The new political parties formed by staunch Jacob Zuma loyalists are anchored on sympathy for the former president, and attempts to weaken the ruling party’s power base – but they also have the allure of a possible five-year parliamentary income and all the associated perks.
The African Transformation Movement (ATM) was yesterday joined by Zuma loyalist Mzwanele Manyi, former owner of the Gupta family’s media empire that included TV station ANN7 and The New Age newspaper – a party with weak prospects in the coming elections, political experts said.
Other equally weak parties include the African Content Movement (ACM,) formed by another Zuma loyalist and former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, as well as Andile Mngxitama’s Black First Land First (BLF).
Their ultimate goal, analysts said, was a seat or two in parliament and – if they are lucky – a fixed parliamentary income.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said not only were the parties extremely late in attempting to garner support for the elections, but they stood no chance of a meaningful role in politics because they had no constituency other than Zuma sympathisers.
Fikeni gave possible reasons for the parties’ existence: “They are formed by those believed to be pro-Zuma to reduce the ANC’s majority. It might be the anger over what they believe to be the purging after their access to influence. It might simply be a more personal reason which no politician have ever confessed to: ‘should I get even one seat, I am effectively employed for the next five years’,” he said.
Fikeni said leaders of these parties also have state capture baggage. Some still have to go through processes that posed reputational damage.
These leaders may have had people who supported them because of their proximity to power – but they will soon find out that the constituencies are not there, Fikeni said.
But existing smaller parties would not be happy with the new parties as they would be seen as coming to fragment an already fragmented base.
“Then you have the other parties that may just believe what they are doing is no more than trying to have multiple voices on pro-Zuma positions,” Fikeni said.
He said chances of these parties becoming kingmakers in provincial legislatures were nil. They might want to align with already established parties.
The University of Pretoria’s Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said it was a common phenomenon before elections that new parties spring up, hopeful of grabbing a seat or two in parliament. He believes, however that their chances of success were low.
“It is the realm of seeking entry into the National Assembly, of imagining themselves as a player in African politics, while we all know that it is very unlikely for that to happen…
“It is true that many of them came as a result of dissatisfaction with the way Zuma was treated by the ANC,” Maluleke said.
He pointed to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture as one of the gripes these people may have with the new administration.
The commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, is investigating allegations of undue influence by the Gupta family on Zuma and state-owned enterprises.
It was set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa, following a probe by former public protector Thuli Madonsela into state capture claims.
Manyi is one of those accused of both facilitating and benefiting from the Guptas’ capture of the state.