Friday, April 24, 2009

South Africa votes

South Africa went to the polls yesterday in national and provincial elections. Now the results are beginning to come back - no thanks to the Independent Electoral Commission's crap election results site - and it looks like the ANC is just going to miss getting the two-thirds majority which lets them change the constitution. Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Alliance has done well and managed to win control of Western Cape province. Both are Good Things, in a big picture sense - its always good for parties to have limits on their power, and to have to compete strongly for it.

But beyond the big picture, the election participants are somewhat uninspiring. The ANC's presidential candidate is Jacob Zuma, who some may remember from his messy rape trial a few years back (he was ultimately acquitted, after running the usual defence of accusing his victim of being a slut and a liar and arguing it was all consensual anyway. She was forced to seek political asylum in the Netherlands to avoid retaliation from Zuma's supporters). Then there's the corruption allegations which just don't seem to go away. OTOH, the opposition's attacks on Zuma seemed to cross the line into thinly-veiled racism, despite their anti-racist roots. As for the grandly-named Congress of the People, they're just a patronage network without a patron anymore. I wouldn't consider any of them to be worthy of my vote - but fortunately I don't live in South Africa, so I don't have to make that icky decision.

Update: It's now looking like the ANC will make two-thirds after all. Damn. It's not that I'm particularly worried about constitutional amendments - they had an amending majority last term but didn't use it - but more the principle of the thing. Governments should be weak and divided and unable to make such changes without having to seek and gain the consent of others.