I recently spent a little more then a month in Zimbabwe, a country which has seen the same party and leader retain power for 32 years and counting. South Africans feel an affinity with our neighbour to the north, with many Zimbabweans immigrating here in the early 80s post-independence and more recently we have seen an economic exodus of Zimbabweans to South Africa with an estimated 2 million expats living and working in SA.
Over the past 32 years, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have presided over a progressively steep slide into economic and social disaster. Hyper-inflation, a rampant HIV/AIDS pandemic and political crackdown and torture are just a couple of the headlines.
The question many people ask is how do they remain in power? Surely the people of Zimbabwe are sick and tired of this poor governance and would have by now voted in the opposition. And in a way they did, but in keeping with the finest traditions of third world leadership, Comrade Robert and his cabal of politicians, generals and businessmen managed to steal the election.
While that is all fine and well, the fact remains that people voted ZANU-PF – many people, even adjusting for voter fraud. This leads to the second conundrum, why vote for a party that has consistently proven to be corrupt and inept?
Before I attempt to answer that question, I would like to shift the attention to the South African political scene. We too have one major party, in this case the ANC, who dominates our government. Although there is proven corruption and mismanagement at almost all levels of national and provincial government, I must make the point that it is not nearly on the scale of the Zimbabwean problem.
Quick aside: If one more person says the words ‘South Africa is becoming Zimbabwe’ to me I am going to simply bludgeon them into unconsciousness and put them aboard a bus to Zim. Read my lips, we are nowhere near Zimbabwe.
In the same way the majority of Zimbabweans vote ZANU-PF regardless of the fact that they have not lived up to their promises and electioneering, so do over 60 percent of South Africans.
Now we return to our conundrum, why vote for a party that has consistently proven to be corrupt and inept? My personal answer: because they are still the only party that ever did anything for me.
Wait, wait those of you (specifically my Caucasian friends) who are reaching for the keyboard and scrolling to the comments section and hear me out. There can be no question that the ANC and its leadership by and large brought about the end of apartheid. Not the DP nor the PAC nor FW de Klerk, it was the ANC.
What does that mean for me, and for you? It means that I have actually been able to leave the country using a South African passport, it means my friends can choose to marry their same-sex partners should they so wish, it means that I can watch South African sportsman and artists and musicians perform on the international stage without having to resort to representing the country their granny or great-granny was born in.
Don’t get my wrong, if you choose to vote for the DA I have no issues with that(incidentally another privilege you have the ANC to thank for) but I don’t recall Mrs Zille or many of her lieutenants spending time on Robben Island or Victor Verster. Guess who did? Members of the ANC including the great man himself Nelson Mandela. Yup,
Nelson Mandela is the ANC.