Last night I went to my first ACDP branch meeting. I had a couple of preconceived ideas as to what the meeting would be like, but what I found there was not what I expected…
So let me start off by iterating a bit more on the challenges that face the ACDP at the moment. From 1994 until 2004, the ACDP was the fastest growing party in South Africa (some of you did not know that), they were at an all-time high in the 2004 general election. But after that, they fell quite dramatically in voter-share to where they are now. Even though they still have a larger voter-share than in 1994, the current picture is not looking good. I have been in discussion with a lot of people over the years who support the ACDP, but don’t vote for them. When I ask people why they don’t vote for them, the response is always the same: “They don’t do anything” – and in this lies the current challenge for the ACDP.
Now to clarify, the issue is not that the ACDP is not doing anything, in fact they are doing a lot! They are championing the conservative cause in all levels of government. The issue is that the ACDP has failed to communicate to their voters and other conservatives about what they are doing. They have been doing their job diligently, but silently. Unfortunately, the average voter does not do research before voting, he/she simply has a look at what the media and his/her community is saying, formulates an opinion, and vote. This is why the DA nearly consumed the ACDP vote in full, because the DA is “in your face” about what they are doing, and the media is continually writing about them. If you do your research, you will see that the DA is not fighting for conservative values, whereas the ACDP is. But alas, “my people perish for a lack of knowledge”.
So now we finally get back to my first branch meeting. I thought that I will find a group of people, good people, but good people who have stagnated into passivity. Almost like an old, super-conservative church with no youth and no “loud noises”. What I found there, was in fact refreshing. In stead of “old people” who became passive, I saw a group of mature vibrant community leaders. In stead of stagnant passivity, I saw a group of people, working hard to win back the youth of their time, formulating plans to “change and adapt” to be more relevant. In stead of a lack of communication, we were briefed by the provincial secretary general on how the ACDP should change, and how they are changing to bring the message across of what they are doing. I heard of all the people who are joining the ACDP, how the party is growing in members, how the community is responding positively to the ACDP, how they are now reaching out to the media and other communication channels.
After the meeting I was refreshed and inspired. I no longer felt like one person who joined a party to change it, I now felt like one of countless South Africans who heeded the call to stand up for what is good and right. In my previous post, I mentioned that by joining the ACDP, I may be joining a sinking ship. But it seems like the ACDP might just change this sinking ship into a submarine.
Whether the ACDP will once again rise to it’s former greatness of the fastest growing party in South Africa, I do not know. Will the average conservative voter have a change of mind when it comes to placing their vote? Will the “new ACDP” make a large enough impression to regain what they have lost? Who can say? I for one can not put a guarantee on what the future will bring. But I know this:
The ACDP is on the right track, and they are going to make an impact in the 2014 general election either way. If this is their last stand, then it will be glorious. And I for one, will be proud to be a part of it.
So DA, ANC, Agang and all other players in this game, beware and take note: Something is astir in the ACDP!