COMMENT

Please think carefully before you vote. And don’t vote for the EFF

Phumlani Majozi says he struggles to see Ramaphosa making significant changes on economic policy

Please think carefully before you vote. And don’t vote for the EFF

7 May 2019

South Africa’s 6th democratic election since the end of apartheid is at the door. It’s an election closely watched by the entire world. There’s a big interest in it – as people – especially investors and the business community – want to see whether Cyril Ramaphosa of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) can emerge with a decisive victory that will give him room to embark on the reforms needed to reverse South Africa’s socioeconomic decline that we saw under Former President Jacob Zuma over the past nine years.

Lately, I couldn’t help thinking about the three biggest parties that most of us are expected to vote for – Ramaphosa’s ANC that I have already mentioned above, the Democratic Alliance (DA) led by Mmusi Maimane, and the left-wing, vile, Stalinist, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) helmed by Julius Malema.

I have been asking myself a myriad of questions: What do each of these three big parties stand for? What would governance in South Africa look like under each? Are their leaders credible? Can they be trusted to take charge of a challenged country of 56 million people? How have they projected themselves over the past five years? Which party has been least corrupt?

Some questions have been easy to answer, and some not. One thing has become clear to me though. That none of these three big parties represents the values and principles that I, as a classical liberal, stand for – which are – small government, tax cuts, privatization, pro-growth business deregulation, and so much more that upholds and guarantees individual liberty. None.

Let me lay out a few crucial things I believe you must consider before voting for one of these three big parties.

I’ll start with the worst of them all – the vile EFF. I have written about the EFF before – expressing my fears about the party. And it really unsettles me that polls show this mad party growing its vote to at least 9% in the upcoming election; from 6% in 2014. It’s really unsettling.

The EFF stands for bad ideas that have totally failed in human history. Nationalizations and central planning don’t work. Yet Malema and his fellow EFF clowns are determined to bring us the reckless policies that – as we speak – are impoverishing people of Venezuela. The same policies that have left Cubans poor and repressed over the past decades.

The EFF loves violence – threatening journalists and assaulting themIn an interview with Eusebius McKaiser on Radio 702 recently, Malema took his party’s insanity to a higher level by pronouncing that under their leadership, borders would be dismantled in Africa. Something that would produce chaos and xenophobic attacks – especially in South Africa where we have already seen this troubling trend over the past years.

As I argued in my recent television interview, we don’t need a borderless Africa at this point. Amongst the many reasons why we don’t, is because of vast economic differences between our countries. Most people from poorer Sub-Saharan African countries would come to South Africa – where life is relatively better. The result would be chaos and severe strain on public resources.

Now let’s come to the ruling ANC – that ran South Africa into the ground during Jacob Zuma’s presidency. If Ramaphosa, the world’s darling, had not won in Nasrec in December 2017, the party was going to pay a heavy price in this year’s election. It would have been severely punished. It was punished during the 2016 municipal elections – because of Jacob Zuma’s then scandalous presidency.

To his admirers, Ramaphosa is a reformer who can clean up the ANC and bring economic stability to the country. But can he really do it? That’s the question I have been asking. Will he have enough political power within his party and the largely left-wing ANC alliance to pursue the necessary and unpopular reforms needed to accelerate South Africa’s economic growth and reduce poverty?

In a recent interview with Newzroom Afrika, Ramaphosa came out bad. I thought he was horrible. Worse when he said it’s not him who promised 275 000 jobs a year - it’s social partners. I thought it was weird to see the country’s president evading any kind of responsibility on the very crucial matter of job creation. And it seemed there is a lot that happened, or happens, that he had no idea of – and shocks him. He couldn’t even defend the ANC’s inconsistency on confronting alleged corruption in the party. And the assertion that there will be no job losses when Eskom is in the process of reform, will come back to haunt him.

London’s The Economist magazine has endorsed Cyril Ramaphosa, calling him “South Africa’s best bet”. I do foresee institutional positive changes under Ramaphosa – the appointment of credible public officials and the crackdown on corruption – though things will be slow even on this front.

What I seriously struggle to see him do, is bringing significant changes on economic policy. What needs to be done to grow South Africa is unpopular – within the ANC and its left-wing alliance – and is the opposite of what came out of the Nasrec policy conference. So there is going to be a serious pushback against any reforms that depart from what was agreed upon in Nasrec in 2017. And I think the struggle with the unions will be real. And whether Ramaphosa can win that struggle remains to be seen. It’s all uncertain to me at this point.

Though the DA was originally a party devoted to classical liberal ideas – ideas very much aligned to my politics – it seems to be slowly veering off these values. Its leaders seem divided on what exactly the DA should stand for. The party seriously needs to work on this after May 8 – if it wants to defeat the ANC in 2024.

Ideological confusion aside; in my observation, the DA is the least corrupt party compared to the ANC and the EFF. I cannot say that Maimane’s party is pure and perfect on corruption – it is not. But DA’s corruption is not as rife as it is in the ruling party and the EFF. And we have to take that into consideration when we vote.

The DA is in charge of a relatively well-run province – the Western Cape. Its municipalities are also relatively well-run; in comparison to places run by the ANC - where mismanagement of public finances is rifer. In my assessment, DA’s policies would cause much, much less harm to the country if it were to come to power. Doesn’t the DA deserve a chance?

We are in a tough period in our country. The big three parties that I have spoken about above aren’t perfect – and one is more imperfect than the other two. But fortunately, we have a stable, functional democracy – so we have an opportunity to change things for the better through our vote.

Please don’t stay at home. Go vote! Assert your voice in our bourgeoning democracy. But please think carefully of what I have said above before you vote. And I urge you not to vote for the EFF. The EFF would collapse this country in days, and we would all become destitute within a year. We surely don’t deserve that.

Phumlani M. Majozi is a politics and economics analyst, a senior fellow at AfricanLiberty.org, radio talk show host, and non-executive director at Free Market Foundation South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.