Soccer Africa

South Africa: Political Football – It’s Either the Road Less Travelled for Mzansi, or Another Own Goal

Political parties are like football clubs and their fans behave similarly, especially in terms of blind loyalty.

‘Look beyond election promises to the concrete solutions on offer.” That’s the headline of a DM168 article from 17 May. It is easy to make promises but harder to deliver on them.

It is also easy for most voters to believe promises will be kept when they are fans of a politician or a political entity. In Africa, we even go as far as buying and wearing shirts that feature our favourite politician’s face, adorned with party colours.

Every time we do this we become mere fans, much like football club fans. It is not unheard of for fans, in both soccer and politics, to embrace hooliganism. There is no political party on our continent that does not boast colours, a nickname, an anthem and songs that mock their main opponents.

Lesotho has more than 50 political parties for a population of about two million. If the Basotho were distributed equally among the parties, each would have 40,000 adherents. The parties then become a government, and almost invariably deliver emptiness. They do, however, take care of their staunchest fans by providing them with lucrative jobs and other benefits. And when you are in such a position and risk losing it,…

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