Mbali Ntuli — South Africans needn’t wait for political parties, we must reclaim our civic rights
The Ground Work Collective, an organisation recently launched by the former DA KwaZulu-Natal MPL, describes itself as anything but a political party, but rather an organisation that has been built to assist communities by providing civic education to empower themselves in their own lives.
Former DA public representative Mbali Ntuli’s Ground Work Collective (GWC) has conducted its own research which found that the impact of low voter registration by young people coupled with the disproportionately large size of the electorate, has had a profound impact on the turnout of our elections.
The organisation found this trend would create a cohort of voters who have learnt the habit of not voting.
Speaking at the launch of the organisation in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Ntuli said voter apathy not only weakens South Africa’s democracy but by opting out, citizens inadvertently allow political players to escape being held accountable.
“For GWC, it is not enough for an electoral outcome or that the electoral system is technically sound. Our history demands of us that after exercising our right we must take responsibility for electoral outcomes — whatever they are — and ensure elected parties and politicians honour their manifestos.
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“We cannot abdicate this responsibility. Nobody in South Africa can afford to not be into politics anymore. I say this not to shame people who are rightfully overwhelmed at the circus that is our politics,” she said.
That is why Ntuli decided to start the GWC, to teach communities about their civic rights in order to assist with empowering themselves in their own lives.
“Aside from calling their councillor when there is no electricity or water, do they know how to get answers from them or their political party outside of election time? Are they aware they can create UIPs (urban improvement precincts) for their neighbourhoods? South Africans do not have to wait for political parties. They can affect change themselves and force political parties to be scared of them and their collective power,” she said at the launch.
Other initiatives which the GWC will be taking on include a food production programme and teaching communities how to develop skills and entrepreneurship.
The GWC will next week be unveiling its first big public project which is said to be geared towards “capturing the imaginations of young South Africans and excite them about the role they can play in their futures”.
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A year ago, Ntuli resigned from the DA, citing challenges she had faced in the party.
Ntuli was in the DA’s ranks since her days as a student at Rhodes University and is largely credited for starting the youth wing of the official opposition. In 2011, she was a councillor in Inanda, the DA Youth Federal Leader in 2013 and a member of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature by 2014.
All eyes were on Ntuli in 2020 when she threw her hat in the ring to lead the DA and contested against then-interim leader John Steenhuisen.
Ntuli’s campaign was about having zero tolerance for anyone who tries to derail her vision to mould the party into an organisation grounded on kindness, strength and fairness.
However, she was unable to win the position after a two-day virtual elective congress. It was a landslide victory with Steenhuisen who won 80% of the votes. DM