Thursday, January 15, 2004

A reason not to vote ANC
One of the most important news items in recent weeks is that the ANC has launched its election manifesto, which is conveniently summarised by the BBC in this article. Much of it sounds rather good. I'm glad that they've now decided to combine their sound management of the economy with proactive steps to address social problems such as HIV/AIDS, crime and unemployment. The roll-out of antiretroviral drugs is a welcome step, more policemen are desperately needed, and I think that a public works program to invest in infrastructure and create jobs is a fine idea.

Nevertheless, a political party that has been in office for 10 years should, I think, be judged less by what it promises to do than what it has done. In other words, the ANC, and Thabo Mbeki, have had ample opportunity to earn our vote already, and the question is whether they've done enough.

What's concerned me most about the ANC in this regard is their complacency, or rather laxadasical attitude towards addressing the problems that are tearing South African society apart. With the possible exception of water provision, the ANC has moved slowly on all of the problems that they now claim they want to address.

The roll-out of antiretroviral drugs is, as I've said, welcome but -- to be frank -- scandalously overdue. Crime has been a problem of such magnitude, for so long, that additional policemen should have been on the streets years ago. And, until now, the ANC has shown rather little concern about unemployment with the result that, throughout much of their present term of office, the DA, of all parties, has actually been to the left of government on issues such as the basic income grant.

My fear is that if the ANC does maintain or increase their share of the vote, they will simply become more complacent, and the promises that they've made will be implemented slowly or in a half-hearted fashion, if at all. This is why I want support for the ANC to decrease, preferably to roughly 60% (I think that's realistic -- there's no question that they will win). I want them to feel that they have to work to stay in office, and that they can't take their jobs for granted. On their track record, that won't happen if they end up with 67% of the electorate's support.


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