2019 South African general election: Analysis and News

'These elections weren't a battle of ideas but rather a battle of personalities'

South Africans took to the polls last Wednesday to vote in the national and provincial election.

The African National Congress (ANC) emerged victorious nationally, and the Democratic Alliance is the official opposition with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) taking the third position.

Read: Maimane not in Malema and Ramaphosa's league and lacks charisma, say DA members

What do these results mean to ordinary South Africans?

To discuss the election outcome, 702's Eusebius McKaiser speaks to University of Pretoria political scientist, Professor Siphamandla Zondi.

Zondi says when looking at the voter turnout, certain assumptions need to be factored into the picture.

That enables us to either take in or take out the idea of comparison with global experiences. Voter participation generally can be driven by two dynamics, one is self-interest and the second consideration is one of legitimacy.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Political scientist - University of Pretoria

People vote because they are committed to democracy, he says, and the two are mutually exclusive and both very important.

Then you find out that there is a third dimension in this discussion, which is a procedural one. I vote because voting is a beautiful thing to do, it is something I must do every five years.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Political scientist - University of Pretoria

He believes that the problem is that we need to stimulate people to vote and make voting a cool thing to do, not only for the youth but for everyone.

Zondi weighs in on the question of political leaders' personalities versus their policy content.

The drama of politics has drawn us a lot more than the hard, boring stuff of the science of politics which is how the parties aim to ensure the distribution of resources and power. Secondly, there is very little that distinguishes the two.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Political scientist - University of Pretoria

He says political parties say the things they believe citizens want to hear.

Therefore political personalities become essential as the performer in politics and that becomes important. These elections were not a battle of ideas but rather a struggle of personalities.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Political scientist - University of Pretoria

In the ANC you had CR and in the DA, Maimane, who needed to do better than Tony Leon and Helen Zille.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Political scientist - University of Pretoria

A severe challenge in terms of political strategy for the opposition is that it had a field day between 2009 and 2017, he adds. It was doing well because it used the fact that there was a leadership failure and it could pitch itself as a better alternative.

Then the ANC changed in Nasrec and flipped the script and says what the opposition was saying, and that made it very difficult for the opposition to come back from that.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Political scientist - University of Pretoria

Listen below to the full interview:


This article first appeared on 702 : 'These elections weren't a battle of ideas but rather a battle of personalities'


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