South African Elections: An Autopsy and Prognosis

Published on 14th May 2019

This is an autopsy of South Africa’s 6th national elections that have come and gone amidst allegations of vote rigging. The allegations of vote fraud were made by about 35 political parties out of the 48 political parties that were registered to participate in the 08 May 2019 national and provincial elections. The Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF) also complained about vote rigging through its Deputy President Floyd Shivambu but backtracked upon realising that their votes were increasing. Other few political parties also withdrew citing different reasons. There are also allegations of Russian interference is South African elections.

About 27 political parties intend to go to court to challenge the elections outcome. During a press briefing on 13 May, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), supported the smaller parties that want to challenge election results and said that elections in South Africa have not been free and fair since 1994. He described the irregularities as shenanigans. The DA had also called for an audit of the election results during their press briefing after their federal executive meeting to assess the election results. The predominantly white DA reportedly wants to get rid of Mmusi Maimane after the party dropped by 1.4% of the votes. Africans are as expendable in these white controlled parties the same way Marcus Garvey said African Americans were expendable in the Communist Party of the US.

The IEC resisted the aggrieved 27 political parties’ request for an independent audit of the election results on grounds that there is no provision for an independent audit in the electoral law. The electoral body further said it would oppose these parties’ court bid to challenge the legitimacy of the 2019 election results. IEC officials said the court challenge by these aggrieved parties was unlawful. This means the ANC and its western backers are winning elections by force. Opposition political parties are whipped into line like it has happened in other countries on the continent. This is coercion.

If elections are truly democratic and a means of changing the lives of the African people who were oppressed for more than three centuries to afford them an opportunity to determine their own destiny, then the will of the people should not be thwarted through manipulation of elections by the ANC in cahoots with the white South African elite and the West.

Many Africans have already realised that elections are a charade and a facade. The IEC revealed that ten million eligible voters in South Africa did not register to vote. That is a huge number. Of the 27.7 million registered voters, only about 16 million to 17 million cast their votes on 8 May 2019. About 20 million people in South Africa do not participate in the elections. Voter apathy reminiscent of the western countries has already crept in because of lack of faith in the electoral system in a country that is a quarter century old. In the US, voting has been taking place for over 200 years and in Canada for over 125 years but elections in those countries have not brought changes especially to indigenous people and African Americans.

When white elites and the West realised that the African people were fighting to liberate themselves, they interceded and blunted the revolution by introducing a process they would be able to control by remote - the elections. The apartheid South African government could not manage internal and external insurrection, especially internal. It is going to take the African people another three-and-a--half centuries to determine their future while white elites and the West would be controlling the African people’s thinking processes. Future generations would be so brainwashed and indoctrinated that they will believe as the Freedom Charter misleads them that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it” when it, in fact, belongs to the African people.

Two leading PAC leaders who were released from Robben Island in 1987/88 and 1989 respectively, Zeph Mothopeng and Jafta Masemola were against the PAC taking part in the negotiations with officials of the apartheid government which were initially held in secret between the ANC and apartheid government officials. Observing a joke that these elections have become, it should not be difficult to fathom why these PAC leaders were against the PAC joining in the negotiations fray.

On the 13 April 2019, after attending the reburial in Munsieville of four POQO/PAC cadres who were hanged on the 16th June 1964, I attended the 29th anniversary of the commemoration of the assassination of Masemola in Atteridgeville, Pretoria where I was asked to speak. After delivering my impromptu speech, Ike Mthimunye who was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island together with Masemola and about five other PAC political prisoners, also gave an interesting speech.

Mthimunye said Masemola told them on Robben Island about instances on the African continent in which African leaders were incarcerated by colonial governments; emerged to lead their countries and their fellow struggle comrades were imprisoned or assassinated. He gave two examples about Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Josiah Mwangi Kariuki in Kenya and Dr Kamuzu Hastings Banda in Malawi and Orton Chirwa.

Oginga Odinga was arrested following a fallout with Jomo Kenyatta and Kariuki was assassinated. Chirwa was arrested for disagreeing with Kamuzu Banda and died in detention. Let me add the third example about two Zimbabwean struggle heroes Herbert Chitepo assassinated in a car bomb in 1975 in exile in Lusaka, Zambia and Josiah Tongogara who died in a mysterious accident in 1979 on the eve of the Zimbabwean independence.

Masemola and Mothopeng died in 1990 and after their deaths, PAC leaders joined the negotiations to which Masemola and Mothopeng were opposed. Masemola and Mothopeng wanted to prevent a situation in which the PAC led the African people into a corrupt capitalist electoral system and legitimised and endorsed an enslaving system like we have throughout the continent which is controlled by remote from western capitals. It is clear that Masemola and Mothopeng tried to prevent the PAC as the vanguard of the African people from being assimilated into the imperialist way of life and co-opted by the ANC which the PAC described in its 1959 founding documents as being no longer among the ranks of the liberation movement.

Have Elections Brought Change In Africa And Benefitted Africans?

Elections in Africa have not benefitted the African people, they have instead led to coups d'état engendered by corrupt civilian governments and entrenched dictatorships both acute and benign. The armies that staged the coups became themselves corrupt which resulted in a vicious circle. The first victims of coups in Africa were Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria on January 15, 1966 followed by Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana on February 24, 1966.

Kenya gained its independence in 1964 and Kenya African National Union (KANU) ruled until 2002 when it lost to Mwai Kibaki’s National Rainbow Coalition. Kibaki himself was once a member of KANU and served in both Jomo Kenyatta’s and Arap Moi’s governments. Kenya’s incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta is Jomo Kenyatta’s son and the leader of Kenya’s opposition party Raila Odinga is the son of Oginga Odinga. It is clear that power revolves around the families of that country’s elite like elsewhere on the continent. For example, in South Africa, the children of the Nelson Mandela’s, Oliver Tambo’s and Walter Sisulu’s are the country’s ambassadors, cabinet minister and Members of Parliament. There is not a single child of Robert Sobukwe, Zeph Mothopeng, and Jafta Masemola, Steve Biko or Onkgopotse Tiro’s family who occupy those positions.

Botswana gained its independence in 1966 and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is still in power. In September this year, the BDP will be 53 years in power. Sir Seretse Khama, the country’s founding President’s elder son, Ian Khama served one term as deputy President and President for two terms and does not want to relinquish power. One of his brothers, Tshekedi, is a cabinet minister and also served as a Cabinet Minister under his brother. Ian Khama wanted Tshekedi to become Botswana’s Deputy President to pave the way for him to become that country’s next head of state. Apparently the people of Botswana frowned upon such an idea and said that Botswana was not a Khama dynasty.

Zambia also gained independence in 1964 and the country’s government was led by Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party (UNIP). UNIP ruled Zambia under a one party system for 27 years until the people of Zambia called for change. Frederick Chiluba’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy beat UNIP in the elections and there has been a change of government for about three times since 1991.

ZANU PF in Zimbabwe has been in power since 1980 and Swapo in Namibia has been in power since 1990. Frelimo in Mozambique and MPLA in Angola have been in power since 1975. South Africa is following suit by rigging election yet pretending elections in South Africa are free and fair.

My prognosis is that South Africa must reform its electoral system to avert a revolution or an insurrection. The ANC government and other governments on the continent should change or reform their electoral systems so that when they lose elections they should vacate office. Elections in Africa have clearly not benefited the African people.

South Africa should introduce an electoral system that uses both electronic and manual voting to have a fall-back position should vote rigging beckon. Ballot papers that have encrypted ID numbers of voters should be introduced to enable the ballot papers to be traceable and tracked. Friendly electoral laws should be enacted so that aggrieved parties should challenge vote fraud. Because one of the complaints was multiple voting, transporting of voters should be outlawed. The ANC should not employ its members to run the elections.

South Africans are waiting for the outcome of the court challenge by aggrieved political parties.

By Sam Ditshego,

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