Philip Copeman

Author and Activist

Anyone familiar with the microeconomic concept of marginal analysis, knows that as you increase a fixed factor, the marginal cost of getting the same output keeps increasing. It is no different in politics.

Keep adding money and eventually the price becomes too high. Has that moment arrived for the poor parties?

It is simple to keep buying votes. You just add money and you get em. All the rich parties do it. They start out with the low lying fruit, those that will convert for a T shirt and Lunch. To get further gets more difficult, and over time the low lying fruit starts to want to climb up the tree. To keep the bottom feeders,  you have to up the rachet, offering first jobs for pals and then houses and cars for pals. With time the pals keep asking for more.

In South Africa, the party with the highest marginal cost of voters is the ANC and they have run out of money. They offer COSATU members a luxury ride in protected and overpaid employment. In doing so they leave millions of others unemployed. And yet even this is not enough to secure unqualified support. The ANC has the highest cost of voter retention.

The DA has the second highest cost. They learned a stinging lesson that they were not prepared to pay enough to secure Agang. What else was it if not for price that the merger failed? The DA were simply not prepared to offer enough secure paid parliamentary seats to Agang members. They have already promised them to the white constituency. The DA have run out of currency.

Finally the chance emerges for smaller parties like the PAC that are not able to compete with cash. We stand before you with nothing more than an idea and a small following of unpaid supporters. On a level playing field, that should be enough to convince you of our sincerity. However 2014 is not a level playing field, we cannot even offer voters a free lunch. As the rich parties now also run out of marginal cash,  we may have entered a period where reason is enough to win the votes of the masses and even the the coming winter will not make them succumb to the lure of a T shirt.

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