A personal blog with craft tutorials, reviews of books, films, and music, parenting advice, and opinions on society and politics.

February 12, 2014

#DAMarch: Implications, Should Haves, and The Ball

No comments :
Twitter\IsimiEssop
South Africa's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, marched to a square near the ruling party ANC's headquarters in Johannesburg today. The march was abandoned just before marchers reached the square, as things had descended into chaos. And much of the chaos was the result of ANC supporters gathering en masse to 'protect their headquarters'.

I was nervous following the Twitter stream of the march today (#DAMarch). I was really waiting for something very bad to happen - aside from the petrol bombs and bricks thrown at police. Thankfully the DA decided to turn back before any real harm was done in a vein similar to that of the DA's march to Cosatu House in 2013.

However, the dominating themes on Twitter bothered me.

There was the overarching narrative that there were no white people in the DA's marching band. Tweets were in this vein:
This disturbs me because I would be insulted if they were referring to me. Their implication is that the supporters do not have the freedom to make their own choices regarding a political party; that the ANC is the only party for black people to support, and the DA is the only party for whites. I understand that this impression comes from hundreds of years of slavery and oppression, but the implication is also that these so-called paid-for supporters follow only the money. Which is bad news for democracy indeed, if it were true.

It is sad that more white supporters did not show up to support their party, but Twitter commentators were correct in saying most of them were at work. According to South Africa - The Real Issues, white unemployment is at about 17%. In contrast, unemployment amongst the black population is estimated, as of 2013, to be at around 30%, according to Moneyweb. This is another post all on its own, but perhaps the DA hopes that eventually no one will be able to show up at protests on random days of the week because they will actually have a job.

Eventually many interpreted the situation as a design: White people were using black people to fight black people.
In my opinion, violence has no place in society. And the fact that ANC supporters pitched up with knobkierries, sticks, and bricks, and eventually petrol bombs, says a lot about who might be to blame for the chaotic end to what was planned to be a peaceful march.

The comment is disturbing for similar reasons to those enumerated above.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said that the ANC supporters were only there to defend the headquarters of the party. Some commentators believe the DA's march to Luthuli House was a bad decision - they should really have marched to the Department of Labour or the Union Buildings.
But the fact is that the ANC holds the majority in Parliament, the majority of powerful government positions, and the majority of transformative power. In essence, the DA is calling the ruling party out for not using its majority to create the jobs that it has been promising for years.

When the DA announced its planned march, I knew from the start that it might not have been such a great idea. It had the potential to become a history-making event.
However, though it did not end in tragedy, I have to muse that perhaps this response is just what the Democratic Alliance wanted just before the general elections this year, which some believe might be the most hotly-contested since 1994.

Although the DA march was ostensibly for 'real' jobs - and by this I assume they mean jobs that last, and not contractual government work - it ended up being about democracy and the Constitution. Perhaps this is what the DA intended, or it's simply one of the positive outcomes of a march that at first looks to have been a failure.
If the ANC is so certain of its place on the democratic podium of the land, perhaps it should learn to be less intolerant of other points of view. Commending the good behaviour of its members does nothing when the evidence is all over Twitter. I believe that the DA has thrown the ball, the ANC had it in their court, and they decided to trample on it.

{Image credit: Twitter\IsimiEssop}

No comments :