Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Election "fever"

 Michael –Alternate Thursdays

The election this year has some pretty peculiar features. For a start, one of the parties is led by an ex-president who has been charged with a variety of crimes and has used up a lot of money twisting and turning to delay trial. He claims it’s all a conspiracy orchestrated by his political opponents. Using a little-known clause in the Constitution, people have brought court cases to keep him off the ballot. He has some extraordinary remedies for viral diseases, and is a little too cozy with certain dictatorial leaders – Russia’s for example. By this point, I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’m talking about Jacob Zuma, one-time leader of the African National Congress (ANC) government and now leader of a brand new party with the unlikely name of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which means the Spear of the Nation. It was the name of the ANC’s armed wing in the struggle years. Polls suggest it will pick up around 13% of the vote, although the party has only been around for a few months and really has no policies. Perhaps those are the attractions.

From Cartoons for Peace

Registered trademark belonging to the ANC
Oddly, Zuma has still not been expelled from the ANC despite starting his own party. Maybe they just can’t keep up. There will be over three hundred parties contesting next month’s general election in South Africa.

There’s the ANC itself, a government that’s lost its way in the darkness of power outages called load shedding. It has its own scandals as well as those inherited from the said Jacob Zuma years. The ANC has won a majority of votes at every general election since the first democratic election in 1994, even after Zuma gave away much of the country’s wealth to friends, family, and the notorious Gupta brothers who first fled to Dubai and then, when extraditers came sniffing around, moved to Vanuatu, which apparently has no extradition treaty with anyone.  This time the ANC faces the prospect of only receiving a minority of the votes (polls suggest 40%), but they will still be the largest party. So who of the three hundred odd contenders will they pick as partners? Or will they try to go it alone with a minority in the house?

Then there’s the Democratic Alliance – currently the official opposition. In the distant past it started as the Progressive Party whose sole representative bravely and actively opposed the apartheid policies of the then National Party alone. Eventually, it mopped up the remnants of the old government’s fellow-travelers, the United Party, becoming the Democratic Party, and finally, some years after the new dispensation, it collected most of what was left of the National Party itself. (The balance of the NP is now the Vryheidsfront Plus. That means Freedom Front Plus. Don’t ask me what the Plus is about; probably they also mopped up a right wing party or two along the way.) After that it was the Democratic Alliance. The DA actually has quite sensible policies and has been running the province where I live (the Western Cape) pretty well for the last many years, but it has one huge problem. It’s still seen as a white and coloured party. (Coloured here means mixed race.) 

Musi departs...

It does have excellent black politicians and even had a black leader, Mmusi Maimane, for a while. The problem is that the white leadership called all the shots, and eventually the leader dumped the DA (or was it the other way around) and started his own party (Build One South Africa). Why not? Everyone else does. The DA is predicted to get around 25% of the vote.

What about the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who believe that nothing will work except nationalizing everything in sight? This has, of course, been tried all over the world and has always been a total disaster. I think the EFF’s twist is that it will nationalize everything and then keep it for itself. Still, it seems around 10% of the voters think they have a case.

After that, the minnows. The African Christian Democratic Party, the Rise South Africa Party, Action SA, and so on and on. We even have a party (the Patriotic Alliance) that hates foreigners and wants to build a wall (you can’t make this stuff up) along the border with Zimbabwe. It also wants to make Christianity the only religion in South Africa although that conflicts with the Constitution.

Sadly, there isn’t much enthusiasm for the election at all. Young South Africans look around and see a country with no jobs and a collection of old men and women in government out of touch with the people. Many of them won’t vote. But that doesn’t mean they won’t look for change.

I’m tempted to vote for the ANC. At least if they win a majority they won’t have to form a government with one of these other parties and be obligated to mad ideas other than the ones they dream up for themselves.

US News

Wish us luck. We’ll return the favour in November...


CrimeFest, Bristol UK

 Stanley and I are greatly looking forward to Crimefest - catching up with friends and some great panels.

Panel THURSDAY, MAY 9 @ 14:40

“Finding Your Place: Landscape and Setting” with

Cathy Ace, Christina Koning, Ian Moore, Ovidia Yu, Michael Sears (Participating moderator) 

 Panel FRIDAY, MAY 10 @ 13:40

“Twisted Tales: Subverting Expectations” with
Blake Mara, Michael Sears, B.P. Walter, Nicola Williams, Megan Davis (Participating moderator)

 Panel FRIDAY, MAY 10 @ 14:50

“A Question of Ethics: Moral Dilemmas and Difficult Choices” with

Liz Fielding, Felix Francis, Alex Shaw, Alex Stone, Stanley Trollip (Participating moderator)

 Panel SATURDAY, MAY 11 @ 9:00

“Tick Tock: A Race Against Time” with

Michelle Kid, Simon McCleave, Brian Price, Stanley Trollip, Martin Edwards (Participating moderator)


  1. This was a real education for me--a depressing one, of course, but I'd still rather know what's going on than be ignorant.

  2. One discerns some common traits in a certain type of politician, doesn't one?