/ 2 November 2008

Shikota announces launch of new party

The Shikota movement on Saturday declared its intention to launch a new political party that will rival the African National Congress at the polls during the 2009 elections.

The movement decided this at the conclusion of its national convention, which drew to a close on Saturday night in Sandton. The face of Shikota, Mbhazima Shilowa, announced this to the delegates who attended the convention.

The convention also passed its declaration vowing to lobby for electoral reform that will allow for citizens to choose their own mayors, premiers and national president.

Due to the court proceedings lodged in the Pretoria High Court on Friday, the declaration steered clear of any suggestions for a name for the movement. The leaders want to consult with communities again on whether South African National Congress (SANC) should be the official name for the party. The delegates, however, insisted that an interim name must be registered by Monday.

The declaration focused on four themes: supremacy of the Constitution, building social cohesion, freedom and equality before the law, and participatory democracy.

”We believe organised citizens should be able to take direct responsibility for some of their concerns and to exercise effective oversight over the leaders they choose at elections,” the declaration reads.

It also asks for the ”regular refreshing” of the mandate of political representatives and that all public representatives must be elected directly to improve public accountability.

It mandates the organisers of the convention ”to continue to engage with the people of South Africa” to find ways to defend democracy and to build social cohesion.

”Democracy must mean more than just voting once in five years, it must include participation in economic life, in security of our people from crime, joblessness, poverty, lack of education and diseases, especially HIV/Aids.”

The declaration seeks to mobilise South Africans to defend the Constitution and democracy. It also wants to ensure freedom and equality before the law and ”reject strongly the implied threat to rule of law in the behaviour and actions of certain political players in our country”.

”We therefore resolve to defend the right of equality before the law and to defend the right to freedom of association, of free speech and free political activity,” the declaration reads, mindful of the disruption that meetings of the Shikota movement faced during the past few weeks.

The convention finished its business at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday night after 6 300 delegates arrived to attend — far greater than the 4 000 that were initially expected.

Speaking on behalf of business, the CEO of Barnard Jacobs Mellet Securities, Andile Mazwai, challenged Shikota to not only point out to the nation what is not working, but to also say how their policies would make it work.

The South African National Civic Organisation, which used to be an ally of the ANC, pledged its resources across the country to help mobilise for the new party. Its president, Mlungisi Hlongwane, said all people that want to be involved in the new political formation should ensure that it’s not hijacked and turned into an elitist party.

A United Christian Democratic Party representative, Sipho Mfundisi, had a few tips for the new party that will be formed on December 16: love people, respect people, render services to the people, consult people and be tolerant to different views.