THERE is no narrative that on its own will help us understand the outcome of last week’s elections. What will help us are high levels of critical scepticism when it comes to attempts to impose preferred analyses by political parties, political commentators and the media.
The coming weeks must, therefore, be about below-the-surface analyses of the complex and contradictory messages contained in the general election results.
This exercise must start with us accepting that last week’s elections must be understood in terms of multiple narratives.
Those of us who dabble in political commentary and those who are leaders of political parties have already started doing battle on the basis of attempts to impose a selective reading of the election results on the country.
What follows is my attempt to impose on you, my dear reader, my own subjective and preliminary analysis of the electoral balance as we march to the 2016 local government elections.
Maybe not in this column, but in my writing in the weeks to come, I will try to contaminate my opinion with facts.
First of all, in our analysis of why the African National Congress (ANC) fell from 65.9% in 2009 to 62.15% this year, as well as the fact that, in absolute numbers, it suffered an erosion of about 200,000 votes, we must not bury our heads in the sand with respect to the fact that the gap between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA) is huge.
In fact, all opposition parties combined won only 37.85% of the vote.
In short, the ANC won another decisive election victory. Because referring to the victory of the ANC as decisive is upsetting to some South Africans, I have elected to refrain from doing any race and class analysis so as not to offend the racists, race denialists and class essentialists among us.
Also, as objective and balanced analysis is, to some among us, synonymous with criticising the ANC, allow me to be objective and balanced.
In this regard, I must warn the ANC to be more honest behind closed doors than it has been in the public domain about its performance.
While it is true that the speculation that the ANC would fall below 60% can be characterised only as wishful thinking of the delusional kind, it is equally delusional of ANC leaders to pretend that none of those who voted for the party cares about the Nkandlagate scandal.
Nor is it true that none of them cares about the gap between the ideals of the ANC and what it has become as a ruling party.
At national level, notwithstanding the weaknesses of the ANC, the majority of South African voters still do not regard the DA and other opposition parties as credible alternatives to the ANC.
However, if the ANC leadership continues being dismissive about the misgivings of its supporters in general, and the black middle class in particular, the Second Coming will be upon us much sooner than President Jacob Zuma desires and wishes.
If the Economic Freedom Fighters build on their good performance in future elections, and a workers’ party is formed to contest the 2019 and other elections thereafter, Jesus Christ may be seen driving through toll gantries in Gauteng in the not too distant future.
And what about the DA? This is a party that won fewer votes in 1994, in its incarnation as the Democratic Party, than the Freedom Front Plus.
In 1994, it had a 1.7% share of the national vote, in 2009, it was at 16.66%, and today it is close to winning a quarter or more of national support.
The DA is the only party that has grown consistently since the advent of democracy in 1994.
That said — and I’m not going to do any race analysis — the vast majority of black voters still do not trust the DA at national level, but this may be changing in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng.
All I am prepared to say about the poor showing of the governing party in Gauteng last week is that an ANC vote disappears every time a car passes under an e-toll gantry.
• Matshiqi is an independent political analyst.