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ANALYSIS

In run-up to 2024, Maimane’s Bosa bets on talent over profile in candidates

In run-up to 2024, Maimane’s Bosa bets on talent over profile in candidates
Mmusi Maimane, leader of political party Build One South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa party on Tuesday unveiled the first 24 of 200 candidates it will field for election in the 2024 polls. There are few household names among them — but that, says Maimane, is the whole point.

In a country like South Africa, where political loyalties can run exceptionally old and deep, can you build a new political party in a similar manner to a start-up company?

That’s the bet being taken by former DA leader Mmusi Maimane, via his political party Build One South Africa (Bosa) — which on Tuesday introduced its first 24 electoral candidates to the South African public.

There are few well-known names among them. Anyone could apply for a Bosa electoral candidacy, and still can, by submitting a CV and subjecting themselves to a panel interview if shortlisted — in other words, much like a regular staff recruitment process.

One crucial difference, however: applicants needed 1,000 signatures to confirm their candidacy. As Maimane reminded the public on Tuesday, this is the same number of signatures needed by one political party as a whole to register with the Electoral Commission.

Requiring Bosa candidates to go out and do the work of canvassing support ahead of their candidacy, Maimane said, was a way of ensuring further accountability to communities from these candidates than is normally expected of political representatives.

Bosa draws from corporate sector, civil society, government — and politics

Bosa’s quest in compiling its candidate lists is to “find the best South Africans to represent the people”, Maimane said.

In so doing, the party has deliberately looked beyond the political realm to fill its lists. The reasoning for this, to quote deputy party leader Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster, is that “the right leaders [in South Africa] are not in the positions we need them to be in”.

Bosa’s candidates are leaders in other spheres who are “keeping South Africa moving”, Hlazo-Webster said.

Maimane also pointed out, correctly, the uniqueness of having any political party unveil its candidate lists for general elections so far in advance — the precise date of the 2024 polls has yet to be announced, but looks to be at least nine months hence.

“Here are the candidates: interrogate them, investigate them, do lifestyle audits on them,” Maimane challenged the public on Tuesday.

In at least one case, however, all that is required to bring up dirt on a Bosa candidate is a quick refresher Google: the party will field former DA Tshwane mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, arguably best known for a sex scandal which effectively ended his DA career, as a National Assembly candidate.

Perhaps Maimane knows something we don’t about what went on behind the scenes in that case. Mokgalapa is by far the best-known Bosa candidate beyond Maimane himself, though there are other former political figures on the list: two others from the DA and two from ActionSA.

The other candidates are drawn from the corporate world, government, law and civil society. There also appear to be two students on the list.

In the (presumably self-submitted) bios of each candidate on the Bosa website, there are some wonderful details. Candidate Emmanuel Munyai is a former street person, who after getting on his feet has consistently donated his “13th cheque to the poor families around me and those who stay on the street”.

Gospel musician Timothy Maluleke, from Limpopo, “personally donated water tanks to the residents of Letaba after noticing that they were drinking valley water with their animals”.

Many of these candidates seem to be individuals of great talent and drive. Elected into office, Bosa is suggesting, they would bring technocratic skills and experience as well as personal integrity. It is, in essence, the opposite of the ANC policy of cadre deployment — and that could be an appealing sell to voters sick and tired of corrupt politicians and nepotistic practices.

Can Bosa translate its ideas into votes?

The trouble with fielding relatively unknown candidates is, of course, self-evident: they are relatively unknown. In a fledgling political party with little in the way of a national footprint compared with longer-established outfits, these candidates will have their work cut out for them over the next nine months in terms of campaigning.

As things stand, Bosa’s greatest asset is probably still Maimane himself, who will run as the party’s presidential candidate. Despite his bust-up with the DA (or perhaps in some cases because of it), Maimane is still widely viewed as a likeable figure — and has taken some interesting steps of late to keep his profile in public view,such as appearing as a contestant in the TV musical competition The Masked Singer.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mmusi Maimane unveils Build One South Africa’s grand plan to attract voters

Maimane’s original vision was to build a “platform” which would support independent candidates in running for office. That dream has effectively been kiboshed by the disappointing amendments made to date to South Africa’s electoral legislation, which as they stand would make it very difficult for independent candidates to actually win seats in the National Assembly.

Instead, then, Maimane has bowed to the inevitable and accepted the reality of Bosa as an opposition political party candidate in what looks likely to be an exceptionally crowded field. (That said, Bosa still has unusual features — is there any other local political party which has on its organogram a “Business and Religious Coordinator”?)

The question which many will continue to ask in frustration is why outfits like Maimane’s Bosa and Songezo Zibi’s Rize Mzansi, to name just two, cannot join forces to strengthen their electoral prospects — given that the ideological distance at play between them seems absolutely negligible, and given that both parties look likely to struggle in building deep grassroots support nationally without pre-existing infrastructure. Maimane’s attitude towards the DA’s Moonshot Pact, which aims to consolidate arrangements among opposition parties in advance of the elections, has also been highly equivocal.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Meet the leaders behind Rise Mzansi – with eyes set on reviving the spirit of 1994

But if Bosa is truly about effecting leadership change in South Africa, the party may have to trade some of its idealism (or ego) for pragmatism — or be left with very little to show for its efforts. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jennifer Hughes says:

    You had me at ‘hello’.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Would be great to see some CDW ( currently disadvantaged whites) on his list! We might be a minority but our taxes are worth seeking – after all, without them, this country could not function!

    • Ukraak17 says:

      Unfortunately, socialism is the master (or slave) of capitalism. You cannot give free stuff to people unless other people are able to be successful and pay the taxes that you need to fund the free stuff.

      Now if we could just convince our politicians who malign the CDW’s at every turn, that taxes pay the salaries of public official’s.

    • William Nettmann says:

      Hi Jane, you can apply yourself, or go out and encourage some other CDWs to apply.

  • Derrick Kourie says:

    “… why outfits like Maimane’s Bosa and Songezo Zibi’s Rize Mzansi … cannot join forces”?
    The question is extremely relevant with respect to all the tiny political parties in SA. Perhaps part of the answer has to do with the hubris of the party leaders. As alpha personalities, they probably do not make good team players. They have Trump’s “I alone can fix it” mentality. Moreover, certain parliamentary privileges accrue to party leaders such as prioritised speaker time, secretarial services, better/bigger offices, etc. Because of this, I incline to vote for what I judge to be the best (or least bad) larger party, rather for than a smaller party whose proclaimed but untested policies might be marginally better. It often seems to me the provervial case of striving for perfection becoming the enemy of the good.

    • Hilary Morris says:

      Such a valid point!

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Just look at Can’t COPE – even in a single party they’re not united under a single leader! But I agree with you in that we have too many politicians who can’t see beyond their own self interest, and actually put the people of South Africa first. It’ll be interesting to see if the likes of BOSA and Rise Mzansi can attract a substantial portion of the ANC’s more reasonable voters, as well as galvanise young and/or disaffected voters who’re gatvol of the usual faces to turn up at the ballot box. Therein, I think, lies the way forward: ANC, EFF and DA will play rearrange the deckchairs with their solid voter bases, each will probably lose some to each other and other parties like the PA, ATM etc, but whoever can get that voter turnout up above 70% or more, could really make a difference.

  • Rick Astley says:

    You said it Rebecca – ego, the bane of any country’s political machinations. Skills and experience are needed to keep the country’s nuts ‘n bolts attached to the bits that run the country. And to handle unions. The Eskom – unions wages deal has invited the country’s civil services to blackmail the public, with no consequences. Large parts of PTA have been without power since 10pm last night, which is suspected to be linked to a wildcat municipal strike. How would Musi or Rise Mzansi deal with the beasts that are the taxi and multiple power-hungry unions?

  • Steve Davidson says:

    OK, Mmusi go for it but PLEASE not in any DA or potential DA seats. The last thing we need is a split in the anti-ANC/EFF vote. We need to get those thieving, lying, corrupt swine out of power if we can. Whether you call it a moonshot or not we need to get together NOW!

  • Hilary Morris says:

    Trading ego for pragmatism is likely to be the stumbling block to progress in the ridiculously named Moonshot Pact. As a sweeping generalisation, politicians are ego first and foremost.

  • rodhering says:

    My memory tells me, that when the DA tanked under his leadership in the last election, his knee jerk reaction was to accuse the voters that had moved on from the DA of being racist. BOSA will not get my vote

  • Hester Dobat says:

    I also am puzzled why white people are written off within political parties. Is the stigma and steriotyping of whites never going to end? The business sector now jumping in to help floundering SA, to the benefit of all south africans, are they only drawn from one particular colour? Are we really categorising ourselves by the colour of our skin? As someone else commented, can SA really afford to go forward without inclusion of this tax generating group of people?

  • Peter Corbett says:

    If Mmusi is number one on the party list he will need only about 40,000 votes to become an MP. So with 24 candidates each needing 1000 signatures – presumably who will also vote for BOSA – plus a few further candidates and his personal support he makes it into parliament. That he will probably make it alone or maybe with one or two others will not matter. Mmusi will be elected, his ego will be satisfied, and a fat salary and associated perks will help. His influence will be zero but who cares – apart from the taxpayer who will fund his charade.

  • Gerrie Pretorius says:

    The biggest problem I have with the Moonshot Pact is, they are AGAINST the anc and eff. I would rather like to see them being FOR something like “ Service Delivery”.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    Am I right in saying that Mokgalapa was not fired for sexual impropriety. An audio recording in which he referred to various politicians in rude terms was what got the DA fired up.

  • Johan Buys says:

    among all the squabbles, I am left with this image of former prisoner zuma and that SSA side-kick of his laughing their heads off at how SA Opposition Parties (anything but anc is their common essence) are playing exactly the childish ego games that the clan wanted them to play.

    Wake up DA! Understand that the DA will ever be elected with the current leadership. Right, wrong, whatever : it won’t happen. Live with that fact and plan accordingly. We can spend a decade debating theoretical issues, realities are realities and that is all we have to work with.

    Get Patricia back. Get Musi back. Get Mashaba back. You can probably get Holomisa and Buthelezi back if you carry momentum. Go after the churches. The ZCC is bigger than the unions!

    What stands in the way? Personal egos is all. Cadre deployment runs a close second. Please do not tell me that the DA only deploys the most capable people – I have first hand experience of cadre deployment in my DA town.

  • Change is good sa says:

    Musi Maimane knows very well that a plethora of candidates will not create the change we need in SA. It dilutes the vote, making it difficult to work against an historical vote for the ANC. Despite the failings the ANC government, older generation South Africans still vote with their hearts, hoping for change. A vote for an independent is a wasted vote. We need to be decisive in our need for change. We cannot let the corruption of ANC dominate for another 5 years. Every South African knows this.
    So, Musi Maimane, be strategic, swallow your pride, put your ego aside and be part of the DA ‘Moonshot’ or whatever name it will change to. In my opinion, the DA are the only political party who are thinking outside the box. Doing things differently to get a different outcome. Musi’s ‘Independents’ is different, but it will not work in SA this time around. We need more mature politics in the country for this to happen. We are in survival mode at present.

  • Peter Hartley says:

    The current political parties offer nothing new and are going to find it hard to attract new supporters except for the fallout from the ANC. BOSA might therefore surprise us. South Africa needs something new and candidates that are close to the people and genuinely interested in improving their lot, might just be the answer. I will watch with interest.

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