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22 Apr 2009 11:45
From new visions to coalitions, some of the country’s smaller parties just might snatch more than a few votes from the larger ones. Nosimilo Ndlovu finds out what they are all about
Women Forward (WF) is a political party dedicated to advancing the voice of all South African women.
Nana Ngobese-Nxumalo, who started WF on February 2 2008, believes power lies in the cultivating and gentle nature of women.
“Right now the political arena is dominated by men and that’s not healthy,” says Ngobese-Nxumalo, a gender activist and mother of four. “The very same psyche that says women are not meant to lead parties trickles down to community level and affects the way women see themselves.”
Ngobese-Nxumalo believes women could neutralise the political language often used by the likes of Julius Malema. “Right now it’s a boys’ club; the language is boys’ language. Women can reduce the aggression; women come looking for peace and harmony.”
WF, which boasts 10 000 members, brings a softer, mothering approach to politics, using what its members believe are women’s natural skills as their main tool to govern and address issues such as poverty, corruption, health and education, equal distribution of resources, the creation of opportunities to maximise growth for all, end political uncertainty and deal with violence against women and children.
New Vision Party
The New Vision Party (NVP) was started in September 2007 by dissatisfied councillors, who left the United Independent Front (UIF). During floor-crossing that year the councillors approached then leader of the UIF, Ike Kekana, to become the leader of NVP.
With 22 years’ experience as a journalist at the SABC, Kekana is outspoken and passionate about the need for a strong opposition. He says the abolition of the Scorpions and the release of Schabir Shaik are signs that we are heading in the same direction as Zimbabwe. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely, the same party that started this Constitution is vomiting on the Constitution,” he says.
With 127 branches in Limpopo, the NVP has most of its support in the widely contested province, but also has 14 branches in Gauteng and 15 in the Eastern Cape.
Kekana says he doesn’t believe there are huge differences between the NVP and other opposition parties.
“We need to come together and form a strong opposition,” he says. “As long as the official opposition is a white party, the ANC will never take it seriously.”
Kekana has strongly criticised the ANC over various issues, saying the ruling party is confusing its internal matters with those of government and warning that “elevating the party above the state is a recipe for anarchy”.
Keep it Straight and Simple Party
The Keep it Straight and Simple Party (Kiss) consists of a single member, Claire Gaiford, who started it in January 1994.
“People always ask me how do I join and I tell them you don’t have to join, just vote,” she says. “I was looking at the politics of the country and I thought to myself, well, one more fool won’t make a difference.”
She asked her daughter to type a constitution, then put on some red lipstick and pressed her lips to the paper and KISS was born.
Passionate about the economy and politics, Gaiford believes a lot of government weight needs to be shed for the system to work more productively.
“Government is too big and it cannot work. It is difficult to control, there is too much mismanagement and everyone is encouraged to take care of only his or her own little constituency. This is not a working democracy; we have a self-contained communist government.”
Gaiford believes the most important issues are increasing the strength of the rand and creating jobs. “Money buys freedom of choice,” she says, adding that she had a choice to start a party because her mother left her money, which liberated her.
The Ximoko Party was founded in 1998 after the Ximoko Progressive Party and Ximoko Democratic Party were disbanded. Initially the party was established as the Ximoko Cultural Organisation, which aimed to stand as the political representative of the Tsonga community.
The party is based in Limpopo where it will contest provincial elections this year. Party leader Alfred Mabunda said the party has had financial difficulties so it was unable to raise enough funds to register for the national elections.
Mabunda is a former director of the department of transport in Limpopo, where he served until 1998, when Ximoko was started. He said he was not impressed by any of the existing parties, which led him to decide to help start a new party which would encourage a multi-party state. “If one party dominates then we are headed for problems, because the danger of a one-party state is that it leads to dictatorship.”
Ximoko has 20 000 members in Limpopo. Mabunda said the party sees the provincial leadership as an important part of the country’s development and change. He believes provinces should be given more powers and be made more independent from the national government.
African People’s Convention
The African People’s Convention (APC) was started in September 2007. Party leader Themba Godi was a long-time member and deputy president of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania from 1984 to 2007, when he left to join the APC.
“We decided to start this party because there was a void and lack of balance in the politics of the country. There was no viable, credible, progressive political party,” says Godi.
APC prides itself on being the biggest leftist party contesting this year’s national and provincial elections. With more than 100 000 members, the party will field candidates in all nine provinces, though its biggest support bases are in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Free State and the Eastern Cape.
Godi says the main objectives of the party are to insure that democracy works for all and the promise of freedom is not a dream perpetually deferred for the majority of people in South Africa. He says the country’s development has enriched a few at the expense of many.
“We are going to the most remote areas of the country and working with people, listening to their concerns and bringing about change in their lives,” says Godi.
The A Party was founded in June 2008 and gets its name from Mr A, or Anthony Penderis, a former editor at Al Nisr Media, a publishing house in the Gulf.
“South Africa should be the most prosperous country in Africa, but the country is currently falling apart at the seams,” he says. “Our health and education systems are in trouble, crime and corruption is on the rise. South Africa needs to be run like a well-managed business.”
The A Party, which was one of the first to bring up the issue of the expat vote, hopes to win a few seats in Parliament. “You need 40 000 votes to get a seat in Parliament and I believe we will get more than that, earning us more than one seat.”
The party is made up of a coalition of nine small parties, including Afrika Borwa Kgutlisa Botho, Ahanang People’s Organisation, Azanian Native Socialist Congress, Conservative Party, Dabalorivhuwa Patriotic Front, Freedom Power, Khoisan United Front and the United Citizen Forum of South Africa.
Penderis says the main aim of the coalition is to show it has a plan and it can deliver. “In politics it is important to get people to trust and believe in you and to show you can make things happen.”
What happens if I lose my ID before election day?
You have to apply for a temporary ID, which should be issued on the same day you make an application.
What happens if I move away from where I registered, either permanently or temporarily?
If you have moved permanently then it is advisable to re-register in the new voting district.
If you are out of your voting district temporarily then you can vote at the nearest voting station on election day. You will have to show proof of registration (sticker in the ID), give an affidavit and a fingerprint. If you are in the province you are registered in you will get a national and provincial ballot paper. If you are outside this province you will get only a national ballot paper.
What if I haven’t registered?
It’s too late now. You’ll have to wait for the next election.
What happens if I feel intimidated while at the voting station? Who can I report this to?
Voters who feel intimidated at the voting station should report the incident to the police at the voting station, who will advise them what to do.
What if I voted in the last election but haven’t registered this time?
You only need to re-register if you have changed your address or personal details, or if your voting district has changed.
What time do the polling stations open and close?
They open at 7am and close at 7pm.
When are the elections?
Wednesday April 22 2009
Is election day a public holiday?
Are there going to be toilet facilities at the polling stations?
Where polling stations are inside permanent structures such as a school hall, the public will have access to the facilities in the building. Where polling stations have been set up in temporary tents, portable toilets will be provided.
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