OPINION | The obvious is oozing from those manifestos
Election manifestos might try to dazzle voters with promises or distract them with smoke and mirrors, but usually they really are what it says on the box: “manifesto” comes from the Latin “manifestus”, which, rather fittingly, can be translated as “obvious”.
This isn’t news to South Africans. In this country you don’t need to speak Latin to see the obvious admissions of failure and obviously overblown promises in election manifestos. You just need to have been awake for the past 25 years.
Still, not all election manifestos are snake oil and hokum. Take Mzwanele Manyi and his new meal ticket, the African Transformation Party. Some doubt the party’s bona fides but to me it is quite clear that the ATM is genuinely dedicated to transformation, specifically the transformation of Gupta capital into political capital and the transformation of Jacob Zuma from puppet into puppeteer.
Hell, Manyi’s even got some actual political policies, like reinstating the death penalty.
And I believe he means it: he’s already proved he’s willing to torture people, broadcasting ANN7 directly into the eyeballs of thousands of victims.
As transparent as Manyi and the ATM are, however, they don’t come close to the two most honest parties in the country: the ACDP and the EFF.
On the outset, these two seem very different. One is a fundamentalist party that wants to transform SA into Europe of the 15th century, faithfully worshipping a capricious, petulant god that exalts the righteous and damns the sinful.
The other is the ACDP.
Both, however, are very clear about their agendas.
The ACDP’s policies make it clear that it wants a return to the Rainbow Nation, just as long as the flag isn’t also a rainbow, because that’s already the LGBTQ flag, hanging limply over the smouldering ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, casting its shadow across a salt pillar that was once a woman with an inquisitive mind.
I’m not really making this up. In 2018, when the ACDP condemned the flying of the LGBTQ flag over Nelson Mandela Bay, Kenneth Meshoe told City Press that “everyone has rights, but we do not want to be forced to believe what we don’t believe”.
I don’t know what the ACDP’s actual slogan is but I would urge them to quote the reverend: “Everyone has rights, but” is a pretty perfect summary of its policies. (Aside: I’m very grateful to Meshoe for teaching me that a strip of fabric can force people to change their beliefs. I was going to use a white tablecloth for my dinner party on the weekend before I realised that I was about to turn everyone into white supremacists. Thanks, Rev!)
The EFF, likewise, has never hidden behind euphemism and double-speak. When it tells us that it wants to turn us into a failed state, there’s no waffle about “a better life for all” or “this country is for everyone”.
Just good, hard facts about Venezuela and Zimbabwe and how it’s always someone else’s fault.
Of course, these two don’t have a monopoly on openness. The Cape Party, for example, is refreshingly honest, openly lobbying for the Western Cape, Northern Cape and bits of the Eastern Cape to break away and become totally independent from SA so that everyone in those provinces can die of thirst on their own terms.
And let’s not forget the SA Communist Party, which continues to be admirably candid about its status in local politics. In case you’re wondering, the SACP doesn’t have an election manifesto, mainly because it doesn’t contest elections.
Instead, it is content to be that elderly uncle who, having blown his fortune and the last of his family’s goodwill on a Russian pyramid-scheme-slash-murder-cult that collapsed in 1991, now lives in the granny flat and gets by on handouts from his capitalist nephew in Luthuli House.
Even the Democratic Alliance is trying to be honest, admitting that its grand policies will never be enacted because it doesn’t have the leadership capacity to run a country. (See “Sanitary Pads Make Girls Think of Sex”, Mashaba, H, 2019).
Fortunately, however, political purists can still rely on one party to produce a traditionally larcenous manifesto; to stand before us like a predatory alien dressed in a badly fitted human skin, desperately trying to keep the meat-suit from rupturing and spilling out its galactic ooze . . . “Hello, human friend!” it burbles.
“My name is Xgr^, wait, no, I mean ‘Cyril’, yes, ‘Cyril The Human’, and I come in – gnnn – peace! Pay no attention to that – mmpoop – Zuma-shaped cyst fighting its way out of my totally genuine human abdomen, that’s quite – uurrgh – normal!
“May I come in and tell you about my plan to – oh dear, I’m smearing haemorrhagic goo all over your nice carpet. Damn Eskom just won’t stop leaking . . . Wait, don’t run! New dawn! Wait!”..