Landscape is the artistic architecture of natural scenery. Politics is a natural phenomenon which has observable structure and form. It is the duty of every citizen to study and observe complex composition of political elements and their combinations in society.

In modern times, elements of political landscape operate within a political party or organization in a given space. A political party or organization is an interest based institution. The combination of abstract parts in political party defines its character and behaviour. The behaviour of a political party or organization is not accidental. The manner of conduct flows from the ideological and political designs of the political institution. The fundamental political factors are philosophy, ideology, governance doctrine, strategy and tactics. The dynamic interaction between these five characteristics determines party ability to acquire and maintain power.

Party governance doctrine, strategy and tactic determine cohesion and performance whereas the clarity in philosophy and ideology crystallize party policies and programmes. Philosophy is a theoretical basis of understanding knowledge, ethics and existence. It is personal belief on how to approach situation. It is spectacle through which a world is viewable. All parties have attitude, which is informed by its interest group.

In the South African context, the SA Communist Party’s (SACP) attitude is informed by its primary interest group, who are the white workers. The African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) have African aspirant middle class as its primary interest group. Democratic Alliance (DA) has white middle class as its primary interest group. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) interest group consists of African workers and peasants whereas the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) represents white workers.

Ideology is a form of political orientation that explains problems in society and their solutions. It is a set of organised guiding principles. The science of ideas that characterises the thinking of group informed by its interests. The PAC and SACP have a socialist in orientation whereas the ANC, DA and FF+ subscribe to capitalism. The is IFP based on feudalism.

The attitude and orientation determine party policy. The ideological contradiction split the same constituency or class in different parties. The SACP and PAC has same orientation but contradictory attitude therefore can have same policies or programmes. The DA, ANC and FF have the same ideology but represent different interest groups therefore contradictions among them cannot be avoided.

Governance doctrine defines how a party or an organization regulates and administers its affairs. It explains the scope for delegation of authority in the party or an organization. DA, FF+ and IFP operate on a federal governance system. PAC, SACP and ANC use democratic centralism. The adoption of governance doctrine is informed by societal culture and informs party practice and behaviour.

Strategy and tactic have to do with external operations of the organization. The strategy and tactic are informed by philosophy, ideology and governance doctrine. Policies and programmes are a product of party the ideological outlook. Those who analyzise the political landscape through policy or program will fall in deceptive traps of parties. Party change their policies and program as the environment dictates but do not change three fundamental characteristics namely philosophy, ideology and governance doctrine.

Politics is not a matter of entertainment but a matter of class or group interest. It is a war for hegemony of state power and authority. People should not join, participate or vote for a political party without fully understanding their party’s interest informed by philosophy, ideology and governance doctrine.

By Sbusiso Xaba

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