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ROAD TO 2024 ELECTIONS

Rise Mzansi vows no ‘yawnfest’ but a ‘festival of solutions’ at convention to thrash out poll manifesto

Rise Mzansi vows no ‘yawnfest’ but a ‘festival of solutions’ at convention to thrash out poll manifesto
Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi. (Photo: Gallo Images / Fani Mahuntsi)

Politics’ new kid on the block, Rise Mzansi, is gearing up to host a three-day People’s Convention at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, where more than 800 South Africans from all walks of life are expected to develop a People’s Manifesto which will set the tone for the party’s 2024 election campaign.

‘People have lost faith in politics. It is the biggest risk to democracy, this disillusionment with politics in general. There are people who even say we just want to do our own thing and never involve the government. But you can’t do that. The government has obligations. It is your government. They have to do certain things, but you have to be in the political system to get them to do it.” 

These are the words of Songezo Zibi, the national leader of South Africa’s newest addition to the political playing field, Rise Mzansi.

Part of Rise Mzansi’s answer to this disillusionment is its People’s Convention, which kicks off on Friday, 6 October. For three days, at least 800 delegates from all walks of life are expected to converge on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg to help develop the party’s manifesto in the run-up to the highly anticipated 2024 elections.

At a press conference on Wednesday, 27 September, presidential hopeful Zibi painted the event as a festival of solution, meant to turn South Africa’s current political culture on its head and place power back in the hands of the people.

Sprouting from the unorthodox think tank of concerned professionals, the Rivonia Circle, formed in 2022, Rise Mzansi emerged as a political party at an official launch in April 2023. At the launch, the party vowed to free South Africa from “the clutches of a political establishment that no longer has any solutions or plans for the country and its 60 million people”.

Zibi said: “That is part of the reason we are doing this in this way and asking South Africans what they need [from the government].”

Rise Mzansi People's Convention

Rise Mzansi will host a three-day People’s Convention at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. (Photo: Twitter)

Since launching Rise Mzansi has embarked on a monthslong endeavour to consult with South Africans from all walks of life in all nine provinces to gauge the issues plaguing ordinary citizens. Zibi said those engagements will shape Friday’s convention. 

And in line with the spirit of collaboration, the party has opened up the development of its manifesto to ordinary South Africans and members of civil society at the convention, to help shape its election campaign.

“[These conversations] are at the heart of why [the convention] will be different to anything most people expect to see in South African politics,” Zibi said.

Food for thought

At the media briefing, Zibi said the policy discussions at the convention will be centred on six themes which reflect the concepts of well-being and happiness that are central to the party’s politics.

The themes include family in all its forms – and all things that threaten the healthy functioning of the family unit – and community, which extends beyond tackling crime to address road transport safety, public facilities, green parks and spaces, community centres, sports facilities and other infrastructure that makes a community cohesive and liveable.

We will ask delegates to discuss whether the elites need to get billions of rand in Public Investment Corporation money to get small stakes in white-owned companies and fund expensive lifestyles, or [whether] we invest that in 100% black- and woman-owned companies with real potential.

A big topic on the table for discussion is governance. South Africa has had its fair share of governance issues, from unfettered corruption and State Capture to maladministration at state-owned enterprises and the collapse of several municipalities. Zibi said: “Governance is a response to matters pertaining to electoral reform, immigration, fighting corruption, political accountability, fixing the public service, the structure and size of Cabinet and so on.”

Another hot-button topic is the economy. Zibi said that “to deliver the life South Africans deserve, we need to fix our broken economy, such as the looming bankruptcy of the South African government”. 

“The People’s Convention is where we will decide on the nature and extent of state support for struggling families and people who can’t put food on the table. We will ask delegates to discuss whether the elites need to get billions of rand in Public Investment Corporation money to get small stakes in white-owned companies and fund expensive lifestyles, or [whether] we invest that in 100% black- and woman-owned companies with real potential.”

Delegates will also unpack nation-building and how South Africans can build a culture of competence and success and tackle complex issues such as racism and xenophobia, as well as tackle climate change, an existential risk that affects all South Africans but especially the poor, who are vulnerable to its impacts.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Inside Songezo Zibi’s plan for Rise Mzansi to break old politics – can he pull it off?

“Villagers need modern seed technology to withstand extreme weather. Families and communities need fortification against extreme weather such as flooding and drought. Yet, we have a government that uses the contingency reserve to pay salaries instead of the almost guaranteed natural disasters that are now the norm.”

The fledgling party has released discussion papers on these themes, which are meant to provoke conversation at the convention but offer no final position.

At the end of the three-day convention it will announce its declaration, which will inform its political programme for the next generation, and its election manifesto – the “People’s Manifesto” – will be published a month later.

Zibi said the convention “will be a real festival of solutions, not the yawnfests of long tables, long, boring speeches and tired, sleeping delegates at midnight listening to tepid contributions from politicians who think they know much but do not”. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Denise Smit says:

    If this is not white monopoly capital talk of the ANC/EFF then I will eat my hat. And he wants to take the pension money of the PIC to invest as he pleases to fund his big ideas. You can not touch pensioner money. I hope the stakeholders of state pensioners are reading this. Denise Smit

  • Denise Smit says:

    So where are the fresh ideas? White monopoly capital talk of the ANC/EFF and taking of pensioners hard earned money is all the ANC/EFF has left and Zibi is into this as well. Denise Smit

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