South Africa

2024 ELECTIONS

Reality Check cometh: Multi-Party Charter fails to shoot to the moon

Reality Check cometh: Multi-Party Charter fails to shoot to the moon
DA leader John Steenhuisen at the National Results Operation Centre in Midrand on 31 May. (Photo: Luba Lesolle / Gallo Images)

Since the Multi-Party Charter has not been able to make positive headway in the elections, the member political parties have to take a more pragmatic approach and look elsewhere for partnerships. As things stand, it seems unlikely that the parties will collectively win even 30% nationally.

In 2023 a group of political parties came together with the sole purpose of pushing the ANC out of power and creating a viable alternative for South Africans.

The Multi-Party Charter (MPC), which was initially called the “Moonshot Pact”, is the brainchild of the DA, which brought together ActionSA, the IFP, Freedom Front Plus, ACDP and other smaller parties, determined to get 50% +1 collectively. 

This has proven to be a very arduous task, with the DA being the only party which has performed considerably well.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections dashboard

By Friday evening, 31 May, with results confirmed from 84.57% of voting districts, the DA’s support stood at 22.25% nationally, which was higher than the 20.77% it won in 2019 but hardly enough to propel the MPC into government.

The IFP’s electoral fate was severely hampered by the participation of former president Jacob Zuma’s MK party and by Friday evening, it had only won 3.52% of the national vote.

Other MPC members have struggled. ActionSA was sitting on 1.11%, the FF+ 1.44%, ACDP 0.6% and the United Independent Movement (UIM) 0.13%.

By Friday night, the MPC was sitting on just under 30% nationally. In Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, which the MPC had targeted, it had won around 34% and 30% respectively.

‘We brought our share’

Speaking to Daily Maverick, DA leader John Steenhuisen expressed his disappointment about the results achieved by his MPC partners but maintained that he would not turn his back against the pact. 

The DA is the largest partner in the pact, and if the MPC had formed a national majority, Steenhuisen would have likely become the leader of government business in Parliament.

“The charter remains the core priority moving forward and they will be my first priority going forward. And they will be the first people we meet once the results are finalised to look at what is in the realm of possibility in terms of provincial coalitions and what we can do at a national level,” Steenhuisen said.

The MPC is still open to new political parties joining, in the hope that it will be able to form a coalition at national or provincial level. 

“We are open to bringing parties who weren’t part of the charter before to see what they can add. If we are not successful with that, now we will have to look at what is the next best step for SA. How do we protect our people from the doomsday coalition?” he said, using the DA’s reference to a possible coalition between the ANC, EFF and possibly the MK party.

“There are parties we were expecting bigger things from. We have brought our share to the table and we said we would bring the bulk of what is needed to be to the 50%+1 mark. I would like to have seen those parties grow and do better. We have put in a lot of time and resources into the MPC and I do not regret it,” Steenhuisen said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: DA threatens to approach courts over IEC elections ‘omnishambles’

The MK party’s impact

IFP MP Narend Singh acknowledged the impact the MK party has had on his party, along with the recent passing of IFP founder Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

IFP leader, Velenkosini Hlabisa, was rumoured to be the frontrunner for the MPC’s presidential position; however, a final decision was never communicated by the charter.

“It is not ideal, as we were hoping to get the 50%+ 1 and then we can form a government at whatever level, but now it is not possible. We are going to meet up and map out a way forward. 

“I don’t think we lost votes to the DA. I think we lost numbers to the MK party. When we look at our numbers and percentages we got in 2019, we are slightly above that. We are not feeling too bad, but we could have been better than we are doing on the board.

“The passing of the leader has something to do with this. His legacy did help us, but it’s difficult to say now. He would have driven the campaign but hindsight is the best sight,” he said.

‘Pathways for cooperation’

ActionSA is one of the parties that was expected to perform well in the election. The party’s showing at the 2021 local polls was impressive; however, this did not translate on a national and provincial level.

Despite this, the party’s national chairperson, Michael Beaumont, said the party would continue working with the MPC. 

“We are proud of the results we have, although it is not what we were looking for. We are going to come together as the MPC and look at pathways for cooperation, going in whatever form it takes including coalitions mostly in provinces. We will take it forward from there,” he said.

He, however, raised concerns about the possibility of the DA’s ditching the charter to work with the ANC instead. 

“As it relates to options, they do have options and from day one, they have always had their options open. They created the MPC, campaigned for change to win votes away from their own partners and at the same time keeping the door open for the ANC,” Beaumont said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC discusses cooperation with other parties as it seems set to lose KZN

FF+ head of elections Wouter Wessels said voting patterns in the country are still rigid, but he was pleased with the ANC dropping beneath 50%.

“It is disappointing [that the other parties were not able to galvanise support]. I think this election shows that South Africans were determined to get the ANC out, but there were a lot of voters who stayed away because they are disgruntled and they do not trust new parties, which is not necessarily a good thing, because it means the SA electorate votes historically and that’s not necessarily good,” he said. 

“We said the election results will determine what parties will come together. You have the choice of going into an ANC coalition or one that keeps the ANC out.

“As the FF+, we have said from the beginning that we are determined to keep the ANC out. They have had their chance to govern and they have shown that they do not govern better and do not deliver services to the people.”

UIM president Neil de Beer felt his party could possibly garner enough support to win at least one seat in Parliament.

“We are good. It’s our first national election. Our outcome is as steady as a nuclear submarine. I think voter turnout will be less than projected, so I think one seat is coming. We are very, very excited.”

He said the strong support for the MK party was concerning.

“The country has just moved into a radical separatist state and that is shocking, that people will rather vote for camouflage and a criminal than on a moderate democratic basis. There is this absolute regime of radicalism that will govern this country, and that is not what Mandela fought for,” he said. DM

Additional reporting by Richard Stupart.

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