By JOCK MCCONNACHIE, Makana Independent New Deal (MIND) councillor candidate
In the Apartheid era, the ‘swartgevaar’ scare tactic persuaded many to vote for the National Party. The ANC and others use the scare tactic that voting for a ‘white’ party or candidate is a vote for a return to Apartheid.
The DA has for some time used the scare tactic of ‘splitting the vote’, and that voting for a small party opens the door to (horror of horrors!) the ANC. But it is nothing more than that – a scare tactic, and a cheap one at that, which the DA’s Ward 4 candidate, Jeff Embling, has now employed to appeal to the same herd instinct which led voters to vote for the Nats even when they knew that their policies stank and made us the pariahs of the world.
What emerges very clearly from the results of past local elections in Makana is that the DA does not come close to threatening the ANC in ANC-held wards, and the ANC doesn’t come close to threatening the DA in DA-held wards.
The DA presently holds two Makana wards: Ward 4, for which Embling is running, and Ward 8, where Cary Clark is running (and Ward 1, where she lives). Both Wards have been DA safe-seats for the past ten years, and if the DA had performed in those wards over the past decade, it would not need to worry. But it now has reason to be worried, and the reason has nothing to do with the fact that the ANC is a threat or that there are now smaller emerging parties and stand-alone independent candidates who are eating into their vote. The only reason it is losing support and could lose its last two remaining “safe seats” is its dismal performance in those two wards and as an opposition party in Makana as a whole during the past two council terms.
The DA’s use of the cheap, “splitting the vote” scare tactic is a sign not only that it is worried, but it is also a sign of panic. They are terrified that just as they lost the safest of their safe-seats, Ward 12 (Rhodes University), in a stunning by-election turnaround which should never have happened, they could now also lose Wards 4 and 8.
But if that does happen, the winners are not likely to be the ANC, but one of the newcomer, smaller parties the DA is trying to scare you, the voter, into not supporting.
As for the advantages and safeguards of voting for a party such as the DA rather than for a “small” party (Embling doesn’t mention them by name, but he is obviously referring to MIND and the MCF), if any of it was true, neither of their councillors in Wards 4 and 8 should have seen out their terms because neither of them lived up to the DA’s promise that “we get things done”.
The DA councillors presently number almost a third of the councillors on the Makana local council, and yet, by their own admission, they have been ineffective because “we are outnumbered.”
The result is that many in Makana, including previously loyal DA voters, have woken up to the realisation that we need to look elsewhere than the big parties for a solution to Makana’s woes. We need to have a say in who our councillors are, and these representatives need to be accountable to us as they voters rather than to their parties.
Voters also realise that it is more important to vote for an individual you can trust at the local level, whether they are part of a relatively small grouping or even if they are stand-alone independents, as used to be the case with all councillors before the party-based system was introduced.
But the greatest irony and fallacy of Embling’s argument is that, in truth, the emergence of the smaller parties and stand-alone independents in this election eats away at the ANC’s majority and improves the DA’s chances of challenging the ANC’s dominance in their Makana strongholds where the DA has never previously stood a chance.