Wednesday, November 05, 2003

I thought it might be interesting to see what the SA media has to say about the alliance between the DA and the IFP.

The SABC makes a gallant attempt at impartiality in its story but then, in the final paragraph, it can't resist a cheap shot:

"The IFP/DA alliance is an interesting marriage that many supporters think will work beyond the honeymoon."

It may be 'interesting' chaps, but I'm afraid that you're going to have to provide us with some analysis if you want us to believe such a broad assertion. And what precisely do you mean by 'interesting' anyway? On most of the important issues, the DA and the IFP share similar policies: a commitment to a liberal, capitalist economy, devolution of power to the provinces, and the gradual withdrawal of the state from areas of our national life in which it currently chooses to involve itself. Perhaps what the SABC means is that it is worrying for the ANC that a credible opposition party seems to be emerging and therefore it feels the need to cast aspersions on the coalition. No surprises here, really, the SABC has never made much of an attempt to be impartial in it's coverage of political news. How could it, it's effectively a parastatal and most of it's board members are also members of the ANC.

IOL news goes into more depth and includes this, very interesting, paragraph:

"The IFP leader publicly expressed his wish to become the next president of South Africa. This he said was possible only if the coalition defeated the ANC in the election.

He said that if he became president, his cabinet would include not only members of the coalition, but also members of the ANC who would be willing to participate. "

Buthelezi as president? It seems inconceivable, but perhaps this is an indication of what is going on behind the scenes. Later on I'm going to write a piece speculating on the bargains and compromises that underlie the coalition but for the moment it suffices to say that it appears that Buthelezi will emerge as the senior figure. The parties will campaign as separate entities during the elections but on the basis of this story, Buthelezi will be the de facto leader. Should they decide to go the course of a full-blown merger, then presumably he will be the top dog. This is interesting, because the DA is the larger of the two parties and, on the face of, should have been in a position to assert the rights of their man to be in charge. Of course, having a guy like Tony Leon as president wouldn't really fly, and I'm sure Tony knows that but one wonders what kind of sweetners he's extracted from the IFP in exchange for letting Buthelezi take the reigns. Could we possibly see IFP policy positions becoming more DA-like over the next few months?

The Sunday Times does a fair job of covering the news and makes the point that the IFP hopes to hold onto KZN as a result of the alliance. This, I think, is a reasonably realistic prospect but the second hope, that the DA might take back the Western Cape, is a bit far-fetched, to say the least. I suspect that the DAs idea might be that by demonstrating it's 'new South African' credentials to floating voters in the Western Cape it will convince them to switch support from the NNP. I doubt this will work, to be honest, and I suspect that the DA's hopes in the Western Cape lie more in their ability to convince the Cape Flats that they are the real heirs to the Nats rather than the anaemic NNP.


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