OPINION | Have some respect for the voters, parties

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The massive vote of confidence the ANC has enjoyed over the years in South Africa has wrought havoc, and not only on the ANC. This becomes very apparent when you look at the sheer lack of imagination among our political parties.
The ANC has pretty much defined the South African political scene. Every other political party has had to respond to the sheer power and dominance of the ANC.
For pretty much all of the last two decades, opposition parties have had to complain on the fringes with no real effect on the chosen trajectory of the ANC.
That was up until, in its blind arrogance, the ANC forced the most devastating weapon on itself and the country, Msholozi (Jacob Zuma). If he had been a sleeper enemy agent, he could not have been more successful.
It is only after the damage inflicted by him that the ANC started to flinch at the jabs thrown by the DA and the EFF.
Ultimately the great ANC had to capitulate, step back, throw the rogue president out of the state machinery and attempt a turnaround.
However, in that time of dominance, the ANC has shaped the language of politics in South Africa.
Having been a popular political party every day since the dawn of democracy, the party quickly morphed into a populist party.
This status was sealed during Msholozi’s tenure.
In a strange twist, the DA, a party which positioned itself as an alternative to the ANC, got obsessed with the ANC.
The party made its main strategy the opposition of the ANC at every juncture.
That opposition did pretty little for almost two decades, only to find a bit of bite in the last two years before Msholozi was forced to step down.
However, during that time the DA was lured into the same political language as the ANC.
In the pursuit of what was termed “black support”, the DA fell into the the same populist language as the ANC.
And the main message became one of promises for clean governance, “unlike the ANC”, inadvertently bench-marking itself against the ANC.
Another way the ANC shaped the language of politics in South Africa was in its absence of imagination.
Year after year, the promise has been about jobs, jobs, jobs.
If it’s not jobs, it’s houses, or free education, or social grants. Their campaigns have not only reflected this lack of creativity but also laziness – an ironic knack for outright shortcuts.
But now we see this lazy attitude towards political campaigns appearing in the DA.
How do you like the use of unspeakable tragedy as a freely available and quick-to-deploy campaign tool like “The ANC is killing us” billboard?
Because a shortcut was being taken here, no consultation was done at all with the aggrieved families of the victims of Marikana and Life Esidimeni.
We know of the culpability of the ANC in these needless tragedies, but the use of the names of the victims is disrespectful and lazy. It leaves one with the nagging feeling that political parties are really taking us for granted.
“The EFF’s manifesto is not just a bucket of empty promises,” wrote Julius Malema in the Sunday Times.
Well, stop right there, my fiery friend, because that is precisely what it is. Your unimaginative diatribe in the Sunday Times, alleging that the EFF is ready to govern, is a pipe dream.
All you are ready to do is to sell our people your pipe dream in much the same manner the ANC has done for the past two decades.
The EFF is not simply influenced by the ANC, it is a child of the ANC. For a moment, it marched to the drum of anti-corruption, clean governance, and chased after that freely-giving political vending machine called Msholozi.
But we must remember that ufuzo luyagqithisa [the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree]. In its efforts to outdo the ANC, the EFF is trying to be more “radical”. They figure all they need to do is be more populist, make more outlandish promises, ask for more taxes, grab more land and so on.
All this demonstrates is the profound disrespect South African political parties have for us. We are viewed as simpletons who will be easily swayed by these ridiculous claims. It is time politicians stop these insulting ways of relating to us...

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