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Amcu’s new Labour Party in scramble to meet IEC’s signatures of support deadline

Amcu’s new Labour Party in scramble to meet IEC’s signatures of support deadline
Joseph Mathunjwa (centre) at the launch of Amcu's Labour Party of South Africa in Braamfontein. 7 March 2024. (Photo: Ed Stoddard)

The new party claims that it has 65,000 signatures of support, but uploading them takes time and it will be pressed to meet the deadline set out in newly amended IEC regulations for new and smaller parties to get on the ballot.

The new Labour Party launched by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is in a race to submit its signatures of support to the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) ahead of an 8 March deadline.  

At its debut press briefing at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, the Labour Party said it was striving to meet the deadline, but was seeking to have it extended in court.

“The Labour Party will be taking the IEC to the high court tomorrow to extend the deadlines in the election timetable; namely, the cut-off dates for submissions which obliged newly registered and/or unrepresented parties to comply with section 27 of the Electoral Act by Friday, 8 March 2024,” the party said. 

“The Labour Party also contends, in short, that without this interdict it seeks through the high court, the elections will not be free and fair. The Labour Party is not the only affected party, and absent the interdict, there is an adverse effect [on] the integrity of the elections.”

The party claims that it has 65,000 signatures of support but uploading them takes, well, time, and that it will be pressed to meet the deadline set out in newly amended IEC regulations for new and smaller parties to get on the ballot.

Joseph Mathunjwa at the launch of Amcu’s Labour Party of South Africa (Labour Party) in Braamfontein on 7 March 2024. (Photo: Ed Stoddard)

Amcu, headed by the fiery Joseph Mathunjwa, for years claimed that it was apolitical. But the union said that South Africa’s mounting social and economic problems had forced a rethink.

“Amcu realised that it had, in many respects, reached a cul-de-sac when it comes to engagements, and for it to have a meaningful impact in the lives of people, it would need to participate in national policy-making processes. It thus became clear that we need to be in Parliament to influence the national dialogue and socioeconomic policy-making,” the party said. 

Mathunjwa was disparaging about parties that “filled stadiums” by drawing on the ranks of the unemployed — a clear shot at the ANC and the EFF.

“Those people who fill those stadiums, are they working? They are mostly unemployed people of South Africa that fill up the stadium, and after, they go back to squalor. But those that call them, they are employed,” Mathunjwa said. 

The Labour Party’s campaign slogan is “The power is in your hands” and it sees unemployment as “enemy number one, and it is fair to say that it is unemployment that leads to poverty and inequality”.

Unconventional proposal

That is a conventional view held by parties and commentators across South Africa’s wide political spectrum. But some of the Labour Party’s proposed remedies are unconventional, such as “conscription” for unemployed youth.

“One of the proposals of the Labour Party is to create employment through conscription of unemployed youth to perform public services at a monthly stipend … this will have a double benefit, in that it will lead to increased levels of public service while also addressing unemployment and barriers to entering the world of work, such as lacking skills and work experience,” the party said. 

It would “avoid entering into unscrupulous funding agreements. We must fund our own revolution. Our revolution will be funded by like-minded organisations banding together for the sake of social and economic justice.”

This presumably means it won’t take funds from big business, which is unlikely to be knocking at its door in the first place.

Its demands include “jobs for all” and to “tax the super-rich”. 

The Labour Party insists it is not an Amcu party, but it was disappointed that most trade unions did not accept its invitation for an engagement on Wednesday.

Amcu has been a formidable force on South Africa’s labour front for over a decade, but channelling that energy into a viable political force this late in the electoral game will be an arduous task. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Amcu jolted the ANC’s union ally in the mines, but its new Labour Party will likely struggle at the polls 

The party is still working on the details of a national convention to elect its leadership and its manifesto is still being drafted. But this all may come to nought if the party fails to get on the ballot. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rae Earl says:

    These people don’t have a clue about anything outside of using union muscle power to get their way. What do they know about economics, the fiscus, national administration, and foreign affairs? This is simply another wannabe crowd looking for fat salaries and perks replete with blue light brigades and the authority of power. Walk away voters, this is just another ANC in disguise waiting to stomp on you.

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