South African election campaigns have never been about policy ever since we became a democracy.
People have always elected in terms of feel good history without paying much attention to promises made in policy statements.
Nevertheless political parties went through the ritual of drafting election manifestos for what they were worth even if they were boring waffle and hardly ever reader friendly and straight to the point.
The coming election campaign is going to be the most opaque in the history of our democracy.
People will be treated as voting cattle more than ever before for the following reasons...
The ANC is now two political parties in one, each of which has a distinct policy to sell.
These two parties will dominate the election campaign because they constitute the largest and the second largest political parties in the country.
The party which came into power in December 2017 with Ramaphosa is the Reformist ANC [Ref ANC] which is nominally committed to minimizing corruption.
The Ref ANC are the custodians of the written policies of the ANC.
This party partially displaced the Looting ANC [Loot ANC] of Jacob Zuma which subscribes to an unwritten policy of indiscriminate looting.
The policy details of the Loot ANC are only expressed in coded language.
It is the Loot ANC which coined terms such as Radical Economic Transformation [RET].
The ordinary people are supposed to understand this as some bold unspecified steps which will magically achieve all the economic advancement for the people which has eluded the ANC since 1994.
However ANC officials or'‘comrades' are supposed to understand RET as an invitation to participate in indiscriminate looting in return for blind loyalty to the leadership clique.
Ramaphosa and his Ref ANC have appropriated the language of the Loot ANC and he is also promising RET to ordinary people but he has no promise for the benefit of the ANC officials.
Instead he promises to root out corruption which amounts to taking away the 'privileges' of these officials.
To give some substance to RET, Ramaphosa has also appropriated the language of the EFF which promises confiscation (of white land) without compensation [CWC].
However Ramaphosa and Malema do not mean the same thing by CWC.
Ramaphosa is only appropriating this language for purposes of the coming election.
He knows that it is not going to happen because it violates key clauses of the constitution.
A law can only be constitutional if it is for general application.
There cannot be a law which applies to some people and not to others without a rational criterion.
What criterion do you use to decide whose farm to confiscate?
The EFF tries to bypass this problem by proposing nationalization of all land.
By this roundabout method they hope to be able to enable the elites to loot the farms they covet and leave the rest in the use of current owners.
So the apparent consensus between the Ref ANC and the EFF on CWC is very superficial.
In my opinion it is the Loot ANC which would find it easy to agree with the EFF on the details of CWC.
Therefore a more likely alliance of the future is between the EFF and the Loot ANC.
It is Malema who said there are no permanent enemies in politics.
Malema is a fiercely ambitious young man.
In the past he has demonstrated that he wants to be filthy rich as soon as possible.
Malema invented state capture when he captured procurement in Limpopo long before the Guptas learned the rules of this game.
The racism and opportunism of the EFF is currently playing out in the Nelson Mandela Metro.
The political games that are going to be played after the 2019 elections are not going to be pretty.
Themba Mdlalose 13 April 2018