One SA Movement (OSA) leader Mmusi Maimane maintains that he has not lost steam on his journey to create a formidable political movement as he continues preparations to identify and train independent candidates in communities across the country.
Maimane made a bold move in 2019 when he decided to bow out as a member and the leader of the DA. However, unlike his colleague, former DA councillor Herman Mashaba – who is now the leader of ActionSA – Maimane took time to figure out his next political move.
He then formed the Movement for One SA (Mosa), which would later lead to the formation of OSA.
Mosa was envisaged as a platform for individuals, civil society, NGOs, religious bodies and smaller political parties, much as the United Democratic Front was in the 1980s.
Maimane claims to be inundated with requests from individuals and groups wanting to join him in building the political movement.
“It’s [easy enough] to form a political party, but if you want to change a country, you have to be willing to deal with people on the ground,” he says.
Maimane believes that dealing directly with community members is key to ensuring that they are represented by the best candidates. That is why OSA plans to work with independent candidates who have been chosen by ordinary citizens, rather than by political parties.
“One SA is a grassroots movement set up to allow our communities to elect people who come from those same communities, and who can represent them and stand as independent candidates. In working with a community, once we identify a candidate from there who can represent it, we’ll train them and help them in the election, so direct democracy can be effected,” he says. The kind of individuals who will be able to work with Maimane are those who share the same values and principles as the organisation. They need not be politicians.
“Part of the training we want to give them is teaching them about the law and campaigning because, many times, you get an independent candidate who doesn’t know how to campaign,” says Maimane.
OSA candidates will be expected to participate in the upcoming local elections, which Maimane believes should go ahead despite the Covid-19 health emergency.
“It’s illegal to delay elections. The Constitution states that a term in office lasts for five years. Communities are frustrated with political parties, so if you want them to go and set the streets on fire, do that [delay elections],” he says.
He notes that several countries have gone ahead with elections in this period, and South Africa should be no exception.
“In America, at the height of the Covid-19 second wave, more than 150 million people cast their votes. South Africa has a much smaller population than that. Malawi held its elections last year and Uganda held its elections this year. It would be unconstitutional and illegal to say that, in the name of Covid-19, our elections should be postponed to 2024.”
The EFF and the ANC, however, have been on the same page regarding the local government elections, which both parties want to be put on the back burner.
EFF leader Julius Malema says voting would be risky, as elections can be regarded as superspreaders of the virus.
Meanwhile, ActionSA has also questioned the call made by the EFF and the ANC, saying a postponement of the elections would generate a constitutional crisis for municipal governments, forcing them to operate “without the mandate they require from South Africans”.
The local elections are set to take place between August and November, as the term of office of South Africa’s councils comes to an end during that period.
Maimane says his decision not to start a conventional political party was based on a number of factors, including the way candidates are elected.
“There are many political parties in this country and the majority of the people don’t bother showing up to vote because they’re not inspired by the list of available options. We don’t need political parties because, at the end of the day, what they do is elect their people and then place them in the community. So the community members don’t really have a say about who [they are]. The consequence is that, if the candidate doesn’t work for the people, you end up in a situation where there’s no accountability,” he says.