Opposition parties with little representation in the National Assembly have lamented their challenges leading up to the 2019 general elections.

UDM, AIC and COPE say they are faced with budgetary constraints as they plan to get their 2019 election campaigns going.

The parties made the comments on the sidelines at the IEC South Africa elections campaign launch held in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

Amongst the issues raised is the lack of financial resources, political intolerance and lack of media coverage.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) Deputy President, Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, says one of the major problems facing smaller parties is lack of resources.

“The biggest challenge facing a party such as the UDM would have to do with resources. The resources that we have are hopelessly inadequate for the amount of work we have to do and the responsibilities that we have.”

Kwankwa says they, as the UDM, are party to the call to fast-track the Political Party funding bill into law.

“It is for this reason that we have been pinning our hopes on President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign party funding Bill into law, so that resources can be available for parties to be able to discharge their constitutional mandate.”

He says if this is delayed, then democracy will continue to be captured by private interests. The challenge of resources makes it difficult for smaller parties to be visible in provinces where they might not have a strong presence.

Kwankwa says, despite these challenges, the party has had a successful 5th parliamentary term, where they have managed to bring about the secret ballot vote in Parliament.

“Small as we are, we forced the South African Parliament last year to have a secret ballot, when the ANC MPs  were too afraid to vote against (former) President Zuma.”

WATCH UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa below:

On the other hand, African Independent Congress (AIC) Spokesperson, Reverend Mxolisi Koom says budget constraints remain a stifling factor in the growth of small parties in campaigning for elections.

“One of the prominent challenges facing smaller parties is financial marginalisation. The amounts required to contest provinces and locals (municipalities) is exorbitant, to the extent that it defeats the purpose it seeks to achieve. How we wish that there could be a de-commodification of our democracy”

Koom also says mainstream media platforms need to do a better job in covering the smaller parties.

“Our challenge is also the media coverage. You will find that the media also follows the (top) brands in the political sphere. By doing so, they are missing another component of our society. These smaller parties do not come from the sky; they come from the grassroots of the society where there has been a disjuncture the communities themselves and the public representatives that were elected.”

AIC has urged the media to be sensitive to the different political parties contesting for the 2019 national and provincial election.

WATCH AIC’s Mxolisi Koom below:

Meanwhile, Congress Of the People (COPE), President Mosiuoa Lekota says they have had a successful parliamentary term and have managed to influence a number of policy positions.

“There are a number of policy positions we have taken in the face of the political storm that our country has been going through. These policy positions indicate that the people of our country are comfortable with the consistency and the enunciation of the policy positions of our party.”

WATCH COPE’s Mosiuoa Lekota below:

Going forward, the parties are preparing for their election manifesto launch campaigns.

The UDM says it will be holding its manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth, on the 16 of February, and job creation will be the priority in their manifesto.

“The main message will be outlining our job creation strategy.”

The AIC and COPE are, on the other hand, yet to finalise the dates for their manifesto launches.