Will the Real People's Party Please Stand Up!
My friend, who loves to crack jokes without any intention of laughing did it again over the weekend. Our 20 minutes long free conversatin, courtesy of Cell C was about - South Afrika of course. But very much tongue in cheek. We discussed the election strategies of different political parties. First we had a field day about the Democratic Alliance posters which do not have the face of the party president but some dodgy folks from small dorpies across the nation. 'Why would they want to have unknowns being the face of the party?', we wondered. Then I tried to solve the mystery by alleging that probably they look at who is popular around a specific area. 'If you joined the DA and they asked you where do you live and you told them in Galeshiwe and you are the most popular DJ at some club there they put your face on the posters', I said, adding that DJs do become presidents as some 34-year-old chap in Madagascar proved.
Yeah, how does one explain the absense of Helen Zille on her party's posters. Some analyst even suggested in Mail&Guardian that the way the Madam is so hated she can't risk alienating voters with her Botoxed mug.
But the party that has to take the trophy should be Congress of the People (COPE). Now, theirs reminded me of the early days of the United Democratic Movement when it was still led by former military man Bantu Holomisa and another former Minister of Defence Roelf Meyer. Then ANC hotshot Thabo Mbeki came to my neighbourhood and cracked jokes about UDM being a party of 'amawele angafani" (twins that don't look alike). To some religiously influenced people he was rather referring to Esau and Jacob. Now for COPE to have Terror Lekota and Bishop Mvume Dandala on the lampposts makes for an interesting jest session with Trevor Noah and Eugene Khoza. Their thin argument that it makes for a case for separation of power is narrow, the executive and the parliament.
Then interesting is the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania one which features their dictator Letlapa Mphahlele posing like soccer-players of old with his fist on his chin as if he's saying 'ek sal jou moer'. 'Wie word jy moer Ntate'. Some sympathetic guy told me that it's not a laughing matter because the size of the poster itself, which drifts from tradition indicates the depth of the pockets. 'You can see Letlapa (Stone in Sepedi) funded this posters from his Postbank Account money. Pity, the IEC should give more money to smaller parties and let the bigger ones raise money from their card holding members'.
A dark horse party that is gaining momentum is Freedom Front Plus. The once small bastion of retired army generals saw its dwindling in support after Gen Constandt Viljoen left. However, even the DA admitted that the increase of black folks within their ranks has alienated a lot of traditional Afrikaaners who have found a political home in FF+. It ain't hard to tell what attracts them there given that there used to be a time I entertained thoughts of joining FF+, however recently it has become too rightwing for many progressive people's liking, lest its emergence as a sober-civilian version of the once feared AWB.
Now, the ANC takes the trophy in shooting itself on the foot. First it has focused its energies and resources on fighting COPE while the enemy is the DA. With 50 seats now I am prepared to bet my last dime that it will have at least 55 after the elections while who the ANC is focusing on might not perform in line with surveys. Having party president Jacob Zuma smiling at the electorate across the country is both positive and negative. First it creates the cult-mentality that Mbeki was once accused of vaunting and second it tells people 'here is the chap charged with corruption, money laundering and racketeering'. You don't have to go far to see the suspect, just turn to your left.
However, when the dust finally settles on April 26, all political parties will sit down and gasp a sigh of relief at the end of a bruising, often tiresome campaign that saw lots of them losing their virginity.