IS it true that the ancestors will turn on anyone who votes against the ANC in the upcoming elections? This is a message that was apparently delivered by Zizi Kodwa to supporters of his party in Tsitsikamma recently.
Kodwa is a national executive member of the ANC and the former spokesperson of President Jacob Zuma. The president himself is fond of using the ancestor bogeyman during his campaigns for his party.
He also raised the ancestor reprisal when addressing supporters in Idutywa recently. What is next? Are they now going to take their campaign trail to the graveside and ask the dead to vote for the ANC?
A few weeks ago it was Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s deputy president, who told people in Atteridgeville that God and the ancestors wanted every South African to vote for the ANC. I am not sure how Ramaphosa is able to discern the will of God for South Africa, but I think the ruling party is treading on dangerous territory.
People who think they have a divine right to rule struggle to accept it when they are democratically unseated from power. They see an electoral loss as being against the will of God, and this toxic mixture of religion and politics not only encourages fatalism but also people who are fanatical with power.
We know that religion is often the breeding ground for fanaticism. Notice that this fear of ancestors or the manipulation of God is used only when addressing blacks and this means that the ruling party is stereotyping black people.
It thinks that black South Africans are a homogenous group who are unable to discern between facts and fiction. Black South Africans are not gullible and not all of them believe in the efficacy of such outdated beliefs.
The ANC has to accept this fact and also that it does not have hegemony of black South Africans even though it favours the term “our people”. I know the party likes to parade itself as being the font of knowledge as to what is in the best interest of South African blacks.
It finds the idea of blacks being independent and exercising their democratic right to choose a party of their choice to be repulsive. This is democracy and many black South Africans have genuine grievances against the ruling party, and the use of cheap opportunism and manipulation will not win them over.
Last week I heard from a domestic worker in the area outside Mthatha that they were told to bring 20l containers to receive free paraffin courtesy of the government. This process was overseen by an ANC councillor who reminded the recipients of how good the government was to them. This woman commented it was the first time for her and those in her settlement to receive this kind of assistance from government.
These are the things that alienate some black South Africans from the ruling party. The manipulation of the poor for political gain is deplorable.
The manipulation of God is even worse. Just tell us what you stand for and stop using superstition and manipulation.
Rev Afrika Mhlophe, pastor of Good News Community Church in KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth