Thursday, September 18, 2008

ANC will prevail if it listens to its constituency

Thabang Motsohi.

It is ironic that as we approach election time again, people increasingly begin to reflect on, and in many ways question, the performance of the ruling party and its accountability to its constituency.

The leadership battle that has dominated party activities, pre and post Polokwane, threatens to tear it apart as we prepare for the next election. If the widespread and violent contestations for nomination on the party list are an indicator of the deteriorating crisis, then the ANC voters have legitimate reasons to look for alternative beneficiaries of their precious votes.

In so many constituencies, people of high integrity and who command respect and support in their communities, are threatened with violence and even death for seeking to be nominated on to the party list. This is the preserve of those that are close to the party leadership. They are motivated by self-enrichment and seek political power to distribute patronage and control.

The situation begs the question: Does the electoral system and the ANC governance structure and practice serve the democratic mandate and interests of its voting constituency?

Last Sunday on Interface, J Duarte stated that the ANC is assured of at least 60% voter support. This was so presumptuous, it could have been laughable were it not naïve. We need to show more respect for the intelligence of the voting public.

Many voters are increasingly voicing frustration and disillusionment at what is happening within the party. Zubeida Jaffer in her recent article, Star 15th Sep, proposes formation of a direct representation party as an option.

Some people believe that this is a very attractive option. It would have a very high potential for success provided it is a mirror image of the ANC and it adopts its principle and policy strategies with the exclusion of the following:
• Nomination on the electoral list must be decided by the constituency on the basis of the most preferred candidate,
• Participation in the decision making of the party must be by members only. Any alliance partners shall be excluded from this role.

Clearly if the ANC adopts constituency based electoral system and limits its relationship with the alliance partners, the need for such a party will fall away.

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