It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa at the party's policy conference. (AFP File)
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increasing talk about the possibility of a new party forming in the event of a
Zuma faction victory at the ANC Electoral Conference in December. For many this
possibility remains the only light at the end of the dark political tunnel of late. But would
it really be a positive turn of events?
new party is not for the faint-hearted. It is tough and many have failed in
trying to do so. It is particularly difficult when one big party like the ANC
dominates the political landscape. For such a new party to make an impact it would
need huge popular support which would in turn require high profile and popular
question is therefore whether, if he fails in his bid for the presidency, Cyril
Ramaphosa would be willing to lead such a party. Ramaphosa has the credibility,
gravitas and popularity to pull other big names into such a party. He might
even be able to convince our former public protector, Thuli Madonsela to come
back from America to join him on the
ticket. What a
winning team that would be!
would also gain massive public support. As a caller to a radio station this
week said: “With that smile, he is a magnet for votes.”
order to gain significant public support as well as organisational capacity, this
new party would also have to get some form of cooperation and support from both
the SACP and Cosatu. Given the SACP’s declaration after their national
conference last week it seems likely that they will either join such a party
during the election campaign or at least be willing to form an alliance after
the elections. Since Cosatu is also opposed to the shenanigans of the Zuma
faction, they would most probably follow suit.
political party also needs a lot of money, especially to run an election
campaign. The ANC for example spent over R1 billion during the local government
election campaign last year. Presumably Ramaphosa would be able to access big
money in the business world and like all parties (including the EFF), he would not
have too many objections to accepting funds from the so-called white monopoly
such a party be able to make an impact in the 2019 elections?
important to note that there would only be about 16 months between the ANC
electoral conference and April 2019. (One can be fairly certain that the ANC
would call the election as early as possible to prevent such a party from
getting too much traction). Although sixteen months is extremely short to mount
a large scale campaign it can be done. Cope for example were able to gain 7.42%
of the vote in 2009, only four months after they were formed. The EFF gained
6.35% or 25 seats in the 2014 elections, less than 10 months after its launch.
some analysts argue that there is a ceiling for the support of a new political
party, a Ramaphosa-led party could possible gain more traction and enough to
push the ANC below the 50% mark. Although people tend to vote differently in
national elections, it is important to remember that the ANC only received 54%
support during the recent local government election. A further loss of just 5%
would push them below 50%. However, in order to be able to govern, such a new
party would have to do some serious horse trading with the other bigger parties.
The DA has
made it clear that they want to increase their support to 30%. A party led by
Ramaphosa might, however, pull support away from the DA with many disaffected
ANC supporters preferring to support the new party.
for the sake of the argument accept that Maimane reaches his target of 30%. The
EFF might also increase their support slightly,
let’s say to about 8%. If the IFP and UDM remain, they will jointly have about
3.5% of the vote.
assuming that the new party together with the SACP and Cosatu can get about 10%
support and all these parties agree to form an alliance they can claim just
over 51% of the vote and thus form a government. It would be tight, but it is
possible. This is the reason why some in the ANC are
very concerned about the formation of such a new party.
one cannot assume that Ramaphosa would automatically
be president if all of this comes to pass, since the new party is most unlikely
to receive more votes than the DA. Hopefully, despite having more seats the DA
would agree, for the greater good, to accept someone like Ramaphosa in exchange
for other senior cabinet positions.
this is a positive scenario, it would also involve some risks for the country.
For example: If such a party is formed, those who wanted to join it would have
to leave the ANC and in case of ANC MPs, resign their seats.
the “good” people leaving the ANC, it would give the Zuma faction carte blanche
to pursue their own agenda. Simply put: The brakes in the ANC would be gone. One
shudders to think what the implications of that would be.
It is also questionable
whether such a minority government would be accepted by many in the ANC. If
not, it could lead to serious violence and instability.
coalition could also make the government extremely unstable. Alliances,
especially if they involve many partners, are notoriously hard to manage and
keep together. The DA, EFF and former ANC members in the new party would have
very different ideological positions and it would certainly take maturity on
all sides and all the skills of someone like Ramaphosa to keep it all together.
certainly too early to assume a defeat for Ramaphosa at the end of year.
However, if it happens I hope that Ramaphosa will show the strength of
character to not just leave the ANC, but lead the millions of people in this
country who would be looking for a new political home.
- Melanie Verwoerd is a former ANC MP and South African Ambassador to Ireland. Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.* Only comments that contribute to a constructive debate will be approved by moderators.
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