‘Going into politics not for personal gain,’ says Operation Dudula ahead of 2024 elections
Operation Dudula leaders say the organisation is aware of the challenges of becoming a political party.
Operation Dudula marches in Orange Grove, Johannesburg on 13 February 2022. Picture: Michel Bega
Lobby group Operation Dudula has signalled its intention to contest next year’s national and provincial elections.
The organisation held a conference on Sunday at the Johannesburg City Hall, where a resolution was taken by members for Operation Dudula to register as a political party with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) ahead of the 2024 elections.
‘Benefit outweighs the risk’
Addressing the media on Tuesday, the leader of Operation Dudula’s advisory board, Isaac Lesole, said while the main event was in Johannesburg, members also convened in other provinces to discuss the next steps for the organisation.
Lesole said the Operation Dudula acknowledged the criticism for its views on immigrants in South Africa, in particular, when President Cyril Ramaphosa labelled the organisation as “vigilantes“.
“The 7th May consultative conference concluded that Operation Dudula was under siege and must fight back so that it does not lose the platform to raise issues around illegal foreigners,” he said.
“As an attempt to empower Operation Dudula to deal with these challenges, an overwhelming majority of participants and delegates from Gauteng, Western Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, KZN [KwaZulu-Natal] and Limpopo resolved that the NEC [national executive committee] should dissolve the current NPC [non-profit company] or civic movement as it stands today and register as a political party.”
The organisation has, however, noted that it does not have the resources, operational and financial capabilities to contest elections.
“Most importantly, the consultative conference concluded that the NEC should augment itself with representatives from other provinces. While the benefit outweighs the risk, the conference registered a strong concern in converting community activists into politicians. However, the NEC is mandated to develop a mitigation plan and this will be announced soon.”
Lesole said it was undisputed, in the view of Operation Dudula, that majority of South Africans were “troubled by migrants who consciously elect to come stay in our country illegally”.
“Between now and the 2024 elections, Operation Dudula’s campaign will focus on creating jobs, reclaiming RDP houses and spaza shops to the benefit of South Africans.”
Watch the press conference below:
Lesole also said the organisation would develop a manifesto which would address further policies.
“We have got the legal team in the house here that’s basically going to help us with that process. WE have not registered yet, but we are definitely starting the process.”
On coalitions, Lesole said: “We are not a political party yet…. we are going to the elections with an intention to win so we don’t want any coalitions or anything else at this point in time until the numbers tell us otherwise, but for now we want to have a president coming from Operation Dudula.”
Operation Dudula’s secretary-general, Zandile Dabula, said the organisation decided to transition into a political party as opposed to contesting elections as an independent candidate because they “work as a collective”.
“I know how South Africans feel about politicians and believe me we share the very same sentiment, but I would like to assure South Africa is that we will not be [like the current] politicians. Our strive is to make sure that we are here for South Africans and not for a own personal gain,” Dabula said.
Meanwhile, Operation Dudula’s deputy chairperson, Dan Radebe, indicated that the organisation has been self-funded by its members along with some small contributions from the public.
“The commitment and frustration of South Africans assisted and funded Operation Dudula. Members of Operation Dudula also been funding [the movement] themselves and we strongly believe that moving forward, this can still happen. We are not going to be desperate and go to people’s doors asking for funding.”