“Magashule’s new party could change Free State’s political landscape”

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Political analyst Professor Sethulego Matebesi believes the African Congress for Transformation (ACT) could change the political landscape in the Free State in the upcoming general elections.

Matebesi says ACT President, Ace Magashule, has an advantage to secure a seat in the provincial legislature due to his broad, in-depth knowledge of the province.

Election season has officially started, and more than 340 political parties are registered with the Electoral Commission (IEC).

Matebesi believes that it’s going to be difficult for new emerging political parties in the Free State to secure seats in the provincial legislature.

Potential voters question emergence of new parties

Various political parties have already started electioneering across the Free State province, with some launching their manifestos ahead of the upcoming general elections.

Potential voters are seeing new political parties sporadically emerging.

Matebesi says with so many options to choose from, many voters will have a difficult time to choose come election day.

“It’s gonna be a very difficult situation for Free Staters to make a decision, who to vote for…because we have a huge problem of voter turnout. Maybe this is what these new political parties are trying to do, to persuade those voters who are undecided…But when we come to the Free State, the African National Congress has always been very dominant and even new political parties in the past that have tried to disrupt the dominance of the ANC in the past and have not succeeded…but this time around we’re talking a completely different story.”

Some potential voters are sceptical about these new emerging political parties.

One person says, “Are they trying to pay revenge or are they coming up with change? Because they all come from this political party which is holding the whole South Africa which is the main political party.”

Another adds: “Honestly speaking, I don’t really know about them because all of them are branching from different political parties, you know what I mean. So, it’s obvious that they’re bringing the same things from the other parties to these new parties that they’re making. So, I mean it’s like another new branch,” adds another person.

‘ACT stands out in the Free State’

Matebesi believes ACT party stands out in the province among other opposition parties.

“You’ve got somebody who knows the African National Congress in and out leading the opposition party and we’ve seen from the media that he has been garnering support, going around in the Free State and all that. Also very significantly, Ntate Ace Magashule’s party, ACT, having openly pronounced that they’re going to go into a coalition partnership with the MK party which is based in KwaZulu-Natal; that is quite significant, and we may just see that this party may disrupt the African National Congress in the province. But whether they’ll be able to unseat the ANC, that’s a completely different story.”

VIDEO | ACT to work with MK party: 

Potential voters optimistic of change

Other potential voters are optimistic that these new political parties will bring change.

“I think it’s good because I think there’s a lot of different people that have different voices and they all need to be heard.”

Another person says: “I think these new political parties, they say they’re going to make a change but we always see new political parties when it’s time to vote and then they just die out at some point…So, I don’t know but at the same time, there are also some new political parties that are giving me hope because of the people who are in the party; people that I think I might trust.”

Floor crossing

Once the ANC announces its provincial list, it’s predicted that some senior party leaders could cross the floor, says Matebesi.

“Also, what you see is happening within the African National Congress, there’s another key factor that I strongly believe that the moment the Free State announces its provincial list for nominees who will sit at the provincial legislature, we may just see some senior ANC leaders aligning themselves with opposition parties like ACT. For now, the risk is too much…no one will openly align themselves with a party they don’t know what its future is, but once those provincial lists come out, the same is going to happen in KwaZulu-Natal with MK. Then, we might just see senior people joining the reigns of Ntate Ace Magashule and even Jacob Zuma in KwaZulu-Natal.”

As the nation waits for the announcement of the election date, the terms of office for the sixth national assembly and nine provincial legislatures will end in May.

This year the country marks thirty years into democracy and for the first time, independent candidates will also be contesting for seats in the national and provincial legislatures.