A number of parties entered the political fray over the past decade. Some have managed to grow in leaps and bounds, increasing support with every election while others have fallen by the wayside and have lost all their seats in parliament. And then there are those who made a lot of noise, but very little impact at the ballot box.
The Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) poor performance at the 2009 polls led to a breakaway. The National Freedom Party (NFP), led by the former Zululand District mayor, Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi, secured six seats in parliament in 2014.
Following the party’s success at the polls, Msibi resigned as mayor and joined parliament. Former President, Jacob Zuma, appointed her as the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology. In 2016, Msibi suffered a stroke and her party support has since dropped to two seats.
Agang SA, which means to build in Setswana, entered the scene in June 2013 under the leadership of anti-apartheid activist, Mamphela Ramphele. Ramphele said the party was going to offer a better future for all South Africans.
“We are here to begin the restoration of a promise of our great nation and to offer the hope of a better future for every South African. We are here to honour the sacrifices of the struggle and to take inspiration of the achievements of the past.”
A year later, she got into bed with the Democratic Alliance (DA). With much fanfare, Ramphele accepted an invitation to stand as DA presidential candidate in the 2014 national elections.
However, the relationship was short-lived. Ramphele announced that the DA-Agang merger was a mistake. Agang contested on its own and landed two seats in the National Assembly. The party has been on a downward spiral and has lost all its seats in the 2019 elections.
In August 2010, Patricia De Lille merged her Independent Democrats with the DA. Four years later, the relationship was dissolved.
De Lille served as Western Cape DA leader from 2015 to 2017. Relations between her and the DA started to sour in about May 2018. A long and damaging court battle ensued. Aunty Pat left the DA; on her version she resigned and not fired. In December 2018, she yet again formed a political party, this time calling it GOOD Party.
“People ask me why did I start the new GOOD movement. I said because I can, because it’s my right in the constitution; that’s why I started it.”
Her new party’s stronghold is in the Western Cape, drawing support mainly from the coloured community. GOOD managed to get 2 seats in parliament after the 2019 elections. President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed De Lille as the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure.
Of all the new kids on the block, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have been the most successful and vocal. It emerged after Julius Malema was expelled from the African National Congress (ANC).
“Others have responded to the clarion call and gave a definite answer on what is to be done. It is no secret that an absolute majority of those who have responded are saying the EFF should be a radical left and anti-capitalist and anti- imperialist movement with an international outlook that should contest elections in South Africa.”
The EFF managed 6.4% of the vote in the 2014 elections, resulting in 25 seats in parliament. It has since increased its support base and registered the biggest gain of any party in the 2019 national vote. The party, with just over 10% backing held its second elective conference recently, returning Malema to the driving seat.
Malema says the party has now set its sights on branching into Africa.
“The body has proposed that we should form a continental body of the EFF which will be seized with organising EFF in Africa. Let me tell you, the officials agree that that is an important body that will be headed by Godrich Gardee as we continue building the eff on the African continent.”
Following his expulsion from the EFF, Andile Mngxitama formed the Black First Land First movement.
“We’re not here to play; we’re not Mandela, we’re not like Ramaphosa and we’re not like Julius Malema who goes to meet the white man.”
The party failed to make the threshold for a seat in parliament in 2019. As if that was not enough, the movement was de-registered as a political party after the elections. The Electoral Court ruled that it violated the Electoral Act by limiting membership on the basis of race.
In an interesting turn of events, the African Transformation Movement (ATM) was formed in 2018 with the backing of the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ. The party got two seats in the National Assembly. Party leader Vuyolwethu Zungula has vowed that the party will serve the people of South Africa with honesty.
“It is unfortunate that our democracy is not a governance of the people by the people for the people. It is the governance of the people by proxies for the funders because it is the funders of the political parties that are in control. The people that you see in government are not in control, they are proxies; they are told what to do.”
A number of new parties appeared on the 2019 ballot paper. Some, such as African Content Movement (ACM) leader Hlaudi Motsoeneng, boldly claimed they would assume the presidency.
“I’m not contesting to be the opposition; I know the people of South Africa will vote for ACM because they know the president of ACM is a doer. Even in the bible, people did not believe that David would beat Goliath. I am David and Ramaphosa is Goliath. I am going to defeat him.”
It did not quite work out.
Another to depart the scene is the African People’s Convention led by former SCOPA chairperson, Themba Godi. The APC scored just over 19 000 votes, short of the parliamentary threshold.
With a new decade on the horizon, the smaller parties will continue to be in the spotlight. But perhaps more importantly; the governing party, the ANC, will be closely monitored to see if it can hold onto its outright majority.