A choice between the DA and EFF

Helen Zille says SA's core political divide cuts through the ruling ANC

Writing recently about the upcoming local government election, Stephen Grootes concluded: "The most significant impact of these elections may not be the contest between the ANC and other parties, but in fact within the ANC itself."

As the ANC tears itself up, at every level and in every region, this may seem superficially true. At grass-roots level, prospective candidates and their factions arrive at ANC branch meetings carrying arms (from machetes to guns) and the ensuing violence hardly makes news anymore; the National Executive Committee has to postpone its weekend meeting so that Party leaders can fan out across KwaZulu Natal in an attempt to prevent a conflagration following the jail sentence handed down to former President Zuma.

It certainly looks as if the main contestation in the run-up to the elections lies within the ANC itself.

But this disguises a far more fundamental realignment of politics that is currently underway (and has been for years now).

The main political contest in South Africa lies between the DA and the EFF -- two parties that know what they stand for.

The DA is committed to Constitutionalism, non-racialism, a market economy with safety nets for the vulnerable, and policies that drive growth and jobs. In short, an Open, Opportunity Society for All.

The EFF is a racial-nationalist socialist party, seeking the Party's control over the State, and the State's control over all aspects of society. These policies take a society from authoritarianism to totalitarianism, as history has taught us. We have already seen the route this road has taken, starting with the ANC's centralisation of power, cadre deployment, corruption and the full-blown captured, criminal state. The EFF's "vision" will be the dystopian conclusion of this process.

The DA's vision is the alternative -- an inclusive society in which institutions work, in which the power of the state is limited, and in which individuals are free to pursue their personal goals, and live lives they value in a functional society.

The DA and EFF represent two very different futures for SA.

But where does the ANC stand? No-one can tell you because the key divide in South African politics runs right through the middle of the ruling party.

The RET faction of the ANC leans strongly towards the EFF's nightmare scenario for South Africa.

And their opponents, in the ANC, still claim to believe in constitutionalism, non-racialism, and policies that drive economic growth.

The re-alignment of politics must inevitably tear the ANC asunder because the party lacks any coherent foundational political philosophy, values or principles to hold it together. The glue of political patronage is beginning to melt, and the struggle for the spoils of power and control is intensifying.

We are entering a very messy and noisy period in South African politics.

During this time the most important thing the DA can do is consolidate its strength, and demonstrate the alternative. We have adapted our party to the new circumstances, and are ready for the election. Our systems are functional, our institutions are working, and our resolve is growing. Our commitment to saving South Africa has never been stronger.

We are ready to navigate the turbulent "white waters" of the political rapids that lie ahead, confident that our canoe will remain steady and upright.

And the contribution we are making to South Africa's success will one day be recognised.

This article first appeared on Helen Zilla’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HelenZille