The launch of Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s political platform was met with mixed reactions. Some such as the DA Parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, did not welcome it while others such as UDM’s Bantu Holomisa and COPE’s Mosioua Lekota welcomed the new kid in the block.
We have not heard from the Pan Africanist Congress and Black Consciousness organisations such as Azapo. It could be that the media outlets, as usual, have not solicited their opinions.
Mazibuko is worried about the fragmentation of the opposition as if the opposition in South Africa was homogeneous while Mantashe said he was worried that Dr Ramphele is getting her funding from the US which can lead to destabilisation of South Africa. Is South Africa stable when there are so many service delivery protests such as the one that took place this week (from 19 February) in my own township of Kagiso? Secondly, Mantashe is being hypocritical because the ANC itself was funded by the US in the run up to the 1994 general elections. What is good for the goose must also be good for the gander. And it is not clear if Dr Ramphele was funded by the US or some people in that country. Mantashe and his ilk think the ANC is preordained to rule South Africa for keeps.
All these political parties must be worried because they are going to shed members and supporters if the vision and ideology of this new political party can capture the imagination of the general public. However, some voters are simply prone to following anything that is new or perceived to be new. Analysts often overstate the sophistication of all South African voters.
Some analysts such as Unisa’s Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said if Dr Ramphele’s political party platform is not going to be different from that of the ANC it is unlikely to garner votes. This presupposes that all South African voters are politically literate and vote on party political platforms. Far from it. If they did then the ANC could have long been thrown out of office and the DA would not be the official opposition party. These two parties get a lion’s share in the funds allocated to political parties for elections are and both opposed to regulation of political party funding. Moreover, the ANC government controls and funds the Independent Electoral Commission. We know that he who pays the piper calls the tune. The ANC calls the shots at the IEC.
Now to the launch statement of Dr Ramphele’s political formation. It is generally good. It addresses pertinent issues that are plaguing South Africa. However, the opening statement is loaded with sentimentalism around former President Nelson Mandela when there is consensus that he sold us out for mess of pottage. Dr Ramphele should also have mentioned selfless heroes such as Robert Sobukwe who fought for our country’s liberation more so that this is Sobukwe month. She must make sure that her message resonates with South Africans from all walks of life.
Finally on foreign policy, Dr Ramphele said absolutely nothing about the invasion of Africa for her resources by the US, France and other western powers. She should be aware that as long as other African countries are not stable the South Africa she wants to prosper will not prosper. The faded dream she hopes will be rekindled will turn into a nightmare.
By Sam Ditshego
The writer is a Senior Researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI).