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ASRI REPORT: Power politics and the politics of power

Nov 15, 2021

By Staff Writer

With hung councils being the state of affairs, political parties are currently involved in negotiations, failing which bi-elections will have to be run in around a third of municipalities.

Meanwhile, Eskom recently announced it could not budget for repairs, despite its r400 billion debt and continuous bailouts.

Former president FW De Klerk passed away on Thursday, leaving a message apologising for his role in apartheid. Yet, he continued to deny that it was a crime against humanity; De Klerk refused to testify at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and had continued to protect officials from the apartheid regime.

Speaking to Radio Islam International, Angelo Fick, Director of research at ASRI, argued that power politics mainly informed coalitions in South Africa – those seeking to maintain power, and other parties, which are looking at how this will help or hinder their chances in the 2024 provincial, national poll. 

“They seem to be wanting to settle old scores, and the gaze that they have on the national election of 2024 is cynical because they’re not going to focus on citizens’ needs. They’re going to focus on [the needs of] their parties, which is power, access to power and the resource control allowed by political power. 

Mr Fick also lamented the political spin, which is being put forward by these political parties, in the DA’s case, arguing that their performance was better than that of 2019, when in fact, the results required to be compared to the 2016 poll, which would show a tremendous decline. 

Further, in the case of the ANC, Mr Fick argued that the growth of smaller parties, independents and professional and ratepayer associations, which contested the 2021 poll, do indicate that the ANC’s losses are not only a result of the party splintering as its national chairperson Mr Gwede Mantashe claimed.

Regarding Eskom, Mr Fick argued that it was all about power and access to resources. Mr Fick further lamented that the looting continues in the utility and that it is the smaller fruit that is being charged. In contrast, the more prominent players continue to benefit from the utility’s resources. He also criticised the continued bailouts and wondered when actually will the entity be separated.

He did also ponder if it were maybe time for South Africans to rise above Eskom, as they rose above the ANC in the previous poll, “South Africa may need to move beyond Eskom, and what I mean by that is not the abolition, but the diversification as an urgent level of policy.” He did caution against the temptation for vigilante justice, arguing that this may disempower whistle-blowers, for example.

Further, he criticised statements by the country’s Energy Minister at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow advocating the continued use of Cole. Significantly, Mr Fick argues that Mr Mantashe also speaks on behalf of the ANC, which is partially at odds with President Ramaphosa. He also lamented how many politicians legislate on behalf of big business and not the citizenry.

Regarding the death of former president de Klerk, Mr Fick pointed out how he had previously refused to testify at the TRC. He further argued that maybe his death will allow for South Africans to find a way to deal with the past and shape our future, “it may be time for us to rethink our political position, not to overcome the past, but to come to terms with how we’re going to make that path sensible for ourselves at this moment.”

Concerning the medium-term budget, Mr Fick lamented how it did not focus on inequality and tackling this much, arguing that this was the only way to move forward holistically and beneficially.



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