South Africa goes to the polls on 1 November 2021 for municipal elections. So, what do political parties think about cannabis? We’re going to find out with Africa’s first cannabis political party survey – the same six questions to each party – and let’s see what emerges.
EFF has the clearest line: Legalize It
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has the clearest line: they called for the legalization of cannabis way back in 2013. Julius Malema said in a 2016 interview with eNCA:
“We have no problem with marijuana being legalised. It must be legalised. It must be dealt with professionally so that it is not abused or used for wrong purposes”.
He said he’d smoked cannabis only once when he was 16, and was beaten by his mother for coming home stoned. He was quoted by News24 that he thought alcohol was more dangerous than cannabis.
“I tried [marijuana] once and then after trying I went home to cook, and I messed up everything in the kitchen.”
The EFF leader said his mother came and beat him up.
“The first question she asked: ‘Did you smoke dagga?’. So I thought this thing was too obvious, let me leave it.
“I think alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana.
“I have seen a lot of people smoke it, and read and not have any problems. But I have never seen people drink alcohol and read books afterwards.”
Malema said he saw people who drank alcohol get into cars and cause accidents.
“I have never been told that there is a single accident caused by a dagga smoker. There is no solid reason why it can’t be legalised,” he said.
ANC : Prohibitionists vs Progressives
It’s clear that the ANC supports cannabis reform in broad brushstrokes as it is the governing party that has introduced the National Cannabis Master Plan (NCMP) into the national agenda. Its South African government representative sided with the West against most other African countries at the United Nations in supporting international legalization efforts.
President Cyril Ramaphosa raised the prospect of creating a legal cannabis economy in his 2020 State of the Nation Address, but this year there was no mention of it.
The Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal provincial governments have paid lip service to developing a cannabis market but it’s only the Eastern Cape that has taken reform seriously enough to have its own public hearings. It made a submission to Parliament calling for the legalization of a local cannabis market on the basis of local input.
However, the ANC as a party has taken no public position on cannabis other than welcoming the 2018 Constitutional Court Ruling decriminalizing cannabis. That’s because there are pro- and anti-cannabis factions within the ruling party.
This is going to be the one to watch:
- Prohibitionists like Police Minister Beke Cele hold considerable sway over the party, and with the likes of Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosizana Dlamini Zuma, are opposed to legalization, while
- Progressives like Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Cosatu leader Tony Ehrenreich are calling for a regulated legal adult use market;
DA: Kinda there, but not inhaling
Former Democratic Alliance Leader Mmusi Maimani was in favour of legalization when he was at the helm in 2019, but it’s unclear where the Party stands now. There is no mention of cannabis in the party’s manifesto but the talk of free trade and small business empowerment would suggest it is pro-cannabis reform.
The DA governs the Western Cape, and the provincial investment agency Wesgro is actively encouraging cannabis investment. That shows which way the DA is thinking but, like the ANC, the party itself has no public position on cannabis.
Cannabiz Africa intends digging deeper into the party political mindset and invite parties to clarify their positions through a simple 6-question survey. This will be Africa’s first political party cannabis survey and these are the questions we are asking:
6 Cannabis Questions for South African Political Parties
- What is your party’s position on cannabis?
- Do you think the legalization of cannabis should be an election issue?
- Does your party have a view on the draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill which is currently before the Justice and Correctional Services Parliamentary Portfolio Committee?
- Do you support the legalization of adult-use or “recreational” cannabis and the commercial trade there-in?
- Does your party believe cannabis can play a role in SA’s economic development, and if so, how?
- What is the biggest danger South Africa faces in legalizing cannabis?
As we get the responses we’ll post them and analyse the politics around cannabis and what that means for legalization.
It might also help you make up your mind as to who to vote for!