AIC or ANC? Unknown party to win Parliament seats

The African Independent Congress was a place above the ruling ANC on the ballot paper and has a logo with yellow, green and black colours. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The African Independent Congress was a place above the ruling ANC on the ballot paper and has a logo with yellow, green and black colours. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

How did a conservative, rural party that barely anyone one had heard of come to beat the hype of Agang SA, the history of Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and score two seats in Parliament to everyone’s surprise?

By calling itself the African Independent Congress (AIC), scoring itself a place above the ruling ANC on the ballot paper and using a logo featuring yellow, green and black.

According to a Beeld report on Thursday, “It is possible that some voters may have unintentionally voted for the AIC, thinking they were voting for the ANC ... An ANC official said a mistake was the only explanation for the AIC’s sudden success.”

The AIC had 0.54% votes of the 94% of voting stations that had been counted by 6.30am on Friday. Agang SA meanwhile was at 0.26% of the vote. This means they won 89 293 votes nationally, winning 18 000 votes from provinces like KwaZulu-Natal where they are not even registered for the provincial election.
The party is running on a relatively conservative platform, featuring a referendum on its website to “test the views of South Africans” on whether the legalisation of same sex marriage should be scrapped or not. 

But AIC deputy president Lulama Ntshayisa did not take kindly to suggestions that the party had not earned their support the traditional way. 

“They are just voting AIC, not ANC,” he told Kaya FM in an interview. 

Apparently the party has run into the same accusations previously when it ran for just the Eastern Cape in the 2009 elections and got a seat in the provincial legislature in that province. 

‘We stole their votes’
“They complained that we stole their votes then,” Ntshayisa said. “But this time they should have told their people that these are not the same. So I don’t believe that now.”

This time round the AIC decided to run nationally and in two provinces: it is based in the Eastern Cape with the addition of the Western Cape. 

“Because we don’t have enough money we only contested two provinces,” said Ntshayisa.

But while the party scored about 16 367 votes in the Eastern Cape and 6 195 in the Western Cape, its national share of the provincial vote was disproportional with 22 562 votes. On the national vote it won 89 293 votes. 

Ordinarily a party’s provincial results for the provincial election would not be so far off from its national total. The numbers may increase slightly when total votes are counted across the party.

The party described itself as a regional party “founded by the people of Matatiele and surrounding rural communities”, on its website. Yet this regional party managed to score two seats in Parliament, which is more than Agang SA is likely to get. 

Ntshayisa said the seats would be occupied by himself and party president Mandla Galo. The party is a strong proponent of “grassroots democracy”.

“We want to teach our people about the grassroots democracy,” Ntshayisa told Kaya FM. “The [country’s current] leadership now don’t care about the people down there.”

AIC ‘does not want to govern
According to the party’s website, the AIC says that it “does not want to govern” but rather advocates a more inclusive type of governance model where ordinary citizens voices are considered in the political-decision making process. The AIC says that it is also opposed to any notions of a one-party state where a “ruling party takes decisions affecting the whole nation at party conferences”.

The AIC will now get a say in that political-decision making process, perhaps a lot sooner than they expected.

Meanwhile, deputy president Lulama Ntshayisa told the South African Association Press at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria, “We were established in 2005, our people know us. To say we got ANC votes is to undermine our party ...

“We are not surprised at how we have performed nationally. We have people in all provinces.” 

He denied that voters could have confused the ANC with AIC.  – Additional reporting by sapa

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.  Read more from Verashni Pillay

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