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The colour of our politics: Blue …. or Red?

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Picture: Tumi Pakkies/Taken on June 19, 2023 – Helen Zille, right, says that the contenders for power are the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Front. Predicting a major loss by the ANC in the upcoming elections, she says the primary colour of South Africa’s electoral politics is changing fast from yellow to blue-and-red.

By Kim Heller

The future is blue. So says Helen Zille, the Federal Council Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance. In the blue-sky of the DA’s political horizon, it is a government in waiting. “We are in spitting distance of becoming the biggest party in Gauteng”, Zille told the party’s Gauteng’s Provincial Congress this past weekend.

According to Zille, the primary colour of South Africa’s electoral politics is changing fast from yellow to blue-and-red. She predicts the full-scale demise of the ANC after the 2024 national elections.

This is no vivid psychedelic vision. It is a real possibility. The fade and jade are already deeply etched on the modern-day face of the ANC. The glorious, gallant gold of the yesteryear ANC has long become jaundiced. Today, the yellow-bellied ANC is a shadow of its former self. The rosy cheer of its anti-apartheid blush has now been replaced by a sallow complexion.

Zille told DA delegates that in her lifetime she had witnessed the “unravelling and death” of two major political forces, namely the United Party and the National Party. The cause of death, Zille asserts was due to a severe loss of direction and principle. The ANC is exhibiting these deadly symptoms, and the prognosis for recovery is poor. Zille predicts that she will live to witness the demise of a third political party, the ANC.

The ANC’s bold strokes of gold, green and black, once the hues and hopes of a democratically free South Africa are now fifty thrifty shades of deathly grey.

It is not only Helen Zille who is imagining a South Africa without the ANC at the helm. In a recent address commemorating the Marikana Massacre, Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane said, “We must start imagining freedom without the ANC; we must start imagining human emancipation without the traitors that betrayed our people; (traitors) that we call leaders … We’ve spent too long attaching human emancipation and human liberation to people who don’t care about us.”

He continued, “The next time one Black person is killed by this state, I want each one of you to know it’s no longer government’s problem. It’s us. It’s what we tolerate … when our young people know that they have no future under the system, and when those institutions of the state can no longer protect you, it is not a crime to seek other means to overthrow a government. It would be a sin to allow a sinful, evil state, to destroy generations while you tolerate it; while you watch.”

Understanding that it is in the throes of death, the ANC is now desperately clutching to the prospect of coalition politics as a lifeline for its survival. The governing party’s enthusiastic embrace of a possible coalition is not a noble or benevolent gesture to bring about political stability or to embolden the complexion of democracy. It is simply about the narcissistic greed of a failing government to hold onto the gold of governance. Above all It is a vote of no confidence in its own prospects. Of a party that has no faith in its own future.

The ANC is fading. It was once seemingly unimaginable that the ANC would lose the prized Western Cape or the richest of Gauteng’s metropoles. But it has come to be. History teaches us that giants can fall, that multi-conglomerates can collapse and that the most revered and rooted baobabs of liberation can wilt and die. Those that forsake their principles, purpose and people and sway like a candle in the wind will eventually lose their might, bright and light.

The colour wheel is turning according to Zille. She says that while the 2024 election may be “blue versus yellow” before long it will be a choice between blue (DA) and red (EFF). The primacy of yellow (ANC) will pale while the blue (DA) and red (EFF) is set to intensify. The real battle for the hearts and minds of South Africa’s voters. Zille predicts, will be between the DA’s Blues and the EFF’s Reds.

For Zille, it is as if blue and red are not part of the same colour wheel, but represent two entirely different extremes, polar opposites. Indeed, they do. Unlike the ANC, both the DA and the EFF are crystal clear on what and who they stand for.

For Zille, Blue (DA) is reconciliation and peace. Red (EFF) hate and violence. Blue is all things good, while red is entirely bad. In other words, DA is arch-angle, EFF lord of evil.

“Racism is red, non-racialism is blue,” Zille told DA delegates. “Failed Marxist economics is red, economic growth and a social market economy is blue,” she said.

“State control is red, freedom is blue. Breaking everything down, and calling for the murder of people is Red. Building up, and bringing people together is blue,” she said.

For both DA Leader John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille, the EFF is “political enemy number one of the Democratic Alliance”, and an enemy of the people, democracy, and all things nice.

When he was re-elected as the DA’s leader, Steenhuisen said, “I commit the DA to fight back against the EFF at every turn… this is no longer about politics. It is about the survival of democracy, and the survival of South Africa.”

The DA’s fearmongering is gaudy. Blue seems to fear red, and one wonders what the DA’s regular polling is revealing about the growing intensity and appeal of the EFF among South Africa’s electorate.

The DA’s alarmist portrayal of the EFF as an enemy of the people, democracy, and South Africa lacks credence, and it is little more than the wild imaginings of the soldiers of white interests that the DA can try and position itself as the protectors of black South Africans.

Whether the future of South Africa is blue sky or red dawn is in the making right now. If blue wins, there will be no blue-sky freedom and equality for all. For the palette of DA politics is white privilege and control. In a post-ANC era, if the DA wins, lily white clouds will loom large across our skies as a daily reminder of the inscription of white dominance across the horizon. Black will never be a primary colour in the colour spectrum of the DA. The party may well have a pool of black members, but its blue blood is white. Such is the colour of privilege.

The reds offer a totally different tomorrow, one which bears little resemblance to the unbearable whiteness of the DA. It offers a vibrant alternative to the murky yellow of an ANC which stands for nothing, and whose supporters have settled for just about anything. In a post-ANC era where EFF has control, white power and privilege will no longer be the colour of choice. This is what threatens the blues. The ANC government has not interrupted the white wonderland. The Reds will.

The ANC has shown its true colours. And it is not a pretty picture. Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane is correct. It is up to us to drive change. The time has come for us to colour our own future.

Kim Heller is a political analyst and author of ‘No White Lies: Black Politics and White Power in South Africa’.

This article was written exclusively for The African. To republish, see terms and conditions.