South Africa


Let the public choose: Action SA’s Mashaba launches system allowing voters to appoint mayoral candidates

Let the public choose: Action SA’s Mashaba launches system allowing voters to appoint mayoral candidates
Herman Mashaba (pictured) launched Action SA in 2020 after resigning as mayor of Johannesburg and from the DA in 2019. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali)

Herman Mashaba’s Action SA will compete in its first elections on 27 October and registered voters have the chance to appoint the party’s mayoral candidates. The unprecedented election within an election could help the party mobilise support and test candidates ahead of the decisive vote.

While considering whether to run as Action SA’s Johannesburg mayoral candidate, Lincoln Machaba called party leader Herman Mashaba, the city’s former mayor who is also running for the post. Mashaba encouraged him to join the race, describing it as direct democracy in action.

“I’m here to beat him,” said the 30-year-old Machaba on Tuesday.

He was speaking in Sandton alongside other Action SA members vying to become the party’s mayoral candidates in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni in the October 27 local government elections.

The party was launching its candidate election system, which allows registered voters to decide its mayoral candidates. Mashaba launched the party in 2020 after resigning as mayor of Johannesburg and from the DA in 2019.

Action SA chairperson Michael Beaumont described the system as an unprecedented example of direct democracy that will make candidates accountable to their communities rather than their party.

Beaumont said over 120,000 registered voters have signed up to vote in the party’s primaries. While Action SA is competing in multiple municipalities across the country, the system is only being implemented in the Gauteng metros before it’s rolled out for all candidates ahead of the 2024 elections.

Registered voters, who don’t have to be party members, can register on Action SA’s website and elect the candidate of their choice in their municipality.

Candidates in Johannesburg were shortlisted after garnering 500 endorsements and meeting certain ethical requirements, such as having no criminal record or municipal debt.

Voting will be open virtually between 21 June and 28 June and the party will open physical voting centres on 27 June. Action SA has signed up former IEC deputy chairperson Terry Tselane’s Institute of Election Management Services to audit the results and ensure they are credible.

Beaumont said Action SA would also hold midterm elections during its candidates’ stints in city councils and replace members who the electorate decides are not performing.

Shortlisted candidates in the three Gauteng metros delivered stump speeches at the launch on Tuesday. Some were unknown members of their community who decided to take their shot at leadership while others, such as Mashaba and former acting Tshwane mayor Abel Tau, had joined Action SA after leaving the DA.

Some of the speeches were brief and unscripted while others were more polished. Speakers vowed to confront corruption, improve service delivery, boost employment and tackle migration issues, a hot button topic for the party, with critics calling Mashaba xenophobic and populist.

Mashaba is up against two candidates in Johannesburg, both former DA members.

Machaba, who has a law degree from Wits and served as a DA councillor in Johannesburg throughout 2020, said he loved the city and needed to find a way to make it work. He committed to prioritising finance, economic development, the environment and infrastructure and transport.

Fifty-nine-year-old Suraya Holt grew up in Evaton, Kliptown and Eldorado Park and was a DA councillor in Free State’s Metsimaholo Local Municipality and Fezile Dabi District before leaving the party in 2015. She spoke of uniting residents to overcome the ANC’s failures.

“I’m not intimidated. I think it’s time for women leadership. Most men have failed and I know we can do it,” she said of running against Mashaba, who has a significant public profile.

Mashaba said he has unfinished business in Johannesburg. He said he left the City with a R170-billion infrastructure backlog and in need of 300,000 houses. He mentioned inner-city rejuvenation and affordable accommodation plans he championed with the private sector, which he claimed have been abandoned under the ANC.

Mashaba founded Action SA with Beaumont and he will most likely become its Johannesburg mayoral candidate. When asked whether he will serve as a councillor under another member if he doesn’t win the party primary, Mashaba said, “As long as ANC is in government, I will remain a public servant”.

But the party is looking for gains from its candidate election system beyond whose face will end up on campaign posters.

Beaumont, who led Mashaba’s 2016 campaign for the DA, challenged other parties to implement the same level of transparency and accountability in their candidate nomination processes.

The party’s system has the added benefit of engaging registered voters early, both through the endorsements candidates require and the public voting process.

The system also gives relatively untested members, such as Machaba, the chance to prove themselves in an election campaign within an election campaign and highlight potential future leaders.

In the lead up to 27 October, Mashaba and his party have regularly been on the ground attempting to engage communities, recruit new members and take active roles on issues such as the Hammanskraal water crisis and the retrieval of the bodies of the three workers who died at Lily Mine.

Action SA remains an unknown factor in the upcoming elections. While the party, like all parties, says it’s competing to win, it has more realistic chances of becoming a significant player in coalition negotiations, something in which Mashaba has experience.

The EFF took 30 seats in Johannesburg in 2016, the first municipal elections in which it competed. If Action SA can take between 20 to 30 seats in its first test in the City, it will have a significant voice in deciding the metro’s next leader and the direction of its policy. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Coen Gous says:

    Way to go Herman, give those larger parties in front of you hell, especially in Gauteng. And hurt Makhura as much as you can. By giving voters a direct say in appointing majoral candidates, you might just change the face of politics in this country, a badly needed change

  • Coen Gous says:

    If I was based in Gauteng, I most certainly would have voted for you in person, but if not you, for the party at least. My municipality, Langeberg, in a rural area of the Western Cape is running well under a DA administration. But I spend a lot of time in the Saldanha Bay Municipality, also currently under the DA. And in this municipality service delivery is not a patch to what it is in Langeberg. The Major Koen, is under severe pressure from opponents, and I suspect this Municipality will change hands come the October elections. Unfortunately, it it unlikely that any other party will be a improvement.

  • Ashley Stone says:

    I love this! People get the Government they deserve…so vote!
    Let us choose our leaders-you deliver, we love you, you don’t, you are out!
    Currently we just have to sit back and watch the rot. There is no accountability or any reason for a “leader” to deliver-there is no risk to this leader, so why make the effort? We need good Corporate style discipline in Government. No shareholder would put up with a CEO who does not deliver and the beauty is the CEO knows that!, Hence the beauty (delivery) of “in or out” and the effectiveness of this policy.

  • Johan Buys says:

    How does one figure out which towns/wards ActionSA intend contesting in October?

    De Lille has been bought exactly how Onderbroek of the old National Party (forget his name) was bought. If she could shed her ministerial benefits and remember she is a leader, her with ActionSA can be kingmakers in many western cape towns.

    • Coen Gous says:

      Good point Johan. De Lille, as much as I do not like her, was a victim by the J.C. Smit guy at the DA, who now, ALSO, appeared to have lied about his qualifications. God, can we trust anyone in national politics? But from where I sit, Mashaba was not only a very good major of JHB, but a man that at least try to deliver what he promises. Maybe, and if, his party grows, he party won’t remain so, but for now, I trust him, as well as those that actually stand against him in the same party for the major of JHB, as this process is very transparent. If he succeeds in Gauteng, even as a “match breaker”, the part to the south and west is wide open.

    • Gerhard Pretorius says:

      Marthinus van Schalkwyk. He fortunately disappeared from public life. The guy never held a professional job, but was in politics since school days, trying to make a living from it by jumping ship every now and then.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      De Lille is not an option if you want quality. How does one trust her? I do not.

  • Coen Gous says:

    Dear Herman, I am sure that you will not mind that I use this article to talk about something else. However, I do believe you are one of the few that will indeed take notice with empathy. As I am writing this, there are two articles in Daily Maverick written by Estelle Ellis that had me broken down in uncontrollable tears. According to DM, one is not allowed to comment on anything relating to Covid 19. The one article talks about the death and dying in the Eastern Cape, the other about failures at the Gqeberna Hospital. Neither article actually specifically focus on Covid 19, but in order to protect me, the reader, of possible legislation, I can not comment on either, as if it is for DM to decide what I can say or not say. But I dounderstand their view. Now why the hell in a country where there is freedom of speech, am I not allowed to talk about Covid-19 failures is beyond me. Why, has the government got something to hide? But to revert back to Estelle’s articles, both excellent pieces of journalism, but more, exposing the horrors this country governing party has caused, and still doing. Herman, you are at this stage a small player, but an extremely important one. A person such as Hitler took over a country and caused the biggest war the world has ever seen. An American, called Trump, almost achieved exactly the same. Even if no-one else read this comment, I hope you will, as I trust you, and trust is not easily given

    • Gerhard Pretorius says:

      I fully support your remarks on the prevention of comments on articles that refer to Covid. It makes me more sick than Covid to take away my right to an opinion and socalled freedom of speech. If the DM journos were not so damn good and deserving of my (small) financial support, I would have cancelled my subscription long ago.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      Well said Coen. Maybe DM believe that there is a “good ANC and a bad ANC”, and do not want us to see only the real bad-only ANC? I believe that DM, for all their great quality, have a very left-wing agenda. Not a central agenda, a left-wing agenda. For example, I call the liberal, democratic DA a central party. DM, I think it was Mark Heywood, call it some kind of far right party. Check some great liberal countries, New Zealand, Norway, Canada.

  • Gerhard Pretorius says:

    Good going Mr Mashaba. There are a handful of cities in the world that even go much further. In the digital age they publish their budgets online and allow voters to tell them how it should be spent. In other words, voters are not only involved during elections, but basically all the time. True democracy.

    • Coen Gous says:

      Must interesting observation Gerhard. I guess to be a good democracy, total transparency is required. Unfortunately, whilst our own constitution, one of the most democratic in the world, is not really endorsed by our Government, hence our endorsement and support for genuine socialist countries like Russia, Cuba and China. There are literally hundreds of thousands of Cuba’s now living in the US, especially Florida, in order to escape socialism in Cuba. But we also import them in their thousands on short term contracts, such as medical doctors and lately engineers. The “imports” only receive a fraction of the remuneration due to them, the rest to the Cuban Government. Despite our constitution of democracy, South Africa is already more communistic than democratic, thanks to the ANC. Money to the party, particular the branches, little to the people that voted for them

      • Glyn Morgan says:

        I sailed for many years on merchant ships worldwide. For the last 15 years the crews were Russian speaking Ukrainians and some from Poland and a few from former Yugoslavia. NOT ONE wanted to go back to a communist-socialist type country.

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