Why young black voters are turning to the DA
September 19, 2013 § 5 Comments
A minor disclaimer* This article originally appeared on the Cape Times. I am very much aware of the fact that many people will be outraged by the claim that I make here.
We can deny it as much as we want but we have to face what is really going on. In the last election, the DA admitted that they only managed 6% of the black vote. Even if they increase that by another 1%, it’s still taking away from the ANC and that cannot be denied. While the DA takes little pieces of the young black vote, the ANC is not counter balancing that by taking the white, coloured or Indian vote from the DA. The minority voters are also deserting the ANC. These are facts. I really don’t see the DA taking more than 8-10% of the black vote in the up coming election. But a vote taken away from the ANC is still one too many and the leadership needs to admit that.
A young black fellow by the name Mabine Seabe penned a column for the City Press with the title, “Why I Joined the DA“. He is an influential figure on social networks and those of us who know him were not really surprised by his pronouncement.
He is a very politically engaged and interesting young man. At one point, I called him the encyclopedia of South African politics on Twitter. If I have doubts about who is who or what they did in politics, it is common for me to ask Seabe for input.
I trust he wouldn’t be vilified or called a sell-out for his choice to join the Democratic Alliance (DA) and I applaud him for making it. All South Africans should feel free to make their own political choices without fear. We should not malign people for making known their political choice, just like one shouldn’t question someone for choosing to be Anglican instead of Methodist.
What makes it interesting is how black people feel they need to justify their decision of joining the DA. Mabine felt compelled to do so in his column this past Sunday. Personally, I have a number of issues with the DA, particularly when it communicates to black people in a bid to show that they are in touch. Especially their claim that they fought apartheid.
He began his column with the following anecdote:
“During my high school days, we had a class called divinity [or bible study]. It was during one lesson that the class was introduced to a gentleman who set out to prove that God was nonexistent. Through his travels, reading and speaking to people, he in fact achieved the opposite, in that he came to believe in God. The reason I recall this story is because it is similar to how I was once an uninformed DA critic. For a very long time I was sceptical about the organisation and its agenda.”
Seabe is a talented and smart guy. He is the type of young, future leader the ANC should have been paying attention to but didn’t. Instead, it deems voices like his, that demand some sort of modernisation of the ANC, as belonging to ‘white liberals’. The fact that Seabe considered an alternative to the ANC is an indication of the sense of disillusionment that many young, smart voters are confronted with. I suspect that a few young turks will also be emboldened to join the DA.
The ANC practices archaic politics; the young voters are not bound to the past. Yes, they may bear the consequences of that past, even if they weren’t around during apartheid, but they aren’t attached to it.
The ANC needs to start embracing and trying to understand the emerging, young, black mindset. Young people today were never exiled or in prison. There is a different mindset that the ANC needs to start appealing to now, and it’s the kind that Mabine has. The more the ANC feels irrelevant to them, the more they will find the DA appealing, even if it is reluctantly.
In the US, they have shown that young people’s voting choices usually stay the same throughout their lives.When Ronald Reagan assumed office, he created a generation of Republicans for years to come. The only reason the first George Bush lost the election to Bill Clinton in 1992 is because of billionaire Ross Perot’s entry into the election, which took many of the Republican votes.
And right now, Barack Obama has built a new generation of Democrat voters.
Unfortunately for the ANC, President Jacob Zuma does not really appeal to the ANC. In fact, a great deal of how the party does things does not appeal to the Seabe mindset, but many voters stay out of obligation. The ANC needs to wake up and smell the coffee before more people decide to up and leave.
The ANC needs to evolve or the DA will eat it up. It’s time the ANC let young blood with new and modern idea lead.