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Ideologies in South African Government

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POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES: SOUTH AFRICA

Political Science 114

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“Success in politics demands that you must take your people into confidence about your views and state them very clearly, very politely, very calmly, but nevertheless, state them openly.” -Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

The definition of what constitutes to a political ideology defined by Thomson (2004:31) and Heywood (2007:64) would be: a guiding system on which a political party bases their actions on which includes the beliefs, goals, ideas and values on which it is built on. The dominant feature of political parties is centrally based on how change could be brought about, their views for the future and the relation between the current power relationships. The term ideology could be seen in a total different context as Mahler stated, “They can unite groups, serve as rallying cries, help to articulate philosophies, or serve as tools of political manipulation…however, we see the same two components: a relation to political ideas, and a relation to political behaviour.” (Mahler, 2008:34). The following essay will focus on the two-leading opposition political parties within the South African government; the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA). It will give the reader an insight and discuss the ideology that drives these two parties by analysing how they act within the South African sectors on an economical and social level based on evidences gained from appropriate sources.

The African National Congress is the oldest known African liberation movement, it was based on equality and respect derived from the values of the Christian faith. Its leadership structure consisted of African doctors, lawyers, church ministers and teachers (De Jager, 2015:154). However, the party had to “make the transition from [a] liberation movement to a political party to ruling party while keeping these varying ideologies, traditions and interests content and unified.” (De Jager, 2015:154), this shows that the party had to make this crucial transition to secure its power and influences on the people. The ending of the Apartheid period in 1994 marked a significant if not most important evolution in South Africa, the ANC since has become the predominant ruling party in the country, having won every national election since 1994. The ANC currently holds 249 of 400 seats in the national assembly which is more than double to the Democratic Alliance the opposition party. This proves that the dominant party holds a very powerful and influential position, which in turn makes the ideologies the party follows important to those trying to understand the countries political structure and system. Looking at the ANC’s manifesto released in 2009, on the second page of the manifesto the ideologies and the party’s basic principles are found. “The ANC has always stood for basic democratic principles that include: a constitution which guarantees human rights for all, the right to minimum standard of living, including the right to access health, education, social security, food and water; the right of all people to elect a government of their choice in regular, free and fair elections… (National Elections Manifesto, 2009). Among other facts of freedom of religion, equality on all basis (gender and race), and social justice and so on. Through these basic principles of the ANC one can see that the party identifies as indirectly a democratic party, as the principles could be associated with as a democratic belief. The core of the ANC’s principles many different ideologic beliefs can be found. Starting off with a Liberalism which is also founded in majority of political parties which is commonly known as “meta-ideology” (Heywood, 2007:31). The ANC’s principles there are some points which reflect a liberalistic approach such as the belief in equality and that every individual is born equal and “…equal rights and entitlements, notably in the form of legal equality (‘equality before the law’) and political equality (‘one person, one vote; one vote, one value’) (Heywood, 2007:32). Taking into consideration, the ANC’s core principles one can see that it reflects in the above. Other aspects of equality consist of a fair and equal constitution which pledges basic human rights for all and so forth.

Some principles of the ANC can be reflected under Toleration which Heywood defined as, “... (the willingness of people to allow others to think, speak and act in ways of which they disapprove) is both a guarantee of individual and means of social enrichment.” (Heywood, 2007:32). This too in many ways was reflected in the ANC’s principles: “freedom from discrimination on racial, gender or any other ground…” (National Elections Manifesto 2009). Another liberalistic key idea that reflects within the ANC’s principles is constitutionalism, according to Mahler (2008:23) “…[constitutionalism] can be best described as limited government…there are certain things that the government may not do, whether it wants to or not; there are certain parameters beyond which the government may not go.” In the case of South Africa, it is set as a written constitution and is set in place “to regulate the allocation of functions, powers, and duties among various agencies and officers of government, and define the relationship between these and the public.” (Mahler, 2008:25). Constitutions play an important role within the political system as mentioned above it is a guideline for both the government and the public and acts as a barrier between so both parties know in which context they can act out their political and social rights.

Another ideology that reflects within the ANC is Social Democracy, which is main characteristic according to Heywood (2007:45) is “…a concern for the underdog in society, the weak and vulnerable”. Further down in the same paragraph Heywood (2007:45) explains the main principles behind a Social Democracy such as “…welfarism, redistribution and social justice.” During the past 23 years South Africa saw the beginning of social benefits as mentioned in the above and economic equality these included new wages and regulation benefits as well as workers rights. As the ANC promises, “an equitable, sustainable, and inclusive growth path that brings decent work and sustainable livelihoods; education; health; safe and secure communities; and rural development…” (National Elections Manifesto 2009). The ANC took a bold step in the right direction when the party passed the labour legislation act which main aim was to support and improve the work environment and quality for the people of South Africa in different work forces.  It also took a step in improving the state welfare, this is done by investing the money government gets from taxes into the community to sustain the standard of living for all the citizens. For example, the government started to educate the public on HIV/AIDS and free tests are available and well as medication for those who cannot afford it. The government has also promised the basic human necessities such as food, water, education and housing in the socio-economic policy constructed in 1994 by the ANC. However, due to cost constraints the development has/is taking time nonetheless in recent years there has been an increase in the amount of RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) houses being built giving a more secure and stable homes for those who live in shacks and metal plate houses. From this one can sum up the definition of a welfare state, it is a concept that entails the government and states to promote and protect the well-being of the citizens on an economic and social level.

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