John Scott Masthead
December 23 2010 at 07:11

The New Democracy insists it is more important to donner rivals in your own party than the opposition in other parties. Or at very least, to donner those on your own side first.

Recent headlines have spelt out this principle. Here are just a few: "ANC meeting ends in chaos"; "Chairs fly at Cope meeting"; "I'll beat him up".

Actually, it isn't all that new.

When I stood for parliamentary election as a PFP candidate 23 years ago, I soon discovered that your opponents were in the party you wished to beat at the polls, and your enemies in the party behind you, smiling as they metaphorically sharpened their daggers.

It never degenerated, though, into flinging chairs at one another.

Not that the throwing of chairs was an unknown phenomenon, but it was usually carried out by the Nats of old against other parties.

They used to break up meetings of the United Party and the HNP in this way. Those chairs did far more damage than the light plastic ones that fly around conference halls these days.

They were heavy, wooden folding chairs, and if they hit you on the head you had to be carried out folded up yourself, on a stretcher.

But I can understand the need of ANC members to shaft their own kind. It's the royal road to power, which opposition parties can't give you.

All right, there's also the vote as a means of attaining a top, well-paying position, but it's an uncertain process, and you can never be sure delegates will vote the right way. Far rather try to illegitimise your rivals, and declare them unfit to vote, as happened at the ANC's Boland regional conference.

You can even "savagely attack" the Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, as did the local branch of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association, if you think he has taken sides against your man. Fortunately, in this case, the savage attack was verbal and not violently physical.

Two men want to be leader of Cope, and have sought to be ever since the party was founded two years ago.

It doesn't put them into governmental power (they've been there, done that, got the ANC T-shirt), but it would make the incumbent a big frog in a rapidly evaporating pond.

No wonder Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa had to be pulled away from each other's throats the other night. A simple, democratically fair vote would leave one of them the loser. That is why, once again, votes should be avoided like the plague, unless you can fix them.

At least only the Moroccan and Western Saharan delegates made war at the much-maligned World Festival of Youth and Students, while many of the other delegates amused themselves kissing one another. If only more political groupings would kiss and make up, there would be less regular chaos and fewer flying chairs.

It would almost be worth spending R69 million, so long as the parties themselves paid this out of their own pockets for making love, not war.

But trying to find examples of imperialism to defeat, the festival's main aim, doesn't come cheap. There was hardly any money left over for food, drink, accommodation and transport. I've located one, though - Cecil John Rhodes is still buried in Zimbabwe. No wonder that country is in such a mess.

It's too late to donner him, but exhume him from the Matobo hills, and all should be well.


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