πŸ”’ Alec Hogg: The DA, Gayton and SA-post May 29

By Alec Hogg*

To say I was delighted with the feedback from last week’s BNC#6 is an understatement. The event was ambitious. It took weeks of planning and lots of support from service providers. Plus excellent execution from Team BizNews. All of that paid off. We delivered a conference which a flood of responses show our tribe loved.

From my side, once again restrictions applied during question time cost me a friend. One who cancelled his BizNews Premium membership this morning, including a final rant in his ‘exit interview’. That aside, the relief of a successful project was pleasing. Personally, too. Yesterday delivered my best golf round in 14 months.

There is much to digest from those two and a half days of distilled wisdom. Expect it to emerge through our channels as we publish recordings over the next four weeks and weaves learnings into our reports in the next few months. But something demanding immediate attention is friction among the political opposition, particularly the party which leads a potential government in waiting and the possible ally it keeps rebuffing.

___STEADY_PAYWALL___Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie is an acquired taste. After his BNC#6 address, although delivered from the heart and in language described as ‘uncouth’ by another keynote speaker, I’d wager many more members of our tribe were transformed from outright critics into members of the Rob Hersov camp.

Hersov has made no secret of his admiration for the political disruptor – including his penning of a McKenzie-supporting poem for BizNews. He has long demanded McKenzie’s critics provide evidence to back their narrative of a gangster using politics as a facade for plunder. Some will interpret that as misguided loyalty; others something noble. For me, Hersov’s ‘put up or shut up’ call is entirely rational.

We used the obvious headline of “vote like your life depends on it” from the Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen’s BNC#6 keynote. He surely meant every word. This very decent human being, however, should be reflecting on the deeper meaning of that catchy slogan – particularly in his party’s relationship with McKenzie and the PA.

On Tuesday, Steenhuisen’s party issued a press release justifiably attacking two senior members of the Theewaterskloof Municipality. It involved their alleged ratepayer-funded jaunt to the Rugby World Cup in France, justified as an “official state visit” . The release refers specifically to a ruling PA/ANC/GOOD ‘coalition of corruption’ and fingers Theewaterskloof deputy mayor John Michels and speaker Derick Appel.

As the PA leads the Theewaterskloof coalition, the immediate assumption is McKenzie’s cohorts are ripping the system, which may well be what the DA press machine intended. Except that neither of those named belongs to the PA. Michels is a member of the rapidly imploding GOOD party and Appels is ANC. Relevant in the context of the charges, but not rating a mention in the presser.

We The People, are repeatedly told politics is dirty, as if we should simply accept it when considering who to entrust with power. But that’s wrong on so many levels. This is not a game. There is far too much at stake for South Africans who seek a better government to accept such small-minded malice permeating throughout an organisation led by Steenhuisen and Helen Zille, people with integrity.

Listening to messages on the wind at BNC#6, it looks very much like the ANC and DA-led MPC are shaping up for a post-election Government of National Unity. Their funders, mostly from the business community, would love this, not just for the stability – and consequent surge in their share prices. It is also the best way to avoid the nightmare alternative promoted by the Kremlin – an ANC/MK/EFF alliance.

A Government of National Unity would bring its own consequences, many of which sow the seeds of very serious future challenges. On the other hand, that kind of arrangement would also leave McKenzie and the PA in the wilderness.

But what if on May 29, contrary to the opinions of experts who are relying on past trends, South African voters behave rationally? What if those smaller parties which by-election results tell us are very much in the ascendancy – ActionSA, IFP and the PA – do far better than the derisory numbers advanced by pollsters? Numbers that beggar belief.

I mean, 2% nationally for the IFP. Seriously? While Zuma’sMK has registered with Excel jockeys, these number crunchers appear not to have paid attention to 15 post-Nov’21 byelection victories by the IFP. All but two were in previously safe ANC seats, and all were recording massive increases in the party’s vote share.

And what about the surge in support by McKenzie’s PA which now regularly beats the DA in byelections dominated by Coloured voters (whose demographic group is 53% of the Western Cape, remember)?

Also, is there collective amnesia around the double-digit shares posted by ActionSA in rural areas, adding to their usual 20% return in urban areas, including Soweto? Plus Mmusi Maimane’s BOSA has not yet contested a byelection, but the sheer volume of in-person signatures of support tell us the former DA leader’s party will have a significant caucus in Parliament later this year.

When asked whether they believe in God, agnostics usually opt for yes, because it is the logical approach – after dying, by saying yes you lose nothing if He doesn’t exist, but everything if He does. Surely it’s time for the DA to approach the PA in the same way. If McKenzie is an unreformed crook, expose him. If your opinions are based on nothing other than hearsay, take the agnotic’s approach.

The DA doesn’t need to warmly embrace McKenzie and the PA. But at the very least it should dial back on the malice. Driving the PA into the arms of competitors is illogical. It is potentially destructive for the entire MPC project that, as Steenhuisen’s posters tell us, could be South Africa’s salvation.

*Alec Hogg is the editor of BizNews

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