SA politics not looking forward

Former President Thabo Mbeki.
Former President Thabo Mbeki.

There is something good about seeing former president Thabo Mbeki and ex-DA leader Tony Leon publicly taking an interest in the affairs of their political parties once again.

It shows that their retirement from active politics has not meant disengagement with developments in the country as well as within the ANC and the DA.

However, it does say something about the state of the country's two biggest parties that they have had to turn to the past in order to secure votes in the highly contested Gauteng province.

In the DA's case, it would seem, the party has roped in Leon in a bid to get its traditional white voter base going out there in numbers on May 8 to vote for the Mmusi Maimane-led party.

The move came amidst voter surveys indicating high approval rating for President Cyril Ramaphosa even among white voters.

By bringing in Leon, the DA hopes its traditional constituencies - some of which have not really warmed up to Maimane and Gauteng premier candidate Solly Msimanga - would be convinced to remain loyal.

As for the ANC, since Mbeki's axing as president in 2008, the party has been bleeding votes in the province - mainly among black professionals and the rest of the black middle strata.

Getting Mbeki's public endorsement, the party in the province hopes would assist in convincing these disaffected voters "to return home" and therefore prevent Gauteng from falling into the hands of a DA-led coalition government.

While these are perfectly acceptable campaigning methods, they tell us something that is worrying about the current leadership of these two parties - that they are not as appealing as they should be with their traditional constituencies and therefore have to rely on the credibility of past leaders.

They also tell us about the inability of our politics to look forward. With all the problems we are faced with, ranging from high youth unemployment to power shortages and the introduction of disruptive new technologies in companies, we are unable to find new leaders who will inspire SA to new heights.

Instead the parties fight this campaign relying mostly on past leaders - dead and alive.

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