Over the past few months we have witnessed the launch of new political parties that claim to offer South Africans a chance to break with the past and take up a new start. The problem is it not clear what that new start entails, as those parties have not presented the electorate with clear policies or ideological stance.
The socio-economic issues faced by our country are well documented and the African National Congress (ANC) with over 24 years of governing experience still does not show signs of adequately addressing those issues. Are the socio-economic issues we face merely a case of inefficiency by the ruling party, hence the parties springing up promise to implement the ruling party’s policies better than the ruling party, instead of presenting us with new policies or different ideologies.
Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng launched the African Content Movement (ACM) with the promise that he will implement the ANC’s Resolutions better than the ruling party itself, as he is a man of action. We all know what is happening at the SABC currently as a result of his action-oriented style, however that is a story for another day. At the launch of the ACM, Mr Motsoeneng said the party would focus on poverty, land, unemployment and education among other issues.
Ms Patricia de Lille launched her Good Party after leaving the DA and in her words, her new party represents a “rallying call to GOOD South Africans to resuscitate the project of optimism and reconciliation”. It is worth noting as she has stated that the identity, ideology and political strategy of her new party is a work in progress. So, a new political party without ideology or strategy, HMMM!
Mr Mzwanele Manyi officially divorced the ANC and joined the African Transformation Movement (ATM) as the Head of Policy. His reasons for leaving the ANC include that it has reached its saturation point and is not serious about pursuing radical economic transformation and he joined the ATM as it represents a much-needed “breath of fresh air” in South African politics. We do not know as yet how they will achieve their mandate.
Back in 2014, Hellen Zille argued that having a lot of opposition parties only served to strengthen the ANC, as they will fight for votes amongst each other. She used that argument to win Dr Mamphela Rampela over, which resulted in the ultimate demise of Agang. Although the Democratic Alliance (DA) saw an increase in people voting for it, I doubt it was due to them eliminating another opposition party, which they might have perceived as a potential competitor. It could have been a simple matter of them benefitting from the decline of Congress of the People, which performed badly in the 2014 elections.
The Economic Freedom Fighters demonstrated it is possible to target historically ANC voters with some success. Although the success was less than what was anticipated in 2014, it carried that momentum to the 2016 Local government elections, where it grew its voter base and assisted in taking the governance of key Metropolitans away from the ruling party. The strategy of the EFF going into this year’s General Elections is targeting young voters, especially those who will be voting for the first time.
For obvious reasons all parties are targeting young voters, however those young voters have demonstrated that they will not be swayed only by emotions and historical ties. Instead they are preoccupied with real programmes that will seek to address the various socio-economic issues they are grappling with today such as rampant unemployment and access to quality education.
Thus far these newly formed parties have not provided tangible solutions to the socio-economic issues we face as a country, so there is no need for them to still offer us a diagnosis, as we are all aware of them and living with them on a daily basis. They must not hope against hope that voters are so fed up with the ANC and disillusioned with the EFF and DA to offer their vote to them.