VIP stories of the year: the opposition

Lee Molefi

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Alongside the  fascination with the bornfrees lived an election subplot suggesting that the great protagonist of South Africa’s political story: the ANC, would face a far greater challenge for the hearts and minds of South Africans at the polls than ever before. Firstly, this was  supposedly underpinned by the fact the born-frees – whoever that is – […]

Alongside the  fascination with the bornfrees lived an election subplot suggesting that the great protagonist of South Africa’s political story: the ANC, would face a far greater challenge for the hearts and minds of South Africans at the polls than ever before. Firstly, this was  supposedly underpinned by the fact the born-frees – whoever that is – would hesitate to put their face to Jacob Zuma’s beaming mug at the polls because of a lack of ‘loyalty’ and the second being that the opposition has never been bolder, more radical and attractive to voters. In 2013, two challengers to the ANC’s throne arose in Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s Agang SA and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.

Early in 2013, a potential political force emerged in the form of Agang SA, as led by former UCT Vice-Chancellor, one time World Bank Managing Director and respected anti-apartheid activist Dr Mamphela Ramphele. By June, when the organisation launched in Pretoria, pundits regarded it as a potential alternative to the ANC for the ‘black middle class’ vote. Elsewhere, Julius Malema was putting the final touches to his own political formation: the Economic Freedom Fighters. By January 28 2014, Agang SA was considered the more credible of the two parties. The following morning – January 29 2014 – Agang SA’s hopes were dealt a massive blow when they made the ill-fated announcement that they would merge with the DA for the upcoming elections. With Dr Mamphela Ramphele standing as the Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate. This was arguably the first significant event to take place involving the ANC’s menacing opposition leading up to 2014 elections. In an article simply titled #AgangDA, Lee Molefi posed pertinent questions about the ‘merger.’ Here’s an excerpt from the article —>

The move only begs the question: how sincere or grounded is Dr Ramphele’s move to the DA really? Is this a case of hasty and ambitious electioneering or a genuine attempt at redefining South African politics by beginning with the redefinition of the official opposition – the DA – first?  When Dr Ramphele claimed that the DA would move South Africa beyond identity politics, I wondered how important it was to the DA that Dr Ramphele was black. I think it was very important, ironically.

At this point, in fact, I feel the only thing about the move that would make any person change their mind about the party is race. Not their manifesto or policy framework. Nope. Race. Dr Ramphele has diluted the DA’s whiteness. Yet, if this is not a disingenuous attempt at swinging the black vote above all, can we expect Dr Ramphele’s ideas to reflect on the DA’s manifesto announcement?  Also, after years of Mmusi Maimane and Lindiwe Mazibuko being active as DA leaders, how much does Dr Ramphele move change the DA’s perception as a “white” party? Finally, what happens to the only party that looked like it could realistically eat out of the ANC’s constituency – Agang SA now?

The DA & Agang SA never did merge, however the episode permanently damaged Agang SA’s hopes of emerging as a political force. damn shame.

By February 2014, the EFF – having capitalised on Agang SA’s faux pas – began to rise above the surface as a more credible threat the DA, Agang SA, UDM and other parties’ fortunes in the political space. Still, Outside the ANC, Julius Malema remained a largely unknown prospect. Three days before the launch of the EFF’s election manifesto launch, we went to a rally at Boiketlong Informal Settlement in Sebokeng to find out. Juju spoke at the rally. The question we wanted answered, however, was: who exactly IS Julius Malema? Check out the video here —>

Elsewhere, the Democratic Alliance’s major play early in election season was to  supposedly ‘expose’ the ANC’s promise of creating 6 million jobs as a lie. Their argument? The wanted to created 6 million jobs – except their’s would be ‘real’ jobs. Yeah. To highlight this, they planned a march to the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters on February 12 2014. Naturally, things got heated. We were there to cover the highly charged event. Check out this video for an inside look at all the action —>

After election day, the DA and the EFF ultimately emerged as the main opposition, with the DA as the ‘official’ opposition, securing  22% of the vote while the EFF claimed 6% of the vote. Agang SA – by that April already a fading prospect – took in a paltry 0.28% of the vote – effectively performing worse than the Freedom Front Plus and newly launched KZN-based organisation National Freedom Party – neither of which received anywhere near as much media coverage as Agang SA. In July, Dr Mamphela Ramphele announced her widely expected exit from politics. Catching no-one by surprise. In an article titled The Daily Molefi: Dr Mamphela Ramphele Kisses Politics Goodbye, Lee Molefi elaborates:

In what is largely an unsurprising move, Ramphele brings to an end a short party political career that saw her establish Agang SA in June 2013 and quickly rise as what many had hoped (and believed) would be a credible alternative to the ANC for the black voter. A respected academic and struggle icon in her own right, Ramphele’s credible image – hinged on her symbolism of “black excellence” peppered with struggle attributes – was struck a dealing blow when in February, she sat next to DA leaders Helen Zille and Mmusi Maimane in Cape Town to proclaim that she would stand as the Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate in the 2014 elections. In what will be remembered as the snafu that reduced any and all of her political clout to zilch, her ensuing failure as a party politician, which has played out over the past six months, wasn’t because of her weird fling with the Democratic Alliance, but because she appeared indecisive, easily-swayed and unintelligent throughout the entire episode; the anti-thesis of what made her appear a capable leader to many.

Read the full story here –> latest-molefi-mamphela-ramphele-quits-politics/

What did you make of the opposition’s election season antics, strategies and campaign roll outs?

Did you vote for the ANC or the EFF/DA/AGANG SA/OTHER?

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