2009 elections: where are the COPE posters?

It is hard to go anywhere in Johannesburg these days without seeing all sorts of election posters.

The ANC started way ahead of everyone else with the trendy youngsters vote ANC posters. That’s not what the posters said. (That’s just what I call the posters.) ANC election posters are almost always boring, plain, predictable. The two notable exceptions were the trendy youngsters vote ANC” ones and before that the very first 1994 posters with Madiba surrounded by the rainbow children. Visually the Mandela ones were really cool, but I am battling to find the images I mean online. It is easier to find the usual “Mandela for President” one that you see everywhere now. I have since lost my 1994 poster, otherwise I’d have posted a pic. I still have a pin with the one I mean, so maybe I’ll post that pic closer to the elections or whenever I remember.

The UDM had those cool billboards on the M1 north and south with Holomisa that we could not miss as we sat in traffic. The enviromentalist in me really liked this approach because you had visibility that was kinder on the environment. It was much later that UDM paper posters went up on street poles, but there are fewer of these than for the other parties. I am also quite chuffed by Holomisa’s new status as the rabble rouser in the lead up to the elections. I like being entertained in the lead up to elections. Most of the time political figures make me very tired, so excitement is good. I still have no idea who the other people in the UDM are. Once I saw the vice president on what must have been his most inarticulate day ever. At least I hope that was an off day and that he doesn’t always sound like that.

The DA posters are very strange. Nobody I know can figure out whether the faces are people we are supposed to know, or whether the DA’s narrow reading of race and identification has led to random faces chosen to stand in for phenotypically African, phenotypically Indian, phenotypically coloured, etc. It is more than interesting that the white person on the posters is identifyable as the DA leader, Helen Zille. What? They could not get some of the known Black faces to be on the posters? Instead we have anonymous random Black faces for the different kinds of Blacks, and an identifiable white person. The DA posters reveal the real elephant in that party’s room: the equation of race with phenotype and the slippery sloap that leads to.

But this posting was actually supposed to be about COPE’s strange relationship to election posters. I have been wondering aloud about first the absence of COPE posters, and now the boring ones we have started to see on street poles in the last week. Is this a clue of things to come from COPE? How can the new kid on the block be so overwhelmed so soon?

The late COPE election posters are dull beyond measure. COPE seems to be competing with the ANC for boring. The colours are the same as the Zuma ANC ones all over the show. Now, the ANC can afford to have boring posters because they will win the election, as the default party that most South Africans will vote for. COPE should be trying to do something else.

What happened to all that excitement over young people organising for COPE? I expected that there would be some funky electioneering from their end, but this was not to be. Where is my entertainment, COPE, where, where, where? First the delays over an election strategy, then the missing COPE posters, then the debacle over leadership and the presidential candidate. It is all confusing. And you don’t want to be confusing in the run up to the elections because that will cost you badly.

For its own sake, I do hope that COPE gets its act together and starts having more interesting visibility in the run up to the elections. There was almost tangible excitement leading up to the November convention and the launch of the party in Bloemfontein. It would be a damn shame if COPE remained just plain boring when it counts. And here I mean boring in both senses — the general English one and the ‘black’ one.


Posted on 18 March 2009, in Southern African politics, things that suck and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hi,
    pumlagqola.wordpress.com – da best. Keep it going!

    Thank you

  2. Wandile Kasibe

    Dear Dr. Gqola, it always makes one feel enlightened and sometimes controversial to read and analyze your thoughts as reverberated through your written material. I hope you will find my response to your highly insightful concern, inoffensive and nondestructive to your seemingly hesitant embrace of COPE’s presidential candidate, Mvume Dandala and preference of Terror Lekota. Your skepticism is well placed and carefully articulated and defended, however your soft spot for Terror Lekota and the paradigm through which you have chosen to display your indecisiveness seem to suggest that your indecisiveness is not the case here, but there is something hidden in-between the lines. Though you are still waiting for some “excitement, entertainment, a leader who will tell you how he feels on abortion and lesbian marriages, …someone who keeps our attention”, it seems to me that you have already made your choice, could it be that perhaps you are trying to understand the reason why you made that choice? If you are as indecisive as you make yourself out to be, well according Niccolo Machiavelli your “…indecisiveness is a sign of weakness” and can only be dealt with in what Machiavelli further addresses as “political reality”
    The “reality” is that your friends were probably not far away from “truth” when they conveyed how dodgy one can be and in this case you to like Terror Lekota in the manner that you do. You seem to forget that when Terror was the chairperson of the ANC, he destroyed his own reputation by publicly entrenching Mbeki as some kind of an unquestionable “Prince” or “King” of the ANC. When he was reminded that there are neither “kings”, “Princesses” nor “Queens” in the ANC, but people who have made an individual and collective commitment to serve the masses of our people. He responded to the scrutiny by accusing his opponents of undermining his authority. In so doing Terror reduced himself to basic elements, forgetting that his authority means nothing if he does not pay a close attention to what Machiavelli further observes in his account entitled “The Prince”: “The key [issue in politics] is to act as the times and the mood of peoples require”. What Terror failed to accept was that people were tired of being patronized by his hypocritical approach and blind loyalty to Mbeki, who himself embbarassed us (South Africans) by denying the existence of HIV-AIDS in-front of the International community. One wonders how could a man as brilliant as Mbeki have fallen so hard from “political grace” just by refusing to listen to the basic needs of our people? How could someone of such calibe fail to follow in the footsteps of great man such as tata Nelson Mandela (Son of the Thembus)? How could he even embraced the idea of the third term? Was he really that hungry for power, as William Gumede once revealed in his book: “Battle for the Soul of the ANC”. Look at it quite closely Pumla, where there is Terror, there will always be the Mbeki’s, the Macozoma’s, the Ngcuka’s, the Pahad’s and others who are still in the ANC, but looking for an excuse to abandon the party. What most people have missed to understand is the fact that the ANC has the potency to heal itself, this we have seen on many occassions and I am sanguine that the ANC will do well in the coming elections.
    I shall not comment on your disdain of Nxamalala, because it is clear to me that you will never vote for anything that he (Zuma) represents; namely the ANC and therefore it wont make sense for me to show you that the ANC is still committed to improving the lives of our people. But what I will challenge you on though, is the fact Terror has shown us no new political qualities or growth, but the same old ANC cadre who will always serve those with better political ideas. What I think you need to engage or ask yourself is: who are the real driving forces behind the formulation of COPE? Who is the real mastermind behind COPE?
    In a nutshell, I must also state that COPE and ANC are two “political homes” and as you know that in an political home there will always be prodigal sons and daughters, who will vacillate between their newly established and formerly well established homes and this too is unfortunately the nature of our politics. Pardon me for my grammatical errors…

  3. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  4. Hi !! 😉
    My name is Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that your posts are really interesting
    And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

  5. Hi,
    pumlagqola.wordpress.com – da best. Keep it going!

    Have a nice day

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