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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


Multi-party charter: 8 parties meet civil society for first time

The eight parties held an engagement with civil society with the aim to write a new blueprint for the future of SA.


While it remains to be seen if the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa (MPC) will convince South Africans to vote for its various parties in 2024 general election – there is concern that not everyone knows about it. In an aim to write a new blueprint for the future of SA, the eight parties yesterday held an engagement with civil society at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg. ALSO READ: Broke ANC faces poll ban as creditor owed R102m threatens to send in the sheriff It was the MPC’s first such engagement since 17 July, when…

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While it remains to be seen if the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa (MPC) will convince South Africans to vote for its various parties in 2024 general election – there is concern that not everyone knows about it.

In an aim to write a new blueprint for the future of SA, the eight parties yesterday held an engagement with civil society at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg.

ALSO READ: Broke ANC faces poll ban as creditor owed R102m threatens to send in the sheriff

It was the MPC’s first such engagement since 17 July, when the pre-election agreement was signed between the Democratic Alliance (DA), Inkatha Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus (FF+), ActionSA, Independent SA National Civic Organisation, United Independent Movement, Spectrum National Party, and African Christian Democratic Party.

National Community Dialogues Founder Leonard Ncumbese said the MPC – dubbed the moonshot pact – needed to do more work with people on the ground as many did not know about it.

“We invited the MPC. We sent e-mails informing them we are a national community dialogues and not a political party,” he said.

ALSO READ: ‘We are watching you’: Malema warns Free State members planning to join Magashule’s party

“We have members from their political parties as our members, and told them we are going to have the event in December, and are inviting them to explain to the people what MPC is but they never responded.”

North-West University political analyst Prof André Duvenhage said the concept of coalitions was relatively new to SA. He said the bonds in the MPC were not too strong and they needed to create a common ground and culture.

“If you look at European states, sometimes with established traditions of coalition, sometimes after an election, it takes them months to get a coalition going.

Think bigger

“So, our culture is not very strong in this regard and you need to think bigger than your party alone, which is the challenge. It is also difficult to keep smaller groups involved in the process, accommodate them and these are difficult challenges.”

Duvenhage said MPC’s engagement with civil society was crucial as it brings huge contributions in terms of creating a free and fair election. “They have their own challenges and are concerned about many situations. “I think their engagement and involvement in the mobilisation of support is critical.

“We have a low voter turnout, low levels of registration and high levels of apathy.” Political analyst Goodenough Mashego said there were doubts the MPC was intended to truly benefit everyone involved.

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He said there were those who had their own aims to make sure secured their own interest.

“For example, we know the DA and some of the parties in that engagement do not see eye to eye on issues like black economic empowerment, affirmative action on how to transform the economy. How will this all work on other issues?”

DA leader John Steenhuisen told delegates next year’s election would be a hinge of history in the effort to achieve reforms. He said the MPC had set aside political differences.

“We may not agree on everything but we agree that we need to save our country. It would be arrogant for a single party to say we have all the answers for the problems of SA.”

ALSO READ: ‘Gatvol’ branches turn back on ANC

FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald said the real power was with the voters. Research director of the Brenthurst Foundation, Ray Hartley, said the MPC engaging with civil society groups presented a real political challenge to the ANC.

He said it was interesting, especially since the MPC had not done much in the public sphere to promote itself on its platform.

“That actually can inspire a lot of people to participate in politics and maybe change their votes.” Hartley said the biggest problems facing SA were unemployment, corruption, load shedding and crime.

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