OpinionPolitics

Smaller parties: no manifesto, no office, no telephone, but they want your votes

At least one of the 28 parties that will be contesting the general elections next month does not believe in an election manifesto, others have no offices and telephone, but are unwavering.

One of the new entrants to the political space is the South African Congress of Traditional Authorities (SANCOTA).

The leader of the organisation is chief Bhekumizi Mnisi, the first chairperson of Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, and still serves as the executive committee member of the Mpumalanga HTL.

Mnisi has a history of changing political parties, from the ANC to PAC.

The organisation is the brainchild of Themba Sgudla, a friend of deputy president, David Mabuza. At least he has previously claimed that he formed the Practical Radical Economic Transformation together with Mabuza in 2017.

Sgudla has been targeting traditional leaders in Mpumalanga province to join the party, and it appears that his message has been gaining traction from traditional leaders in Nkangala district.

He has denied being in the leadership of the organistion, but the SANCOTA’s registered address at the Electoral Commission of South Africa is Emalahleni, where Sgudla resides.

The organisation’s Siphumelele Sigudla says the organisation does not believe in a manifesto.

“SANCOTA does not do a manifesto because we listen and we do. We believe a manifesto is the will of politicians and not the will of the people,” he said.

At least six of the parties contesting the elections originate from Mpumalanga province.

Leading the pack is the African People’s Convention (APC) formed by former Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) member, Themba Godi who is from Bushbuckridge.

The PAC obtained only one percent of the votes in the historic 1994 general elections. It obtained five seats in the national assembly and nothing in Mpumalanga province.

After PAC president, Motsoko Pheko expelled Godi from the organisation, Godi used the floor crossing system. to set up his organisation, and has been in the political scene ever since.

The system allowed members of parliament, provincial legislatures and local municipality councils to change their political party without losing their seats. It also allowed formation of new parties.

Godi formed his own party and he also retained his position as the chairperson of the parliamentary Select Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) since 2005 to date.

Godi is originally from Bushbuckridge.

Another organisation is the Better Residents Association (formerly Bushbuckridge Residents Association) or BRA as it is commonly known.

The organistion is a breakaway from the African National Congress in the Bushbuckridge area and a brainchild of disgruntled ANC members.

According to some of the BRA leaders, they decided to leave the ANC following the alleged Tsonga faction purge of the Sepulana speaking members of the orgnanisation in Bushbuckridge.

In 2014, BRA surprised many when it obtained a seat in the Mpumalanga provincial legislature from just over 12 000 votes.

BRA’s leader, Delta Mokwena, is conspicuous by his absence from his party’s national and provincial lists.

He is currently serving a ten-year sentence for charges relating to vigilantism.

BRA suffered a blow when deputy president, David Mabuza, lured its only member of the Mpumalanga provincial legislature, Cleopas Maunye, into the ANC.

The organisation accused Mabuza of using state resources to dispense patronage when he appointed Mabuza as his special advisor.

The contact number for BRA is in fact the contact number of the Acornhoek shopping centre management office.

Another party from the province is the Residents Association of South Africa (REAOSA). The founder of the organisation is former ANC leader, Rasheed Matola.

The organisation started contesting elections during the 2016 local government elections and obtained a single seat in the Mbombela local municipality.

It is contesting in the general elections for the first time. It will also contest in Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces.

Sindawonye Progressive Party from the former KwaNdebele Bantustan. It failed when it contested for seats in the provincial legislature during the 2014 elections. It obtained only 4 244 votes.

The party was not available on the phone provided to the IEC. In fact, the message that one gets is that “the number you have dialled doesn’t exist.”

The last party was the Zenzeleni Progressive Movement. The cellphone number provided to the IEC has been unavailable for at least two days.

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