Johannesburg - South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says more than 500 parties will contest in the 2019 general elections.
The organisation’s Chief Electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, confirmed the figure, saying thus far about 15 new political parties have registered, bringing the total number of parties to contest the polls to 500.
“We now have over 500 political parties and we are processing a number of new political parties that are coming on board per week. We have registered about 15 political parties or so,” said Mamagolo.
Regarding preparations for next year’s elections, Mamabolo said his organisation was working tirelessly to ensure everything is in order.
“As regards to readiness, we have put together plans for 2019; we are beginning the process to implement those plans,” he added.
Meanwhile, political analyst Bernard Musori says the number of political parties registering with IEC does not reflect on the real state of affairs when election time comes.
“This is more of a culture within some individuals and kangaroo groups to want to test their stamina through registering to participate in elections. Most of them will not be serious and will never campaign,” said Musori.
“We are in a democracy and nothing can really be done but I feel IEC should reject some of them. They are just wasting time, resources and congesting logistical systems in the organisation. You find someone registering to contest when he cannot even vote for himself,” added Musori.
Speaking on national television political analyst, Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, said it is not surprising that more new political parties are being formed and registered, as the country approaches the 2019 general elections.
“Well, we see it every election that every election seems to be like a light in the darkness, which attracts all manner of flying insects.
“New political parties emerge from the woods, so I am not surprised that we are seeing the emergence of new political parties. Many of them with very narrow visions intended to capture a local voting public rather than national voting public,” said Professor Maluleke.
An official from IEC, who spoke to The Southern Times on condition of anonymity, confirmed that some of the political parties lack seriousness and have a narrow political vision.
“They continue to come and we are registering them but some of them you can actually see that there is no vision at all. Sometimes it is being done for fun or for fulfilling personal pride,” she said.
President of Gazankulu Liberation Congress Party, Wilson Seseni, said his party was formed with a vision to address allegations of corruption in government, poor service delivery and nepotism. The name of the party has drawn criticism from some sectors accusing the new party of tribalism. The apartheid government used the name Gazankulu to classify the then homeland in which predominantly Xitsonga-speaking people were staying.
Seseni, however, says the name does not suggest that the party is regional.
“We are not going back there. The name was able to enjoy the majority in terms of reaction, but then as I say, we are a nationalist organisation which has got no element of tribalism whatsoever. Gazankulu, it’s just a name. It’s like when you say Inkatha. I don’t think the reason for tribalism can stand on this name honestly,” said Seseni.
South Africa will hold general elections next year to elect a new National Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province.
They will be the sixth elections held since the end of the apartheid era in 1994, and the second election held since the death of Nelson Mandela.
South Africans will also elect the next president. Incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa, the 5th President of South Africa, will lead the ruling African National Congress in the elections to retain majority status and a full term in office as president.
His predecessor, Jacob Zuma, resigned from office on 14 February 2018 and was already ineligible for a third term in office, as the South African Constitution limits a president to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.