Fakir says declined voter support will have positive resultsDate Released: Fri, 23 May 2014 08:00 +0200
A RESPECTED South African political commentator has claimed that the drop in voter support for the ANC during the recent elections may precipitate more responsive government. Speaking to hundreds of students at the 12th annual Rhodes University Teach-In yesterday, Electoral Institute for South Africa (EISA) political parties and parliamentary manager Ebrahim Fakir said preelection evidence indicated the decline in support would likely prompt increased ANC attention to the responsiveness of government - particularly in areas where ANC voters live.
He said prior to elections, the ruling party reacted swiftly to demonstrations in Madibeng (Brits) - and several different provinces - by forcing senior elected officials to resign and placing the council under administration. "The speed of the response was highly unusual and suggested a new sensitivity to voter sentiment. This could have an important impact on the quality of government." He said while it was common to insist government provides inadequate service to citizens because it lacked technical capacity, evidence suggested the key problem was inadequate accountability.
"The National Treasury is often regarded as the most technically proficient government department: this is so because it is held accountable by the market if not by citizens. "It seems reasonable to assume that, if other departments face equally strong pressures to account, they would be equally competent. "If the ANC feels under pressure to retain citizen support, this is very likely to ensure more effective governance for the grassroots poor in particular." According to Fakir, more people than ever before in the "new" South Africa had either not registered to vote or simply did not turn up on polling day to make their mark. He said the recent elections experienced the lowest turn out of voters since the advent of democracy. Since 1999 there had been a steady decline in voter turnout from 83% to 73% this year.
He said the more than nine million voters who did not make their mark was higher than the number of people who voted the ANC back into power. While support for the ANC had dwindled, support for the DA had increased. Fakir however pointed out there was greater fragmentation and fracturing among opposition parties. He said the two political parties that had emerged from a split and schism in the ANC - COPE and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) - had not fared well. "COPE imploded and the EFF appears to be a little more than a rabble rousing band of miscreants."
He said both had performed below their expectations. Although the DA was the only party which had consistently grown over successive elections it had under performed on the basis of their own projections. He however said they faced internal challenges of party identity, fracture, and the perhaps temporary loss of their parliamentary leader. "As the best of an otherwise genuinely untested lot, the DA has its own serious shortcomings.
"Quite apart from its own policy flipflops on what ought to ordinarily be justifiable race-based black economic empowerment and affirmative action, it is faced with the serious dilemma of defining itself ideologically." He said the missing ingredient in the DA was a connection to the mass of voters and citizens. "This holds the DA back from what it could be. If the ANC alliance is ideologically diverse (and disparate), then the DA is de-ideologised."
By David Macgregor
Source: Daily Dispatch
Photo: RESPECTED: Political commentator Ebrahim Fakir