Election Watch

Election 2019 kicks off with Z & Z horror show

ZZ Show two.jpg

The ‘Zuma and Zille horror show’ this past weekend kicked off campaigning for South Africa’s 2019’s national general election in earnest for the two main contenders, the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance.

From the ANC’s side the main, troublesome, character on stage for some time now already, is President Jacob Zuma. For the DA, their ex-leader and Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, has been waiting in the wings since March this year, but appeared on stage this weekend for what could become an important supporting role in the weeks and months to come.

There can be no doubt that the ANC, as agent (read party) has the considerably bigger, longer lasting problem with their main character, than the DA with its bit player, Zille.

However, how Zille’s role will be scripted, and how she  and her ‘fans’ reacts, will play an important role in how much of the audience’s (read voters) attention will be diverted away from the misbehaviour of the ANC’s lead player.

Similar mistakes

 It is interesting how the two actors, and their handlers, made similar mistakes in the run-up to the present high drama surrounding them.

In June 2015, we wrote about the developing drama surrounding President Zuma: “Not having been treated properly when the opportunity was there, the Nkandla saga has become a malignant tumour in the South African body politic, threatening much more than just the legacy of President Jacob Zuma.”

In October the previous year, the ANC and Mr Zuma had an opportunity to deal with the matter when businessmen from his home province offered to pay for some of the upgrade cost of his Nkandla homestead, on his behalf.

It, however, implied that he had to admit that he at least made an error of judgement. He refused to, and the opportunity slipped by. Since, it has just escalated into something much bigger, 

In the case of Premier Zille, in March this year, when the controversy surrounding her string of tweets over colonialism and Singapore hit the news, we wrote: “… we think now is a good time for Helen to take early retirement. She will not only do her party the world of good, but also do us all a huge service by setting an example for all in executive power positions, including, and especially, at national level.”

She did not follow this route, instead opting to allow the issue to escalate into a showdown between her and the man, Mmusi Maimane, who succeeded her as DA leader, and potentially causing fracturing in the party.

The road ahead

It might, however, if Maimane and/or Zille handle the matter with circumspection, still turn out to be a positive for both them and their party.

How she handles the matter in the days and weeks ahead, can make or break the legacy that Zille leaves behind, either as a leader who puts the party- and country’s interest first, or allows her personal ego to get in the way of such lofty ideals.

As for Zuma, we believe, the situation has developed mostly beyond repair, and it has become a matter of purely damage control.

In the meantime, there are so many factors playing a role, and so much can still happen before the electorate goes to the polls somewhere in probably the first half of 2019, it would be foolhardy to predict the final scene in the drama at this stage.

Who will, in terms of leaders and political parties, at the end of the show turn out to be the ‘audience’s’ favourite/s is likely to remain in doubt until the ultimate ‘applause meter’ results – the vote count – is announced after the elections.

by Piet Coetzer

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