DA success, Xenophobia and Malema – the hidden connections

Much is happening on the political front that I would love to be discussing here, but paid work is, thankfully, taking up my time this week. Thus the following is broad brush and a little rushed – the point I wanted to make is that the issues are all connected – in dark and unsettling ways.

Julius on Nationalisation

Parliament started public hearings on the establishment of  a state-owned mining company. Malema  gave the ANCYL’s views and he repeated the call for the immediate suspension of mining licences to prevent the current holders “looting” the mines. Jacob Zuma later in the General Assembly said: “If this issue causes such excitement, then debate it with Mr Malema. He is there.” See Business Report’s take here.

DA Success

The Democratic Alliance made serious gains in by-elections earlier in the week – this from The Cape Times (IOL) this morning:

IN a watershed night in South African politics, the DA trounced the ANC in two of its strongholds – Gugulethu and Caledon – gaining two wards where there was not a single white voter and the majority were blacks, not coloureds.

In Ward 44 in parts of Gugulethu and Heideveld, where the DA received 21.6 percent of the vote in the last election in 2006, the party received 60.5 last night.

And in Ward 12 in Caledon’s Theewaterskloof municipality, where the DA received only 6.6 percent in 2006, the party garnered more than 60 percent.

We are obliged to do some work on these numbers (how many people voted, demographic and other changes since 2006) but it implies a surprising level of disaffection with the ANC in areas that can only be described as ‘previously safe’ ANC wards.


I have been picking up from African foreigners living in townships around Cape Town for at least the last 6 months that they were being threatened that post the Fifa World Cup and post the obsessive media focus on South Africa associated with the soccer they can expect to be driven from their homes – I discuss it here and this is the key paragraph from this March 24th 2010 post:

It has become something of a legend and commonly accepted “fact” by foreigners living in South African townships that post the World Cup and in the lead-up to the local government elections in 2011 the xenophobic violence will erupt on a scale beyond anything that has happened in the past.

The issue is breaking across the spectrum of the South African news media as I write.

The Hidden Connections

The ANC government is failing in service delivery and the evidence is everywhere that there is a degree of panic in the party’s ranks about the 2011 local government election. The ANC is under various kinds of threat, but the threat that concerns its leadership most is the possibility that they lose the support of the poor. This environment gives voice to the worst of those who have found a home in the ANC; those who understand the power of the call to take back what is “rightfully ours” – the land and the mines; and those who covertly would harness the rage and fear rife in the townships – a strategy indistinguishable from the early activity of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. The older ANC members would be genuinely outraged at any suggestion that they would countenance these strategies but it is difficult not to conclude that these forces are unleashed in our society as a direct result of the failure of ANC leadership.

4 thoughts on “DA success, Xenophobia and Malema – the hidden connections

  1. On a few occasions in response to your blogs I have wondered whether we are entering into a dark period from which there are no assurances we will emerge. Your last headline seems to suggest you are becoming as worried?

    Also, I recall reading in Sampie Terreblanche’s History of Inequality his view that the only reason the poor have not risen more vehemently against the failures of the Government was they had not yet worked out where they were, and how to pull, the levers of power.

    You seem to suggest they are finding this out.

  2. Inasmuch as the DA’s victory is concerned, is our democracy strong enough to absorb the ANC’s outrage at losing support?

    1. I think this is a crucial question. I do not think that the ANC is in any danger of losing its hold on state power any time soon – this really could be the 100 year (at any rate) Reich. But the methods required to stay in power when the popular programme of transformation from apartheid is well and truly dead are patronage, looting, xenophobia and political repression – a la Zimbabwe. This is what will motivate the best of those within the ANC leadership to fight to keep the ship afloat and the programmes of transformation as high on the agenda as the feeding frenzy will allow.

  3. I hnope you are correct, but I fear that like Van Zyl Slabbert post-Dakar, you assume far more goodwill and honour among the ANC leadership than is there. The battle is, I think, decidedly tilted in numbers at least, towards those who have dismissed the old guard and have the mindset of the victor who is preoccupied with securing their share of the spoils.

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