Christian-based parties vying for political space

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Some Christian-based formations vying for elections say their rise into political space is not only informed by lack morality and integrity in the political arena.

Instead, it is an undying need to champion the fight against economic inequality as well as creating conducive environment for development.

The CPM, ACDP and ATM believe that now is the time to introduce new ideas and solutions that will take the country to greater heights.

The promise of a better life for all is the underlying message in the manifestos of the parties contesting the election, but some of these parties were born in the church and see themselves as an alternative voice to achieve this promise.

Political Analyst, Dr Luyolo Dondolo, says that there is a long history between politics and religion.

“There is a long history between politics and religion. If you remember during the apartheid years, there were religious organisations that were formed, especially in the 1980s, you see. The likes of Desmond Tutu, Frank Chikane and Allan Boesak … they were at the forefront of the struggle and they used their position to challenge the status quo.”

ATM Eastern Cape Campaign Spokesperson, Zama Ntshona says it’s time that religious institutions get involved.

“It is important then that we get our hands dirty as religious institutions; roll up ourselves and be part of a conversation in creating a suitable environment for the beneficiation of the masses. So, in us taking this particular route, it is to speak on those challenges that find within our society which are challenges of exclusion, and when we say decolonise the economy, we are talking about the creation of a suitable environment for growth.”

The new parties, like the CPM, also believe they will receive significant support.

CPM leader Brian Lonwabo Mahlathi says that they will not be an opposition party.

“We are not going to be opposition party even to the ANC. We believe that ANC did what (it) should do. We are this political movement that is looking at taking people of South Africa into the promised land; into the dream of the people that started the revolution in terms of setting people of South Africa free from Apartheid regime.”

However, the increase in Christian faith-based parties is not well received by one of their own, The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).

ACDP Provincial leader, Luke Quse, says that the formation of these parties is splitting the Christian vote.

“It’s not a positive development because its splitting the same Christian votes, but if political parties can come behind a party that has been there, a party that has a track record and support ACDP for a united vision.”

Is there a future for the newly-formed faith-based parties in the country’s political landscape?

Dondolo says that most of the parties are competing among themselves and won’t survive.

“Most of them are competing among themselves. Most of them won’t survive. They will appear before elections and after that they are nowhere to be seen. I think they need to have a common umbrella and be a united force and perhaps, they will be able to garner support. But the way things are, their support is not sustainable; even their existence is not sustainable.”

Some of the Christian formations have expressed willingness to work with like-minded parties after the elections.