HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsAre South Africans stupid for voting for ANC?

Are South Africans stupid for voting for ANC?


IMPLYING that the masses of South Africans are stupid for repeatedly voting for the African National Congress (ANC) is a denial of the enormous sacrifices they made during the struggle against apartheid — and of the huge gains we have made since the advent of democracy.

guest column:Oscar Van Heerden

Justice Malala implied during a panel discussion on eNCA recently that our people are stupid for electing the ANC over and over again, regardless of how much the party messes up. He stated, and I am not quoting verbatim, they mess up the economy, the people vote for them; they allow State capture, they vote for them; there is blatant corruption with respect to COVID-19 protective gear, the people vote for the ANC.

He concluded that there is a problem with our people.

On the one hand, he might imply they, therefore, deserve what they get, which would be callous, or on the other hand, they are stupid. I decided to take serious issue with his sentiments because I have often also heard it being expressed by my white compatriots: the ANC can do whatever it wants and the stupid masses will keep on voting for them and they know it, so don’t expect any change from the ANC any time soon.

I presume these are the same people who fought for centuries to rid themselves of slavery, colonial occupation and apartheid? These stupid people are the same ones who have bled and died in pursuit of their freedoms, justice? Many of them chose to languish in our prisons, jail cells and indeed on the gallows, stupid fools. These are the stupid people you are referring to, right?

A people who saw the fruits of their labour come to fruition in 1990 and as a result could savour that sweet taste of freedom on that fateful day, April 27 1994. After so many of them died between the period of 1989-1994, right until the eve of the election day.

Are these the stupid people you are referring to?

They, who experienced first-hand in many communities how their ordinary poor and destitute lives were improving and taking shape in the right direction post-1994.

Perhaps you are not used to not having piped water, but they saw this ANC government give them access, similarly with electricity, a most basic commodity. It was slow on the job front, yes; the global economy can be a very complex and lonely place, but these are the people who saw their government making the effort and at least giving them a child grant, equalising old-age pensions across the colour line and restoring the dignity of our aged and most vulnerable.

Even at a time of a desperate shortage of extra cash, it is this ANC government that went an extra mile and provided an additional seven million of these stupid people with some relief to assist in a desperate situation with the COVID-19 special grant.

You might have the luxury of debating dependency syndromes etc, but the stupid people can feel the difference in their tummies.

With literally thousands of service delivery protests all over the country for a number of years already now, with civil society taking good shape in holding government at local level accountable, and with so many deciding to register their protest votes against the ANC in the 2016 local government elections, resulting in the ANC having lost three major metropolitan areas, are these still the stupid people you are referring to?

Our people are not stupid, Malala, they are realists.

If not the ANC, then who? That is not to suggest we cannot survive politically without this ANC, no, but who are the alternatives here and now? I won’t go through the perilous state of our opposition parties, but seriously, there are so many of your types that seem to know what is best for us stupid people, why rely on a breakaway group from this ANC?

Why don’t you and your ilk form a political party and steer us all out of this abyss? Why is it that certain labour groups have not yet thought of breaking away and forming a workers’ party to the left, or the Communist Party for that matter? Oh, I forget, because they are stupid?

I think, my friend, that the “born-free” generation has the luxury to not care about our struggles and our sacrifices over the preceding decades, but you don’t have that luxury, Malala. It is not that I constantly want to bask in the glory of the past, I can’t rid myself of it… it happened!

So, before you call us stupid, remember this — the people shall govern!
— Daily Maverick

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