Bacs: new kid on the political block
Boniwe Ngwenya is taking his son to a barber shop in Orlando West when he’s intercepted by Mpho Legofe, who hands him a pamphlet for a fledgling political party, Building a Cohesive Society in South Africa (Bacs).
Ngwenya’s 16-year-old son looks on irritably when his father begins talking to Legofe about drugs in the area and how these might be eradicated.
The Bacs volunteer soon has the worried father signed up as a member of her party.
“No one else has been able to help my son or me. He’s doing drugs and I have tried knocking on every political party representative’s door and no one wants to help me.
“This party is talking exactly to my needs, exactly to the issue that is deeply affecting me and my son,” Ngwenya says.
“I need this political party to help me fight these drugs. It’s so difficult as a parent when your child has a cellphone out of the blue, which you did not buy for him. When he is beaten to death on the streets then you blame the community, when you could have done something,” he adds.
The party will have its first bite at the political pie in the August local government elections. It hopes to win a few wards before the national elections take place in 2019.
Although campaigning has yet to get into full swing, the party is trying to build up a membership base. Legofe and her team are able to sign up more than a dozen members in a few hours.
“People are looking for an alternative that is not about blaming each other. People want to get involved in changing their communities. This is what we offer and that’s the main reason I joined. I want to build,” Legofe says.
Julia Msibi has never heard of the party but she is the first person Legofe signs up. “Her promises are not just pie in the sky. She was talking about things that affect me and she was genuine. I believe her, especially about the fact that we should start rebuilding our own country.
“I come from the apartheid era and it was always made to seem like it was only the ANC that fought to rebuild this country, but it was all of us, and now we can do that again,” Msibi says.
The Orlando resident adds that she is “tired of the political parties that exist” and wants something new, something different.
But young Promise Ndlovu isn’t as easily convinced. “You say all these good things like everyone else but I can only start believing when I see the results. It’s painful when you are made an idiot, with political parties promising you everything and you buy into it.
“After you have voted for them, they disappear. You are, like, ‘Where is that guy that told me the party would offer us jobs?’, but he’s gone and has a position somewhere else,” Ndlovu says.
Her friends, all of whom are in their 20s and have children to feed but no job prospects, agree.
Many people in Orlando West are out washing their cars as the day begins to warm up.
A staunch ANC member tells Legofe in no uncertain terms to leave him alone.
“You can’t tell me that I shouldn’t put an X next to [President Jacob] Zuma’s name. That is my party and I will always vote for them,” says an elderly man, winding up the window of his gleaming grey Amarok.
Determined, Legofe moves on to the next home, her passion and zeal unshaken.
An elderly woman doesn’t pause while digging out grass in her front garden as Legofe eagerly explains why her party is the best choice.
“Mama, we can’t have the mess we see in Parliament and leaders acting like children, finger-pointing and calling each other names. We must get our Parliament’s integrity back,” she tells the woman.
After a while, the woman stops her digging, leans on her spade and takes a pamphlet. Legofe is confident she has won over another member.
In high spirits, she heads back home to regroup with her team and wrap up the day.
“I have tried numerous other parties and organisations, like the Orlando West Residents’ Association and the Economic Freedom Fighters. But they did not really speak to me, or listen to what I wanted to do in my society,” Legofe says.
“I don’t want to be part of the youth that is left behind or will not participate. Bacs is a solutions-driven party, which will bring people from all walks of life together to build our country. And who doesn’t want that?”