Since the African National Congress(ANC) came to power in the 1990s, it has not enjoyed the presence of any opposition groups, particularly those led by a white woman. Helen Zille who did an outstanding job as mayor of Cape Town and just won the premier position in the province has upset President Zuma and the ANC for charging failure to act against the AIDS/HIV crisis. She gained a 51% majority in the Cape province and took it away from control by the ANC. She has made several provocative comments about the attitude of President Zuma whose famous remark on how to prevent AIDS infection was to take a shower after sexual intercourse. Zille was a thorn in the side of Apartheid leaders and strongly supported the ANC and Nelson Mandela. However, the ANC youth group has accused her of being a racist and a loose woman.
There is no question Helen Zille has a loose cannon for a mouth and will blast away at corruption and stupidity at the drop of a hat. She has blasted drug dealers and wants action to end AIDS/HIV which infects nearly a thousand South Africans each day. A new democracy such as South Africa needs opposing voices, that is the hallmark of democracy.
A tragedy of the fight to end colonialism in Africa was causing those who led the anti-colonial movement to become the dominant power in politics and stifle the free exchange of ideas and power. Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is the most vivid example of the fighter who opposed colonialism only once in power to display all the qualities of what he had opposed. The African National Congress(ANC) has split into two rival groups which means for the first time in South African politics there will be genuine political campaigns, the formation of alliances, compromise, and the emergence of diverse ideas on how to develop the nation. The Congress of the People(COPE) is composed of former ANC members and is now mounting a vigorous political campaign in order to obtain control of the government.
Opponents of COPE charge it seeks to end affirmative action programs, but COPE has responded it wishes to maintain the program but seeks changes to make it more effective. Unless a nation has an opposition party that is meaningful, there is no opportunity to make changes or offer alternatives to those in power. COPE is arguing the current affirmative action program contains evidence of nepotism and cronyism in selecting individuals for positions.
Hopefully, the presence of two parties vying for black votes will encourage coalitions containing parties which contain people of Asian or European backgrounds.