This is just an opinion piece, based on something I read on Twitter.
I just had a fascinating discussion with a very good private pollster. Apparently #AlexShutDown is hurting the ANC very badly. Down multiple points in GP in last few days… I honestly thought it was going the other way! Very interesting.
— Dawie Scholtz (@DawieScholtz) April 9, 2019
Bear in mind that this is someone hearing something from a friend, which is more rumour than fact until the results officially are released.
That said, it got me to thinking about how this could be possible, could the #AlexShutDown hurt the ANC rather than the DA?
One of the problems I have with our news media is that they tend to report that a protest is happening, while not actually including what the protest is about.
That makes it very difficult to support legitimate causes, and biases the listener or reader against the protesters. Without that information all you see is the disruption with nothing to balance it.
So without knowing what the demands are, you have EWN reporting that the convener of the march, Kenneth Mgaga as saying: “But this time around, people are getting agitated and it means that our government listens to us through the skin; we must just burn everything and stop everything.”
You have the Citizen quoting Herman Mashaba as accusing the ANC of inciting the crowd to racially abuse the city manager, saying: “In a video, the jeering ANC members can clearly be heard screaming ‘No ching chong’ and ‘No Hong Kong’ in an effort to strip Michael of his dignity.”
Without actually bringing in what the grievances are, we now have this picture of a group of racists who just want to see the world burn.
So the first problem is legitimately the coverage of this story.
The second is – what actually are the concerns in Alex?
For this I’m going to turn to TimesLIVE.
The issues they’ve identified fall under two categories, crime and service delivery.
So far as crime is concerned the bulk of that falls under the SAPS, which is national and thus ANC run. Sure we have the metro police, but the ANC coming away unscathed in the fact that one of the core issues is one of the few things they have control over.
Service delivery, is a bit generic. What services aren’t being delivered?
The first issue comes via Herman Mashaba, who says there is a housing shortfall that the city is struggling with.
The last budget cut funding to the Urban Settlements Development Grant for Johannesburg by R336 million according to EWN, so again the ANC don’t come away unscathed.
The next issue is claims that the city has not done anything about illegal water connections, which is a legitimate gripe but more of a problem for the city than the residents I’d think.
A failure to cut the grass I think’s minor in real terms but failing to collect the rubbish definitely is an issue with the DA’s governance that should be sorted out as soon as possible. This is a failure to perform a basic city function.
And one has to bear in mind that Alex is an ANC ward, so some of the blame for that is going to fall on the councilor. That said, in fairness to the ANC, Alex isn’t the only area with major problems in service delivery.
Ward 58, which is a DA ward, is similarly suffering and you can go read about the details of that on the Daily Maverick. The DA does struggle with service delivery in poor areas wherever it governs, and that’s a major concern that voters in those areas should have with it.
So to my original question, if it was the case that the ANC were suffering more than the DA in polling over this issue, what would be the cause?
I think it would be that a lot of the issues aren’t being aired properly so the protesters, who are clearly ANC led, aren’t getting a fair hearing, and that a lot of the issues which are being aired can’t be solely blamed on the DA.
Within American politics part of how the Republican Party has campaigned in the past has been to make everything a wash, to highlight issues with the Democratic Party in order to build an equivalence between the two.
A part of that I think is helping the DA here. They are now the status quo, so if we can look at their competitor, the ANC, and say, well Alex was suffering when the city was under the ANC, a lot of the issues there are due to decisions made on a national level, and so forth, the damage done to the DA is minimised.
This isn’t a good thing, failure should not be met with a shrug, and should represent a major opportunity for other parties to win some votes on the basis of both major parties failing the people of Alex.
We’ve got a representative democracy – you don’t need to win the elections for the party of your choice to have a voice in Parliament, voting for somebody else, even they stand no chance of winning overall, is not a wasted vote.