South African politics hasn’t been good to lovers of liberty over the last few years. The only party that once resembled a force for good in South Africa — the Democratic Alliance — has all but abandoned the requisite principles that make up a free society. The ruling African National Congress has continued its seemingly-obligatory chipping away of personal and economic freedom. And, the third biggest kid on the block, the Economic Freedom Fighters, has thrown its lot in completely with the tactics of thuggish terrorism. Oh, and its policies will kill us all.
What, then, should freedom-minded South Africans do at the ballot box come the 2019 general election?
I cannot tell you who to vote for from a libertarian perspective. It is painstakingly difficult to find which political party or which politician is the ‘best’ on matters concerning your liberty and your property. As a second-best course of action, however, I have decided to list the three political parties I regard as potentially the worst options to pick in the 2019 general election.
To be clear, these are not necessarily the worst on liberty and property, but they are the worst ones you could vote for. If you wish to vote for an insignificant, small communist or fascist party based somewhere in the Kalahari, feel free. But if you vote for any of these three, you may be actively contributing to the loss of your own freedom and the freedom of those around you.
3. Democratic Alliance (DA)
The DA is the best worst option, which means there are better options than them out there.
Voting for the DA is no longer an act of voting for the ‘lesser evil’ or the ‘most viable’ opposition to the ANC. Any vote for the DA now is a signal to its leaders that the abandoning of its principles is a-okay and that there is no looming punishment in its immediate future. For every extra vote the DA receives, it is getting the nod to move further away from respecting property rights, personal liberty, and the market process.
The DA’s most egregious sin is this:
It started as a very small party, securing a mere 1.73% of the vote in the 1994 election, under the banner of the Democratic Party. But it progressively built up a solid following with its message of limited government and more room for the individual to breathe and go about his own business. It then, however, used this solid liberal base and started abandoning its principles to further gain more support. (Apparently, bringing more people into the liberal fold was taking too long.) It now takes its solid liberal base for granted while stabbing them in the back at every conceivable opportunity.
There is no discernible DA policy (that is part of its electoral agenda, at least) that is pushing for free enterprise, personal liberty, and property rights. Indeed, despite shifting all the blame of the Cape Town water crisis onto national government, not one DA figure has started lobbying for national government to privatize the collection, treatment, and distribution of water. All they are saying is that national government is not helping adequately. The DA also put out one press release condemning the ANC’s intention to water down the property rights provision in the Constitution. One press release is all they could do for property rights, the conditio sine qua non for a prosperous and free South Africa.
The DA is not the party for advocates of freedom. But if you don’t care about freedom and intend to vote for an obviously bad choice anyway, pick the DA rather than the other two below.
2. African National Congress (ANC)
Voting for the ANC at this stage in our democratic development is irrational for everyone who is not a tenderpreneur, bureaucrat, or politician.
They inherited a complete mess from the Apartheid government and proceeded to do next to nothing about it, and where they did decide to act, they made matters worse. The best thing the ANC ever did was enacting the Constitution, and that’s about it.
Its most recent reprehensible act was to decide to take away the provisions in the Constitution requiring government to pay compensation for property it expropriates. While at the time of writing they have not yet moved on this, the decision itself is unforgivable.
Jacob Zuma’s corruption and the incompetence of the civil service are microscopic problems when compared to the future that awaits us should property rights be watered down. And Cyril Ramaphosa is not going to save us from anything, given that he supported the decision to expropriate without compensation the moment it was taken.
1. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
Voting for the EFF is literally — and I use this word sparingly — like voting for the Nazi Party in 1933 Germany or the National Party in 1948 South Africa. The party is very upfront about its intention to break down rather than build up, to divide rather than unite, to violate rather than protect.
The EFF recently decided that becoming a terrorist organization would do well for its electoral prospects, invading private property and using violence to make a political statement (the very definition of terrorism). It later used violence again, outside a school no less, to score political points.
But the EFF’s greatest sin is not in its conduct, but its underlying philosophy and its policies. The EFF rejects private property per se (when it suits them), and believes that the State should own property and lease it to the plebs. EFF leaders have expressed their admiration for such illustrious figures as Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, and Fidel Castro, all three of whom succeeded only in destroying their own countries and oppressing their people.
Anyone who is politically conscious — and not simply being swept up in electoral excitement — who votes for the EFF is likely a committed masochist. There is no rational reason to vote for a party that believes the State is more important than the people (or, bizarrely, that they are the same thing) and that the people should not be trusted with property of their own. This was the fundamental ideology of Apartheid, and the EFF seeks to continue that legacy.
In summary: The DA will stab you in the back while whispering sweet nothings in your ear, the ANC already has one knife in your chest and more are coming, and the EFF will slowly starve you to death before using a knife to cut up your corpse for dinner. Come 2019, there are no good options, but there are better options than the authoritarianism promised by our three biggest parties. These ‘better options’ are any party other than those listed above.
But remember, whoever you vote for in 2019, make absolutely sure, under any and all circumstances, that it is not the EFF.