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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


Small political parties must make more noise

Not enough people are aware of the numerous minority parties, there is more confusion and fewer options for voters.


In this political chess manoeuvering prior to 2024, with voter apathy among young people, the lack of visibility and people’s knowledge of minority parties is a concern.

It has been said that next year’s elections will be a turning point and watershed moment, with many of South Africa’s political parties looking to unseat the ruling ANC.

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In the 2019 elections, there were about 400 political parties registered with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), but only 14 made it to parliament.

This shows there are already so many parties that it’s difficult for people to decide who to vote for.

But as not enough people are aware of these minority parties, there is more confusion and fewer options for voters.

That’s when you’ll find people going for the “better the devil you know” option. This week, the Multi-Party Charter met civil society organisations to try and write a blueprint for the future of South Africa.

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Parties included the Democratic Alliance (DA), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Freedom Front Plus (FF+), ActionSA, Independent SA National Civic Organisation, United Independent Movement, Spectrum National Party, and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).

The biggest parties in the charter are the DA, IFP, FF+ and the ACDP. The rest are minorities.

When I asked my peers what they think of the Multi-Party Charter, many had no idea what I was talking about. When I asked if they could at least name five minority parties, they couldn’t.

One said she felt they are either silent, not doing enough to put themselves out there, or were not campaigning enough. Others said they felt the parties were mostly visible around the places where people trust them and choose to not visit some locations where the “big parties” are more popular.

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But, perhaps if they tried campaigning around the places they feel less comfortable, they could win the hearts of voters. Minority parties should focus on mobilising, especially in township communities.

Although, to be fair, I do understand the issue of the lack of funding and resources also plays a huge role and may ultimately be their downfall. This is why they then choose to be aligned with the big parties.

When they are given a chance to go to council or parliament, they seem to ride on the backs of the bigger political parties in coalitions.

So, they do not get the opportunity to push their own mandates and agendas. It is a sad reality.

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I believe it would be great to see them given a chance – but how, when many South Africans do not even know them?

My father said most minority parties who are in coalition with big parties are not relevant to service delivery and their trump card is to complain about the failures of parties running certain metros and municipalities, instead of convincing the ordinary citizens what changes or improvements they will deliver.

Also, some advice to the Multi-Party Charter: I do not think their main focus ahead of elections should be getting rid of the ANC. That is what all the political opponents of the ANC are preaching. People want to know who these parties are and what they can do for society.

Potential voters do not care about their personal agendas with the ANC. That will not be enough for them to woo people – especially the young, who are disgruntled and faced with a lack of positivity everywhere.

On the other hand, the MPC’s plan to work with civil society organisations is quite a solid move.

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