Democratic Liberal Congress
Durban-based party founded in 2016 by Patrick Pillay, a former Minority Front councillor who describes himself as having been “tutored, groomed and nurtured politically” by late Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi. The DLC is opposed to land expropriation without compensation, affirmative action and “any type of quotas”. The party is in favour of cutting red tape for business, a new social grant for widows and austerity measures for all spheres of government.
Economic Emancipation Forum
Established in 2013, but formally launched as a political party in 2017, EcoForum favours the hashtag “#SABackToGod”. Its leader, BJ Langa — whose preferred titles are “Apostle” and “Confidante” — claims he was “born to be King”. EcoForum wants to lead a national “moral regeneration” — where have we heard that before? — and calls for greater state assistance for black-owned businesses, support for Israel and the decolonisation of the justice system. The party has lobbied hard for the financial rights of pensioners in the former Bophuthatswana homeland.
Economic Freedom Fighters
The EFF is South Africa’s second-largest opposition party, after the DA. Launched by Julius Malema in 2013, the party went on to win just over 6% of the vote nationally in 2014.
Forum 4 Service Delivery
The F4SD distinguishes itself from the crowd through its overtly xenophobic policies, calling for all foreign nationals to leave the country immediately and not come back for 10 years. Founded in 2015 by president Mbahare Kekana, the F4SD wants South Africans to see “any qualification less than PhD as a non-achievement”. They aim to scrap provinces, distribute expropriated land directly to the people without involving the state, and issue R200,000 vouchers to “deserving” citizens to build houses to their own designs.
The Free Democrats is predominantly a single-issue political party, and that issue is health care. The party is against the government’s proposed National Health Insurance and believes that all South Africans should be eligible for private health care away from state hospitals. In its vision, each citizen would have a medical aid “administered by the medical aid industry” and funded by a payroll deduction. Though this party sounds like something dreamed up at a boozy dinner by medical aid bosses, it is ostensibly led by Cape Town-based neurologist Dr Johan Reid, who was previously accused of sexual harassment and found guilty of seven counts of unprofessional conduct by the Health Professions Council.
Front Nasionaal/Front National
They’re back! Despite taking a drubbing in the 2014 elections — winning just over 5,000 votes — the right-wing FN is returning to contest 2019’s polls. Prominent Afrikaner activist Dan Roodt appears to have exited the leadership team, with Daniel Lotter now at the helm. The FN wants a separate Afrikaner homeland and the implementation of Christian-nationalist principles. The party was responsible for a 2017 boycott of Spur restaurants after the steakhouse chain banned a white man for behaving aggressively towards a black woman. The boycott reportedly cost Spur millions, suggesting either that Afrikaner separatists are disproportionately fond of surf ’n turf or that FN’s support base is larger now than previously was the case.
The Good Party is former Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille’s latest political home after her public divorce from the DA. For the purposes of Good campaigning, De Lille is now officially the chummy “Aunty Pat”. Other high-profile party leaders include former DA councillor Brett Herron and singer Alistair Izobell. Good is opposed to amending the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation, but big on tackling spatial apartheid in South African cities. It is one of the only parties contesting the 2019 elections to make environmental issues, and climate change, a key policy pillar.
Independent Civic Organisation Of South Africa
Drive through the dorpies of the rural Western Cape and you’ll count as many Icosa posters as you will of the larger parties. Founded in 2006 by former ANC politician Truman Prince, Icosa brands itself mainly as a political home for “coloured” South Africans. It won just over 14,000 votes nationally in 2014. The party had a taste of political power in the Kannaland municipality in the Karoo, which the DA said in 2016 had left the municipality more than R37-million in debt and on the verge of collapse in terms of the supply of water and electricity.
Inkatha Freedom Party
It’s easy to forget what a behemoth the IFP used to be on the local political scene. As of the 2014 elections it was still the fourth-largest party nationally, but reduced to less than half a million votes. Leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, age 90, is set to step down after the 2019 elections, but is one of just two politicians whose face will have appeared on every national ballot sheet since 1994. (The other is ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe.) The IFP wants a debate on the death penalty, an end to e-tolls and subsidised public transport for job-seekers. Though Buthelezi is long overdue his pension, the party has had two of the most dynamic young MPs in the fifth Parliament: Liezl van der Merwe and Mkhuleko Hlengwa.
International Revelation Congress
The Limpopo-based IRC was founded in 2013 by Thinawanga Mammba, but is contesting elections nationally for the first time in 2019. Despite a name reminiscent of an evangelical church, the word “God” appears only twice in its 31-page manifesto. The IRC is socially conservative — it supports the right to discipline children and is against same-sex marriage — and wants to harness the expertise of retired professionals from the former homelands to run government systems. It endorses community-level schemes of economic upliftment and wants to replace BEE with economic empowerment based on poverty rather than race.
The Land Party was formed in February 2019 by the organisers of 2018 protests in the township of Zwelihle, outside Hermanus in the Western Cape. Leader Gcobani Ndzongana, formerly of the EFF, is a charismatic figure with a knack for galvanising the youth. The party states that it borrows its positions from the best of socialism, communism and capitalism with a particular nod to China when it comes to economic policies. The ideological balance seems tilted in the direction of capitalism. Again, the party’s manifesto contradicts its name: It actually wants to strengthen private property rights, along with abolishing exchange control regulations, minimum wage and BEE. Quirky touches include the suggestion that police stations be built out of glass, because “the people must SEE that the police is working”.
Minority Front founder Amichand Rajbansi was a larger-than-life figure on the South African political scene, known as the “Bengal Tiger”. Rajbansi is sadly no more, but his shadow hangs heavily over the MF, which has lobbied to change the name of all manner of infrastructure around Durban to honour him. In 2014 the party won just over 22,000 votes, too few for a single MP, but in 2019 aims to restore the “Indian voice” to the seat of legislative power. It wants affirmative action to change to benefit minority racial groups and is opposed to land expropriation without compensation.
National Freedom Party
The National Freedom Party is easily one of the more mysterious South African political parties, because for some time it has been unclear who’s running it. Its ostensible president is Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, one of just three female party leaders in the country. But kaMagwaza-Msibi has been virtually invisible in public since falling ill in 2014, despite still holding the title of Deputy Minister of Science and Technology. The NFP was founded as a breakaway faction of the IFP and performed relatively strongly in the 2014 elections, winning six parliamentary seats. Since then, kaMagwaza-Msibi’s ill health and internal fighting have weakened the party. Its 2019 manifesto has not been published on its website. Unusually for this climate, however, the NFP has come out strongly against xenophobia.
National Peoples Ambassadors
The NPA — not to be confused with the National Prosecuting Authority — calls itself a “radical, left, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement with an internationalist outlook”, formed in 2015. Its principles are EFF-lite: Like the Fighters, it wants nationalisation of banks and mines, but its rhetoric is more embracing, including the dictum that “the land belongs to everyone who lives in it”. The party would probably be unimpressed with the EFF comparison — in 2016 its general secretary Andile Hlatshwayo lay charges of high treason against Julius Malema, on the grounds that Malema’s parliamentary behaviour was in conflict with the spirit of Ubuntu.
National People’s Front
The NAPF has swopped around the initials of rival party the National Freedom Party (NFP) in what some might suspect is a sneaky attempt to win some of its rival’s votes. After all, party leader Bheki Gumbi founded the NAPF after leaving the NFP — where he served as national deputy chairperson — in 2018. They are running on a platform of stronger border controls and “first priority” for South Africans over foreign nationals, and have promised to “fast forward” land expropriation if voted into power. The party’s Twitter account announced in March 2019: “Africa will unite the day we abolish the Roman laws”.
Pan Africanist Congress Of Azania
The PAC is one of the granddaddy political parties contesting the 2019 polls, having been formed in 1959 by a group led by Robert Sobukwe. The PAC was pushing for land redistribution before the EFF Fighters were in nappies, but like a number of other older parties, its influence has declined considerably in recent years. In 2014 it won just one seat in Parliament. The party has taken in-fighting to new levels: its current president is either Narius Moloto or Mzwanele Nyontsho, depending which faction you talk to, and its sole MP — former party leader Luthando Mbinda — was the subject of an attempted ejection from Parliament by his own party, via the courts. Moloto seems to be on top of the internal power struggle for now, and says his party is on track for at least 50 parliamentary seats after the May elections.
Ex-con-turned-businessman-and-self-help-writer Gayton McKenzie is the man behind the Patriotic Alliance, formed in 2013. In 2014 the party won just over 13,000 votes nationally, but despite that poor showing has since played a prominent role in the politics of Nelson Mandela Bay, flip-flopping between the EFF and the DA over the ousting of former mayor Athol Trollip. Although it campaigned hard to win “coloured” votes in previous elections — making its appeal to this demographic with the “too black under apartheid, too white under the ANC” line — it has said that the party is open to voters of all races. The PA does not seem to have published its 2019 manifesto online yet.
People’s Revolutionary Movement
Launched in 2016 in KwaZulu-Natal, the PRM is led by president Nhlanhla Buthelezi — who has previously used his Twitter account to describe the EFF’s Julius Malema as “a whites’ surrogate” and the EFF as a “white-formed party”. The PRM has received most of its media attention thus far as a result of its vocal homophobia: It has denounced “those who promote Sodom and Gomorrah in the land of our kings and queens”. It is also against abortion, prostitution, and foreign nationals. When it comes to the latter group its policies are quite detailed, including penalising landlords who let premises to foreign nationals over South Africans. It wants poor South Africans charged a maximum of R100 a month for electricity and water, and rich South Africans taxed more punitively.
Power Of Africans Unity
The Power of Africans Unity party has been around since 2016, with former UDM member Julius Nsingwane as its president. Nsingwane has been known to wear T-shirts featuring his own face, but insists PAU is not a “one-man party”. Exactly what it is, however, is hard to say — the party’s website is down, its Facebook account has not been updated for a year and there is little trace of any other online presence. We do know that the PAU joined demonstrations calling for the removal of former president Jacob Zuma, and that its logo features a slightly ominous eagle (not that the Daily Maverick is one to throw stones in that regard).
Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party
The SRWP is the political party arm of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa). Although it hoped to win the support of the workers, it was almost immediately dealt a blow in 2018 when Zwelinzima Vavi’s South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said the federation would not support the party. As you would expect from a union-backed party, the SRWP champions socialism, opposes privatisation, and says that the ANC and DA’s support for the unbundling of Eskom amounts to both parties “plotting slavery wages”. Its approach to the 2019 elections is somewhat conflicted: The SRWP is against the “bourgeois electoral system” on principle, but will participate in order to meet the “strategic and revolutionary objectives” of the party.
South African Maintenance And Estate Beneficiaries Association
Sameba, led by president Makgorometse Gift Makhaba, contested the 2014 national elections as well, but appears to have won so few votes that it is not listed in the official IEC results for that year. It recently (unsuccessfully) contested a by-election in Limpopo, but that’s about as much as we can tell you. Fun fact: Sameba is also the name of one of the most significant cathedrals in Tbilisi, Georgia.
South African National Congress Of Traditional Authorities
Sancota launched in February 2019 on a platform of traditional African values and protecting the power of traditional leaders. The man behind the party is reportedly Themba Sigudla, a former ally of Deputy President David Mabuza before things turned sour between the two men. The party’s president is Chief Mantjolo Mnisi, and Sancota has been busy trying to attract other traditional leaders — including expressing support for the release from prison of abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo. City Press reported in February that the party had already drawn the defections of at least 18 ANC councillors.
United Democratic Movement
Bantu Holomisa’s UDM fared slightly better in the 2014 national elections than it had in 2009, but the overall trajectory for the party has not been positive — except in the Eastern Cape, which has always been Holomisa’s power base. With four seats in the National Assembly, Holomisa remains by far the most prominent UDM figure, though in the fifth Parliament his protégé Nqabayomzi Kwankwa has won some approving attention. The UDM remains a non-racial centre-left party; it voted in favour of expropriation without compensation, but stresses in its manifesto that it “certainly did not vote for free-for-all land grabs and evictions”. The UDM’s coalition with the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay dissolved into chaos in 2018 amid a dispute over alleged impropriety by UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani, causing public mudslinging between Holomisa and DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
Vryheidsfront Plus/Freedom Front Plus
The FF+ dates back to 1994 and is led by Pieter Groenewald. It is the only South African party to field a parliamentary caucus consisting entirely of white men, in the form of its four MPs. But of late the FF+ has started to branch out, now touting itself as a party not just for Afrikaner separatists but for other minority groups in South Africa. Its selection of Peter Marais as the party’s Western Cape Premier was a clear sign that the FF+ hopes to attract “coloured” voters in the province, where it has been busily campaigning in rural areas. It continues to lobby hard for the protection of Afrikaans, farmers and gun-owners and has been outspoken in its opposition to land expropriation without compensation.
WF started as an activist movement in 2007, and has Struggle royalty behind it in the form of its president, former government employee and gender activist Nana Ngobese-Nxumalo, granddaughter of Albert Luthuli. The party has previously said that its strongest support is in Limpopo, due to its focus on rural development and female unemployment. It contested the elections in 2009, but won only about 5,000 votes. On this occasion, it is aiming for a modest two parliamentary seats. WF wants to see more women at the highest political levels and points out there has never been a female finance minister or auditor-general. Ngobese-Nxumalo recently called for the castration of rapists — if an execution is not an option. DM
Part One of the Daily Maverick guide to the parties on the 2019 ballot sheet is available here.
"No idea is above scrutiny and no people are beneath dignity." ~ Maajid Nawaz