This year’s local government elections have seen an increase in the number of small parties, bringing the number of parties contesting the elections to over 500. Some new parties have been formed, while others are breakaways from existing parties.

The National People’s Front (NAPF), Abantu Batho Congress (ABC), and the African People’s Movement (APEMO) have all broken away from the National Freedom Party. Analysts say the increasing number of political parties increases the chances of coalitions being formed to govern municipalities after the elections.

Some analysts say small political parties play a critical role in the democratic government and in the consolidation of democracy. Some of their manifestos address issues the majority parties overlook.

Other commentators, however, say these parties weaken democracy.

Professor Bheki Mngomezulu from the University of Western Cape says smaller parties weaken the major political parties.

“This mushrooming of small political parties especially on the eve of election does augur well for our democratic consolidation. When they move from their old political parties they usually take a number of people with them and in the process weakens the old political parties. This means we run the risk of having a coalition govt because the party which they came will be weakened to the extent that even if it gets some votes but those votes will not be enough for the party to run either the municipality or the govt alone,” says the Professor Bheki.

Mngomezulu says it is possible that by 2024 neither the majority party nor the official opposition will be strong.

In Gauteng the NAPF will contest elections in Ekurhuleni and the city of Johannesburg. In KwaZulu-Natal, it will contest one municipality in the Uthukela district and all five local municipalities in Zululand district municipality. The leader of the NAPF, Bheki Gumbi, says it is important to keep families intact.

“We are promoting the family unit and we still believe that divorces are caused by the economic situation in the country as males don’t have a space in the government and they are blamed for failing to support their families. But NAPF will treat them equally so they will be no need of separation because it causes street kids.”

APEMO is a newly formed party by the former NFP chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Vikizitha Mlotshwa. The party will contest some wards in Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga, and the Eastern Cape.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the party has candidates in all but the Harry Gwala District. Mlotshwa believes the empowerment of grade 12 learners with skills will promote their independence and chances of getting a job.

“All grade 12 learners will take driver’s licenses in all municipalities that will be led by APEMO. All parties are there but they are not making sure the youth of South Africa especially those who have grade 12 have something in their hands before they go to tertiary institutions,” says Mlotshwa.

The leader of ABC, Philani Mavundla, was a member of the African National Congress (ANC) before he joined the NFP. Mavundla says they aim to have councillors in Limpopo, North West, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, and the whole of KwaZulu-Natal.

Mavundla wants people in townships to be part of the gas industry.

“In the city of Durban alone we will create 500 000 jobs within five years. The South African government has a lot of billions of rand that is allocated for gas subsidisation. So, anyone that buys gas is subsidised. We therefore are saying, we want to introduce gas as renewable energy that is safer and cheaper in the townships, and in that way, gas cylinders need to be manufactured and gas pipeline needs to be installed and every ward will need to have a gas filling station,” says Mavundla.

VIDEO: LGE 2021 – Smaller parties looking to win big