The ANC’s got one. The DA’s got one. The EFF’s got one too and Agang SA may put out one out too one day if they don’t change their minds. So what the hell is an election manifesto anyway? Cue Wikipedia here.
A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually …..promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature.
Uh huh. So a manifesto is a document used by politicians to make a set of promises to the electorate (you, your mom, your friends) about what they intend to do with the country once the hangover from the Presidential Inauguration ball subsides. Making a set of formal promises seems like hardly a stretch for people that earn their cheddar kissing babies, sending mielie meal packages to rural areas and smiling and waving, right? So why are manifestos important and how/why should you use them?
“An election manifesto describes in detail what a political party would like to implement for each person that votes for them.”
Picture you and 5 mates reaching home on a Friday after a night out, ravished. Considering your slim budget, it’s now inevitable – you, Reggie, Lindsay, Lebo, Jeff, and Gavin need to make MUNCHIES. Reggie steps up & suggests his famous mac and cheese dish with baby tomatoes and a hint of chilli for supper. That’s a grande old idea from Reggie-boy and though he’s a great cook, no macaroni in the fridge means his manifesto is simply unattainable and far-fetched. Bugger. “I think we should make some eggs and toasted bread, you guys,” suggests Lebo. Meh, it’s closer to what our net-worth allows but…is seriously lacking in vision. Burnt toast is no way to cap off an epic night on the town, surely? We need MUNCHIES – soul food. Gavin then suggests a very oily vegetarian meal that excites Lindsay, but Jeff differs. Not everyone is vegetarian. No broad relevance in that idea – so it’s not a plan for the people! Jeff wants everyone to be happy (and full) and suggests that everyone go to the kitchen and prepare their own thing. However popular that idea seems at first, too many peeps in the kitchen would turn to chaos, every “dish” would take forever to prepare and well there ARE limited resources.
The political space isn’t unlike the posse’s dream of capping off a good night with good food. It’s ultimately about the plans and decisions one party would like to do with the country’s limited resources over another party’s plans, to make everyone happy. Think of how the EFF suggests a 50% wage hike for everyone in the country – sounds good, but like Reggie’s idea of making mac and cheese without any macaroni, may be a distant, almost impossible prospect. Does that deserve your vote? Like Lebo and Gavin, The DA’s plans are usually quite stable, well articulated and to the point, but are they relevant to EVERYONE in the group? Do they draw into context the larger group’s ambition of an epic feast? Jeff seems to have an ANC-esque idea of things. He’d like to do everything for everyone. Think how the ANC has a rather capitalist economic outlook yet is allied with Cosatu and the SACP. At face-value it appears to be a solution for EVERYONE but also may mean the party is lacking in clear direction or philosophy.
Ultimately, Gavin & Jeff (elected parties) end up preparing the cuisine (running things) with the rest of the team keeping a watchful eye (maintaining order) like a parliament would. In the end the entire team ends up in the lounge – wrestling over salt, having fish fingers with too much pepper and burnt toast while spilling coffee – it’s the munchies. THAT’s democracy at play and the “plan” or “idea” each honourable member of the posse had before making the food – was a manifesto.
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