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Here, in the very beginning of democracy in South Africa, we look, hopeful to the future, after our third election. Proud we are, proud of our achievements, proud of the lead we hold in Africa, and deeply satisfied with our attempt at the difficult task of building democracy amongst the ashes and debris of totalitarianism.

Despite the naysayers, here and abroad, we went today, to cast our votes. WE stood in the lines, to make our mark. We did so, despite our terrible circumstances, in peace, and still, against all odds, full of hope.

All things considered, the miracle is still real.

But, our teenage years are over.

The time is fast approaching when we, like all fledglings, must approach adulthood. There are many contingent issues, that pale in comparison to this, our recent achievement, but, dear reader, time requires of this little democracy, that we grow up, that we become part of the global force of democracy, individuality, human rights and above all, legitimacy.

If we don’t, those contingent issues will be, rightfully so, irrelevant in the eyes of our detractors, who grow in number every day.

While we linger, here in the ecstasy of our moment, they wait, eagerly for our failure. They wait for our demise. If only to be able to say “ I told you so.”

This is the responsibility upon our shoulders, not just for us but also for this very idea.


It will, my friend, come down to this.

Democracy may be mainstay today, but there is never any guarantee. Already, rumbling in the western press, between their very calculated lines, lies the terrible discourse that democracy is not for us. That we cannot handle it.  Like neighbors watching next door as a bright red sports car is handed to a teenager, part spite, and part the terrible wisdom of experience, they predict a terrible smash. In their better moments they despair, but part of them is simply waiting to be right.

What burns is that they have the chance of being right.south africa elections elections south africa

What elates, is that we have the power to prove them wrong.

Upon us in the next few years rests the duty to prove them wrong, for democracy’s sake.

Only time will tell.

Time and choices.

Africa has a contribution to make. I believe, personally, that our contribution is a social one. 

But we must first grow up.

I bring this up, tonight, particularly because it is the end of our elections this time round.

The problem, you see, is that it seems to me, that all things taken into account, the last few months of our elections have shown me one thing.

We are a petulant teenager in the art of democracy, and like all teenagers, we face that terrible time, when the decisions you make, will, right or wrong, shape the rest of your life.

The beauty of being a teenager, is that, if you put your precociousness and petulance aside, for just a moment, and look up, out of your immediate circumstances, you will, if you are lucky, find a role model. At that pinnacle moment, each and every one of us makes a choice, to see, or not to. To make the difficult decision to accept that one is not alone, that the path has been walked before, long time.

What shall we do with this, our bright and shiny, red sports car?

If this election is anything to go by, we will drive it, top down, music blaring, and wind the corners like there is no tomorrow.

Its fun.

Its what they expected.

And why not?

That’s what sport cars are for.


But not in the hands of teenagers.elections south africa

Unlike our proverbial teenager, we have no insurance, and nowhere near as many chances.

Which is why, our last few weeks are so very troubling. Not in alarmist sense, but in the sense that every teenager must one day put away childish things, or forever be a failure.

The last run of elections have demonstrated amply that South Africa is not yet a mature democracy.  Certainly not in the multicultural way it will have to become, if it wishes to survive beyond its teenage years.

The simple fact is that in any Democracy, the tone is set by, the opposition. Its true. Even more so when one party is sure to win.

We are back to Mr Leon’s point, the deep importance of opposition politics in SA

Consider the Democratic Alliance. Here a party, with years of intellectual capital and idea, along with a rich history of liberal and libertarian political heritage chose not to campaign on ideas, or policy. IN an astonishing move, the DA dumbed itself down, showing that even white, middle class voters in South Africa are just as unaccustomed to democracy as anyone else here.

Helen Zille at the fore, trying to imitate the ANC’s struggle culture of opposition songs, danced around and sang songs, some poached from the ANC’s history, with the lyrics changed. In an insulting and puerile display of sheer cheek she took her road show from Cape Town to the rest of the country with as much political content as an American sit com.

Her campaign?

“Stop Zuma.”

The underlying discourse of her ideology amply illustrated by the black face of a man, who initially ran for leadership of the DA.

Joe Seremane currently the only senior black leader of the DA, in a strange public relations creation of a post, Federal Chairman, was nominated by the DA for President of South Africa on the 23 September last year.

Who do we see on the posters?

Helen Zille.

Mr. Seremane, only in one, set just behind Zille, consigned to practical irrelevance behind his white baas Zille.

What is a federal chairperson?

We are not a federation.

Please man, its window dressing.

south africa electionsFrom president to background lackey in two easy steps.

In the words of Helen Zille, last year:

Joe Seremane draws on a long history of political activism and leadership. He has the vision, judgment, wisdom, and ability to lead, which are required for the highest office of the land.Joe Seremane has served his country with distinction throughout his life and made great sacrifices for the attainment of a non-racial, democratic South Africa.

So why then are we voting for Helen, whose limited credentials of local government Mayoring pale in comparison?

I feel the answer is so obvious it need not be articulated.

It is nevertheless a biting example of what I have come to call the politics of idiocy in the DA, under Helen Zille

The DA campaign has treated South African voters like idiots. Their claim to be multiracial, seen through by every one other than their, mostly Cape Town based sycophants.

Consider this from the Black Sash. Long time ally of the progressive liberal party that the DA used to be in South Africa:


The DA is also trying to attract black voters, who have thus far remained unconvinced of the party’s efforts to transcend its minority status. While party leader Helen Zille has been working hard to recast the DA as a governing party for all South Africans, questions are still being asked about contradictions between messaging and leadership.Joe Seremane is the only black person in its national leadership, and its federal council, parliamentary caucus and provincial leadership structures are overwhelmingly white. The party refused to comment about the racial make-up of its leadership structures last week….(Zille) is going to be absent from Parliament after the election, and if the party is serious about repositioning itself as a contributor in the policy debate, it will have to find someone who can take on African National Congress (ANC) heavyweights.The DA is yet to decide who will lead it in Parliament after the election, with Zille leading the charge in the Western Cape. “My premier candidacy is compatible with running a national campaign,” Zille wrote in The Times last week.


President if I win all, Mayor if I don’t, and we will pick another leader for the opposition, if we make it that far.

Sounds like a teenager to me.

I am not just “singling” the DA out, they represent the official opposition.south africa elections

It is the DA’s responsibility to provide the base for a multicultural, multi racial alternative.

They have failed, miserably.

The ANC remains, multicultural, multi ethnic, multi ideological (Vavi to Manuel)

If South Africa is to grow up, we need a real choice.

Lets hope our voters are grown up enough to send the DA a message, so that next time they can, please get it right.

We need an opposition.

That would be the grown up thing to do.


“If they are serious about trying to reposition themselves, they should have credible black leaders. With the current strategy, they will not be able to challenge the ANC for the township vote. If they want that vote, the DA would have to create a new kind of network in the townships. It’s about roots in the community.… If people are going to switch parties, it’s going to have to be about grassroots politics,” -Steven Friedman, political analyst,  University of Johannesburg.


  1. Hello says:

    Do you even known what totalitarianism is? Apartheid was certainly not a totalitarian regime.

  2. thetroublemakertimes says:

    What ?


    • adjective (of government) centralized, dictatorial, and requiring complete subservience to the state.

    • noun a person advocating such a system.

    — DERIVATIVES totalitarianism noun.


    Are you mad?

    If you opposed the Apartheid Government, read a banned book, or met with “banned” individuals like Winnie Mandela, they put you where the sun don’t shine, without trial mind you.

    Yours has to be the most stupid comment I have heard yet, and I have heard some stupid ones.

  3. […] CNS Blog added an interesting post on The South African Elections, The State of our Democracy or When is…Here’s a small excerptSouth Africa are just as unaccustomed to democracy as anyone else here. Helen Zille at the fore, trying to imitate the ANC’s struggle culture… […]

  4. […] IRIN placed an interesting blog post on The South African Elections, The State of our Democracy or When is…Here’s a brief overview…the fore, trying to imitate the ANC’s struggle culture of opposition … will have to find someone who can take on African National Congress […]

  5. regularcontemplator says:

    Both of you are right. Apartheid wasn’t a full totalitarian regime in the theoretical sense of the word. Although it could have been seen as a totalitarian regime by some and especially through the eyes of the black people of that time. In this instance the usage of the word totalitarianism isn’t that wrong. Apartheid can also be seen as a autocratic or authoritarian regime. One must always remember that regimes aren’t always clearcut and that different theoretical regimes gets mixed according to the circumstance.

    Descriptions: (So that you can see for yourself)

    Totalitarianism is an all-encompassing system of political rule that is typically established by pervasive ideological manipulation and open terror and brutality. Totalitarianism differs from autocracy and authoritarianism in that it seeks ‘total power’ through the politicization of every aspect of social and personal existence. (Autocratic and authoritarian regimes have the more modest goal of a monopoly of political power, usually achieved by excluding the masses from politics). Totalitarianism thus implies the outright abolition of civil society: the abolition of ‘the private’. (HEYWOOD, A. 2007. Politics. Palgrave Foundations. 478p)

    As you can see, both regimes can be used to describe Apartheid, but it depends from which angle you look at it.
    I hope the misunderstanding is clarified.

  6. regularcontemplator says:

    Sorry, meant to say: an autocratic

  7. thetroublemakertimes says:

    Dear Regularcontemplator

    Your distinction and subsequent comments beggar belief. I am not going to engage you on the extraordinary perspective of considering 95% of a country (ie as you say black people of that time) as just a perspective of SOME.


    You have introduced Autocratic to the debate, that was not the substantive disagreement.


    pertaining to or of the nature of autocracy or of an autocrat; ABSOLUTE: autocratic government.
    like an autocrat; tyrannical; despotic; domineering: autocratic behavior; an autocratic person.

    In what way does ABSOLUTE, differ from TOTAL ?

    Please man.

    PS Are you aware of any AUTOCRACY, that was not TOTALITARIAN ?

    I certainly hope you are not studying Politics.

  8. thetroublemakertimes says:

    What makes your flippant and hugely precocious comment even more ridiculous is that in the South Africa of “that time” they controlled what we read, where we went, who we associated with and what we could or could not believe. They incarcerated not just “blacks” as you call them, but “whites”, writers, thinkers, singers and any one they felt like. The Internal Security Act allowed the State to detain you for indefinite periods of time, years for some, decades for others, and the state did not even have to inform those detained why. They did not even have to admit to your relatives that you were detained, and then after they killed you they did not even need to provide a reason for your death.

    You don’t think this was Totalitarian ?

    Even if you were right, what’s your point?

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