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General elections: South Africans head towards the biggest event of the year

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The submission of names of members of political parties headed to the National Assembly, National Council of Provinces and the Provincial Legislature across the country signals an important milestone as South African heads towards a sixth democratic general election on May 8th.

It also gives the public an opportunity to scrutinize the lists and check whether their votes will be in capable hands.

The African National Congress (ANC) as the ruling party, has attracted the biggest share of criticism and scrutiny, not only because it is the ruling party but because the 107-year-old movement has been besieged by controversy surrounding violence against women from some of their members, scandals of corruption and the revelations by the Commission of Inquiry into state capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, among many others.

Perhaps it does not come as a big surprise that ANC leaders implicated in the allegations of corruption at the state capture commission of inquiry including Nomvula Mokonyanye, Water and Sanitation minister when the department collapsed, who is accused of taking bribes from Bosasa, Mosebenzi Zwane – of using his position as mineral resources minister to help the Gupta family to buy Optimum Coal and Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba, both of whom have been found to have lied in court. The likes of Thabang Makwetla, Collen Maine and Vincent Smith are also part of the list of members headed to parliament.

Social media was abuzz following the news of several compromised ANC members on their lists. @Lipra_LM quipped:

“So the new dawn consists of the same people since 1994? Which means we going to have these old people circulated until 2024.”

While DA Gauteng Premier candidate Solly Msimanga said:

“The ANC lists is proof that nothing will change. If the ANC is elected to govern again, more corruption, crime, illegal immigration and lack of service delivery. The same people who failed us in the past won’t suddenly move us forward now.”

For the Democratic Alliance (DA) though, the focus often turns into issues relating to the representation, how diverse their lists are and if they present their cardinal pillars which are Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity, and Diversity and also whether there are any surprises. The DA has been having internal discussions on issues including representation and their lists have shown that this discussion is moving on.

Their lists include young people, women and people with disability. Other sections of the society including the LGBTIQ community are also represented in these lists.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane heads the 200-member parliamentary list. It includes the likes of the former head of policy Gwen Ngwenya, who resigned from the position after claiming that the party does not commit enough resources to the development of party policy.

DA Youth (DAY) national leader Luyolo Mpithi also makes it to the national list on number 15. Mphithi has been involved in a number of controversies around some of the campaigns run by the DAY.

The DA has also included former University of Cape Town (UCT) Student Representative Council (SRC) president Karabo Khakhau. The 21-year-old will head to the Free State Provincial Legislature following the May 8th election.

There has been a mixed reaction to the DA’s lists.

Riyaaz Ismail said: “The DA has the most representative lists in terms of candidates ahead of the 2019 provincial and national election and this puts trust in terms of building one South Africa.

Sfiso Tso Ndala pointed out: “The DA’s lists are full of white people as expected, and this is what they are known for. Even when you look at the members of parliament they are mostly white, so no representation.”

The Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF), on the other hand, heads into the coming general election on the 8th of May buoyed by the growing support and popularity of the movement. Following the 2004 elections, EFF has been instrumental in a number of municipalities, but they have vowed to increase their influence and their lists should reflect that fact.

The party prides itself with a lot of young people present their list. This is consistent with what they have been pushing for, young people to occupy positions of influence. The average age of names on their lists is 35 compared to the ANC which is at 66

The EFF list includes the likes of Mamelodi born theatre performer and activist Naledi
Chirwa, who is known for advocacy of women-related struggles in the rural areas of North West. She was also part of a group of young women who staged a silent protest during former President Jacob Zuma’s speech at the IEC during the 2016 local government elections.

Political analyst Justice Malala said: “When you look at this EFF list its full of vibrant, smart, young people. The ANC essentially lost its youth league when the EFF was formed. That’s why its lists are so boringly ancient.”

The president of the EFF Students’ Command Phuthi Keetse from Limpopo, who was instrumental in the #FeesMustFall movement, also makes a feature on the lists.

Perhaps one of the surprises is the inclusion of a singer Ringo Madlingozi who appears at number 39 spot on the National Assembly list. There is a real chance that Madlingozi will be a member of parliament for the EFF should they increase their numbers from the current 25 seats. The question is though: what does Madlingozi bring to the table?

Amara Molokoane, who supports the EFF’s bold stance to take young people to parliament, believes this is a lost opportunity for the ANC.

“I get goose bumps and chills when I look at the EFF list,” she said. “What did we do to deserve this party? This leadership? This inclusion? This representation? This voice? This energy? This kind of involvement? The EFF is a reflection of what the ANC could have been had it not lost itself.

National spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told the media that their lists were balanced.

“The list has a gender balance,”  Ndlozi said, “consistent with the principle of a Zebra approach, on 50/50 representation. It also has a geographic spread and age balance.”

 

Koketso Ramorei

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