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SA’s 2024 elections party lists — the bad, the weird and the ugly

SA’s 2024 elections party lists — the bad, the weird and the ugly
Illustrative image: Nompendulo Mkhatshwa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | The EFF’s Julius Malema. (Photo: Gallo Images / Dirk Kotze) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Volksblad / Mlungisi Louw) | Duduzane Zuma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier) | Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lubabalo Lesolle) | Naledi Chirwa (EFF). (Photo: Jaco Marais)

On Monday, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) made its party lists open to the public, revealing the 14,662 candidates nominated by political parties to fill the seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures after the May 29 elections. We take a look at the more eye-catching features.

Most desperate way to ensure your party ends up near the top of the ballot sheet: Give it a name that starts with a hashtag, even though the Gen Zs will find it so cringe. Looking at you, #Hope4SA. (It should be noted that this technique is by no means infallible: the ultimate order of the first parties on the ballot sheet is determined by a draw.)

Political philanderers: The IEC has announced that 42 candidates appeared on more than one party list. These candidates deserve our grudging respect, because most of us don’t have the energy to stand for election for one party, let alone multiple simultaneously, but you have to imagine that the “I thought we were exclusive” conversation will now awkwardly ensue.

Hell hath no fury like… Julius Malema scorned. Hoo boy! EFF MP Naledi Chirwa, one of the stars of the Fallist movement and consequently one of the EFF’s most high-profile parliamentarians, has been brutally demoted — seemingly on account of #Gazebogate.

In brief: Chirwa missed the parliamentary vote in late February on the impeachment of judges John Hlophe and Nkola Motata and was subsequently required to publish a grovelling apology to the public, in which she happened to mention that the reason for being awol from Parliament was that her four-month-old daughter was sick. Oh, and that Chirwa had taken maternity leave just one day before she gave birth, and had returned to work two months before the end of her maternity leave. Chirwa was also made to purchase two gazebos for the party as punishment.

The incident caused an outpouring of public commiserations towards Chirwa, not least because the status of women in the EFF has long been controversial. In response, Malema doubled down, cryptically tweeting that the issue was forcing EFF representatives to “defend rubbish”.

Now Malema’s revenge has been made chillingly clear. Chirwa has been humiliatingly placed in the very last position on the EFF’s national list: the 200th spot. She is last on the EFF’s Gauteng list for the regional ballot and does not appear on the provincial ballot.

EFF representatives, take note: this is what happens when you cross the so-called Commander-in-Chief.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

If you’re a voter who likes a Congress, you’re spoiled for choice: Take your pick from the Abantu Batho Congress, African Congress for Transformation, African Heart Congress, African Independent Congress, African Movement Congress, African National Congress, National Coloured Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, Democratic Liberal Congress, or the good old Congress of the People. (No word on whether Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota intends to “eat a hat” if his party loses votes in the May 29 polls. He made this promise ahead of the 2014 elections and was subsequently bullied by journalists into taking a bite out of a grey hat, though he declined tomato sauce on the side.)

If you’re a voter who’s not picky about spelling: The “Citizans” might be the party for you. Or if that’s not inclusive enough for you, try the All Citizens Party, appearing on the provincial ballot.

If you like your politicians free-range: Try the Organic Humanity Movement.

If one “Africa” in a party name isn’t quite enough for you: The Africa Africans Reclaim party is waiting for your vote.

Most misleading party name: The South African Rainbow Alliance, which sounds like it is gearing up to organise the next Johannesburg Pride — but is in fact a coalition of civil society organisations and faith-based groups led by former City of Joburg Speaker Colleen Makhubele. Fun fact: one of its campaign promises is to introduce a special social grant for “unemployed single men”, which could be wonderful news for all the unemployed single women chasing them for maintenance.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery: For the last few elections, the ANC has been gritting its teeth about the appearance on the ballot of the AIC (African Independent Congress), which features suspiciously similar colours to the ANC and has essentially been accused of stealing ANC votes via this design subterfuge.

This time around, the ANC has a more serious copyright dispute on its hands — after losing its initial attempt to have former president Jacob Zuma’s new uMkhonto Wesizwe party rename itself.

But it is not the only party cursing its sneaky rivals. The EFF now has pretenders of its own, in the form of the Economic Liberators Forum South Africa. And poor Rize Mzansi, one of the newest kids on the block, is already having to contend with upstarts Arise South Africa.

If the ANC’s support for Russia is not quite passionate enough for you: Consider the Bolsheviks Party of South Africa?

If you only care about a single issue: This used to be the territory powerfully occupied by the Dagga Party, which has seemingly fallen off the ballot as a victim of the successful decriminalisation of marijuana. But now you can take your pick, in terms of speciality subject parties, between Basic Income Grant SA (appearing on the provincial ballot) and the Referendum Party, which is selling Capetonians pipe dreams about secession. (Special shout-out in addition to the South African Maintenance and Estate Beneficiaries Association, standing for the Limpopo provincial ballot, and all the very best to whatever they do.)

Party name which sounds most like a really lame cover band: Build One South Africa With Mmusi Maimane

Most lyrical party name: Socialist Agenda of Dispossessed Africans. Chef’s kiss!

Is the People’s Advocate heading for the People’s Parliament? Celebrity advocate and world-class bullshitter Dali Mpofu appears at a vertigo-inducing number 11 on the EFF’s national list. The EFF believes strongly in a bit of star power:  Afro-Pop singer Ringo Madlingozi, kwaito star Eugene Mthethwa and actor Fana Mokoena are also in plausible positions on its list.

It’s a family business: Politics is a dynastic affair for the country’s former First Family. In what may be a first for the democratic South Africa, we have a father and son duo heading up lists for separate parties going into this election. Jacob Zuma is number one for the MK party; son Duduzane is number one for (don’t laugh, please) the All Game Changers. Duduzane’s sister Duduzile, meanwhile, is number 11 for the MK party. With Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma having opted to stay off the ANC’s list, maybe it’s a one-Zuma-out, two-Zumas-in policy operating.

Taking the biggest chance: This gong goes, unsurprisingly, to the perennially shameless JZ. There is no legal universe in which Zuma should be able to head the MK party’s list on account of his criminal record, as the IEC has already confirmed. But now the commission has to grow some nuclear-sized ovaries to chuck him off the ballot.

Our nonracial future: For the first time, the EFF has a white candidate in a credible position: Carl Niehaus is at number 27 on its national list. To put this into perspective, the EFF has 44 seats in the National Assembly, so Onse Carl has a very good chance of making it into red overalls. What a stroke of luck for the Soldier of Misfortune.

Is she in or out? Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor is still on the ANC list at number 86, despite having insisted to the media that she would not take up public office after the elections.

Also still on the ANC’s lists: Corruption-accused Zweli Mkhize (number two on the party’s list for KwaZulu-Natal); corruption-accused David Mahlobo (number 13 on the party’s national list); corruption-accused Cedric Frolick (number 10 on the party’s Eastern Cape list)… To quote a naughty colleague, “renewal” for the ANC looks a lot like that collapsing bridge in Baltimore.

Electoral candidate with the best name: Shout-out, please, to the Patriotic Alliance’s Gauteng candidate Elton John Visagie. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Paul B says:

    Elton John Visagie 😂😂😂😂😂

  • Wayne Holt says:

    Very funny Rebecca. South Africa is not for the faint hearted but very amusing none the less. 🤣🤣

  • Richard G says:

    Politics, particularly elections, are unfortunately very entertaining, but mostly for the wrong reasons. It is such a pity that the average Joe and the country at large needs to suffer so much during these events. My prediction (and fear) is that billions of Rands of damage and several lives are probably going to be lost due to false promises, expectations created and high levels of hate and violence prevalent in our country. Let’s hope and pray that this doesn’t happen. #PRAY4SA

      • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

        Rough ride ahead and I doubt it will be for the benefit of the voters although the cost will be shared, as they say you get what the majority ask for, I doubt the majority is wise in making choices, people get elected for being charming and making good dance moves.

        • Chris Louw says:

          Yep, it’s amazing how many votes you can garner with a KFC meal and a free t-shirt, either the ANC voters don’t give a damn and don’t care or don’t comprehend how much damage the thieves in government are doing, due to very low standaards of education since they came to power, being the well indoctrnated meek populace that’s merely satisfied with some pittance grant or another, rather than building this country, where is the ambition?

  • Heinrich Holt says:

    I can’t help to think that the world has gone mad. Vlad just had his own election. No mention of another party. Not sure if the Kim guy from North Korea ever holds one. The US are going to have an orange and a corpse on the ballot. And then ours….taken to a level of comical proportions. That is the pre-show. The fear mongering part is the outcome. The elected clowns are allowed to make laws and decisions. And to collect tax.

  • john harrison says:

    Such great choices we have, thinking of Carl Naaihuas in a red overall conjures up some image it has to be said.

  • john harrison says:

    Such great choices we have, thinking of Carl Naaihuas in a red overall conjures up some image it has to be said.

  • a_lick and_a_promise says:

    I just love their titles “Corruption-accused” so much better than fake “Dr”.

  • Nicol Mentz says:

    Are there still Deposits levied to stand? And how much?
    If there are, are these deposits forfeited below a certain number of votes?

    • Adrian J says:

      Yes, there are deposits. A party that wants to appear on every ballot deposits R750,000 – made up of R300,000 for the National Assembly and R50,000 for each provincial legislature. Independent candidates deposit R20,000 for the NA and R15,000 for a provincial legislature.

      The deposit is forfeited if the party/independent does not win a seat in the respective legislature.

  • George 007 says:

    This article points out very clearly how immature SA’s democracy is. The bar to become a political party is far too low to make elections a serious process.

  • Hermann Rabe says:

    Quite entertaining. Happy to note also that the major parties that couldn’t make the above shame-list are also the lesser of the evils and the better voting options come May.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    Love Rebecca! She makes my day every time she puts fingers to keyboard. Thank you Rebecca – and beautiful too!

  • Norm L says:

    Well played Rebecca. I had a few good laughs reading this!

  • Johannes Engelbrecht says:

    Unfortunately for us as “citizans” it IS our circus AND our monkeys… and we’ll just have to own up to the fact that we allow this smash hit sitcom to continue for the umpteenth season. Well it can’t be too bad if we’re still so passive about it, can it?

  • Trevor McCauley says:

    We saw a similar principle unfold in Zimbabwe. It’s called divide and rule. The more splinter parties entering the elections the less chance the dominant ANC opposition party (The DA) has of picking up voters that are disillusioned with the ANC. These individuals referred to are sponsored by the ANC.

  • John Pocock says:

    Gave me a good laugh Rebecca, but, to be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Welcome to the World Circus. Surely we must be eligible for a Guinness World Record award of some kind? 😒😂😂😂

  • Betsie Ackerman says:

    This gave me such a good giggle. The thought of onse Carl in a red overall, that will hurt for sure.

  • Betsie Ackerman says:

    This gave me such a good giggle. The thought of onse Carl in a red overall, that will hurt for sure.

  • Abel Mngadi says:

    all the members of these parties are applying for parliamentary jobs, that is all they are concerned with, salaries and perks, and not to do anything that benefits the country or it’s citizens. The bigger parties are aiming at looting whatever is left in the country’s purse. That’s the nature of politics in Africa and the world over.

  • Peter Holmes says:

    At least Julius only demotes the comrades who incur his wrath – Uncle Joe Stalin used to shoot them, while comrade Putin has them falling out of windows on tall buildings.

  • Margaux Overbeek says:

    The Organic Humanity Movement seems to be the only party standing for a complete overhaul of the political and electoral system in favour of Direct Elections, to empower citizens to vote vote their representatives, including the President, DIRECTLY, not through a party. Love it.

  • John Patson says:

    Dagga Party vanished in a puff of smoke… Still no room for the Monster Raving Loonies Party, maybe, in the SA context they already exist.

    • Chris Brand says:

      John, during the last overall election, The Dagga Party was THE ONLY PARTY that got its (only) reason for canvassing, actually 100% implemented via law. Now lets see if any other political party on this RSA Comical List can say and achieve the same 100% IMPLEMENTATION. I do not believe in what they believe and is now legal though, but they got what they proposed 100% – which I guess is a Guinness Book of World Record achievement. ‘ Nuff said.

  • T'Plana Hath says:

    Absolutely splendid reporting. This is absurdity in positively Adamsian proportions, and you’ve captured it right here.

    “Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?” – Douglas Adams

  • Senzo Moyakhe says:

    Elton John Visagie 🎼😆😆😆😆😏

  • Johan Buys says:

    Is it true that are something like 380 parties for the national ballot or is that just registered parties as opposed to ones that intend to contest?

    The ballot will need to be a roll of paper! The toilet paper analogy is obvious.

  • David C says:

    It is time we admitted that our Constitutional democracy, designed by people who obviously thought that most South Africans were more intelligent than they obviously are, has led us to the point of a Kakistocracy. There is not a single person in those lists that I would buy a used car from, let alone consider them a leader that should be allowed to express an opinion on how a country should be run. I find it mind-boggling that the criteria to get elected and feast on the teat of the taxpayer is so low as to be meaningless. If every single perosn on those lists were suddenly afflicted with a fatal brain aneurysm (which I would definitely waste one of my 3 wishes on) the country would actually be better off.

  • Norman Sander says:

    If we lose our humour, we lose everything. A lovely piece of prose.
    Seriously, for a moment, if JZ ends up as a candidate, then it is clear to me that someone in Constitutional Court is in his pocket..JMHO.

  • Glyn Fogell says:

    Don’t forget, for many years in the UK the national elections were contested by the Monster Raving Loony party. While these elections are a serious matter for the country going forward (please, let’s have an administration with competent people dedicated to actually making things better and taking action is stead of being “shocked”), a little bit of levity doesn’t hurt.

  • Heinrich Heiriss says:

    I think it’s Rise Mzansi, not Rize.

  • Colin Braude says:

    After all the court cases, hoo-hah and high drama, the number of independent candidates is a massive 6 [six].

    Just exceeding the collective political IQ of the judges who allowed them there.

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      I strongly disagree with those sentiments. We deserve to be able to vote for independents who have not completely abdicated their individual decision-making and moral compass to a collective (or face termination if they step out of line).

      Of course the number of candidates sticking their toes in the water was always going to be few, at first. Even more so, considering the rush job that Parliament eventually made of pushing through a wholly imperfect Electoral Amendment Act after wasting an enormous amount of time.

      But I think this number will grow in the future.

  • W De Soto says:

    Which party would be best prepared to improve load shedding or make good appointments to Eskom?

  • Ray mac says:

    Once any politician wins an election they forget theyre public servants and think they’re now celebrities.

  • Tanweer Mohamed says:

    I love this piece (such a humorous overview), thanks Rebecca!

  • Exist Nomad says:

    What an absolutely hilarious article, that, while having me on the floor with laughter, also reveals the utterly comical and sad state of South African politics.

    It is difficult to see hope. Perhaps losing hope is exactly what’s needed. To jolt people into seeing reality.

  • Bob Fraser says:

    Bob F – March 28th 2024 at 05:44
    Surely the IEC can’t be serious? Is it not within their power to decline to register names of parties and names of individuals put up by those
    parties? The more that’s published about the election the more it suggests a banana republic.

  • Andrew Newman says:

    “There is no legal universe in which Zuma should be able to head the MK party’s list on account of his criminal record, as the IEC has already confirmed.”
    And yet the IEC has approved his candidacy and included him on the published lists.

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