I recently saw some social media users pondering around this question by hanging their frustration across the different platforms. For us to be able navigate through the dilemma, perhaps we should begin with the definition of terms.
Who is “We”? And what are our immediate and long term “INTERESTS” that we want those elected to advance on our behalf? After all POLITICS are about interests. Once it is well defined and understand as to who is “We” and what are our “Interests” it would be easy to “CHOOSE” from political basket made “AVAILABLE” to us.
Contrary to popular view, that 2024 elections would be a watershed moment for South Africa, I contend this is mere exaggeration of what it would mean. The hypothesis is tempting but at a closer look you come to realize it’s a far fetched proposition.
Same political players moving from one formation to the other, rejoining each other through some ‘coalition government’ is barely a watershed moment suffice to say it would signify an important node on the wave of a country’s political trajectory.
I’ve elected to employ intersectionality-dilemma as a framework for my analysis. Precisely because it has potential to delve into unconscious psychosocial existence of South Africa’s electorate, thus giving us a window into their political conscience.
Particularity of our intersectional dilemma is overarched by; race, socioeconomic class, age, ethnicity, morality, and to a less extent, ideological orientation.
The South African electorate have largely always voted along racial lines. I do not think 2024 would be different in this regard. Understandably so, given the fact of our historical past and its legacy that continues to define SA’s socioeconomic and political landscape. We are a two in one nation.
A majority of White electorate know exactly who to vote for. Their choice is largely limited between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Freedom Front Plus (FF+). In this scenario, you can characterize their dilemma as superficial ‘Politico-ethnocentrism’.
FF+ traditionally represents Afrikaner nationalists’ interests as opposed to DA who traditionally represent the liberal English section of white electorate. However, since 1994, ethnic divide between Afrikaner nationalists and English Liberals has gotten narrower. Afrikaner nationalism has somehow managed to morph into global right wing politics along Trump-ism and other European right politics. In that it has gotten rid of moral dilemmas that the National Party suffered in 1994.
Somehow they managed to exonerate themselves from the culpability of Apartheid. Consequence to this, there is almost an insoluble pact of white people held together by ‘whiteness’ and its interests. Hence some supporters of FF+ and DA could swing from one party to the other.
But there is one thing they will never do, to jump across the color line. Not even few ActionSA white supporters would dent on a ‘whiteness-pact’.
An overwhelming majority of African people are more likely to vote for black parties like they have always done. Not even a few black DA supporters who moved with Mmusi Maimane could bring a significant dent on black voters voting black parties.
Central to Black voters’ dilemma is a class-divide. The SA black middle class have grown affinity towards “center right politics” and have long abandoned solidarity with the poor African majority. You see in the manner in which they’ve approached issues around Eskom and the so called Energy crisis. Positionality of the black middle is of a nature that class interests supersede race interests. Their posture comes across as elitist. Interestingly, this is the opposite of what white middle class’ positionality presents itself with. Perhaps much so because amongst white people there isn’t much socioeconomic divide.
In both categories of the poor black majority/working class and middle class cohorts, age comes into the picture. Young voters are agitating to a view that they want changes “now”. Meanwhile the older voters are forgiving when it comes to patience and changes. Important to note is how historically young voters don’t go to voting booths, and I’m not convinced 2024 will be different.
South Africa’s opinion makers and engineers on discourse of issues of national interests aren’t big on political theory. As such there isn’t much influence on how ordinary voters should approach policy positions based on political theory. SA voters haven’t demonstrated voting for a political formation on the basis of its policy on this issue or the other. Even the issue of migration isn’t based on policy positions that these parties offer, but more on who says what to who.
Apart from Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) politics perhaps, South African politics have no ethnic character in their nature and this has been the case since 1994. As such, there is no evidence to suggest otherwise in the upcoming 2024 election.
So all these categories have different sectional interests, objectively and subjectively. In a nutshell, there is no collective “We” amongst the South African electorate. The “We” must always be understood within the context of sectional “We” depending on race, socioeconomic class, age, and ideological orientation.
Do not get fooled by an avalanche of critique and condemnation of the ANC as a common enemy. We do not have common interests.
Let me nail my colors to the mast and declare my positionality. I identify with politics of the left. As such I am biased towards the interests of the “We” which circumstances of race, age, class and political theory have located me.
Ideally every South African should rally behind a political formation that demonstrates capacity to resolve structural inequality, skewed economic landscape, return of land, poverty alleviation and intact administration of government in the delivery of services, in particular at local level. Bad news is that we seem not to have a perfect match. Nevertheless, we need to choose the best nearest to our objectives.
Given the fragmentation of black political parties, we need to be strategic in our voting choice.
The African National Congress (ANC) isn’t entirely off limits when it comes to the available options. There is still a little chance that the left forces – the workers, socialists and communists – within the broad movement can maneuver power from its current neoliberal capitalist block in charge. But there is a high risk we could be voting for our own demise.
Then Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) enters the fray. The best possible coalition we can get out of 2024 elections is that of EFF and ANC. You need EFF rhetoric to neutralize neoliberal capitalist block within the ANC. Action SA is as dangerous as the DA, perhaps them even more dangerous as they are purely foot soldiers of White Monopoly Capital without a leash.
Action SA are a carbon copy of the DA who believe SA’s socioeconomic solution lies in providing seamless administration without changing the structure. Hence they are a refuge camp for apartheid apologists and political novices.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is still stuck in regional politics with no clear ideological orientation; to a left leaning voter they aren’t much of a valuable option. The problem with small political parties is the fragmentation of the black voting block and that is exactly where our opponents want us to be.
In conclusion, if you can’t reconcile with voting for the ANC, the EFF becomes your only left option! The same applies, if you can’t reconcile with voting for the EFF, the ANC remains your only choice. A bitter pill to swallow but it’s the best that is available to us.
~ written by TT Maenetša. Race, Culture and Socioeconomic Commentator.