Mmusi Maimane | How One South Africa Movement will support independent candidates

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One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane.
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane.
Jan Gerber, News24

Earlier this week Mmusi Maimane announced that his One South Africa Movement would support, train, endorse and campaign for independent candidates across the country. Here he answers FAQ about the process.


This week we had some exciting news to share with South Africans that has the potential to change our nation and its fortunes. 

The One South Africa Movement will be participating in this year’s local government elections as we support, train, endorse and campaign for independent candidates across the country.

These independents will be chosen by their communities, recognised leaders in their communities, and crucially not aligned to or part of any political party. This means they are chosen by the people and answerable only to the people – not to political party bosses and their funders.

READ | Mmusi Maimane's movement set to campaign for independent candidates in local elections

The people of South Africa are tired of political parties, their infighting, stealing, and downright dishonest behaviour. We all want something new and something different that takes power away from political parties and puts it back in our hands.

Since the announcement, my Facebook, Twitter and email have been flooded with thousands of questions and queries from citizens as to how this process will work and how can they get involved.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and confirms we are onto something truly unique and different.

I therefore wish to take this opportunity to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) by citizens.

How does a prospective independent candidate apply?

Each specific submission must complete an application form that can be found on our website at www.osa.org.za. Each application must include a list of signatures of voters – registered to vote in the specific ward - that support the particular candidate.

In addition, applicants must answer the following questions:

1.     What ward and what municipality will be contested?

2.     What is the name and surname of the proposed independent candidate?

3.     Why would this candidate be the best person to represent the ward as its councillor?

4.     What is the independent candidate’s campaign plan?

5.     What are the organisations or community groupings present in the ward that OSA could partner with in support of the independent candidate?

Submissions close on 1 March 2021.

What qualifications or level of training and experience does a candidate need to apply?

Part of OSA’s core offer is building by equipping individuals to become statesmen and stateswomen. Once selected, candidates will be trained in our School of Governance on how to be effective and accountable councillors who add serve their communities and add real value.

Therefore, candidates must be recognisable leaders in their community, have evidence of potential support and a plan for their community, espouse ethical leadership and be held in high esteem by members of their community.

What will OSA offer a successful applicant?

OSA will endorse these candidates and support them by equipping them with an enabling infrastructure, campaigning, training and access to tools that will help them win their respective elections. We have already built a force of activists on the ground, who are engaging citizens on a day-to-day basis, and we have a strong digital and media platform. Our objective is to help South Africans use their constitutional power to bring accountability. Once selected, candidates will be trained in our School of Governance on how to be effective and accountable statesmen and stateswomen.

Why do prospective independents require OSA to run for election?

Independent candidates have run and been elected in previous local government elections. However, the success rate of being elected has been low. This is due in part to a lack of resources, training, campaign support and capacity building. Therefore, OSA’s approach is brand new – an umbrella body that assists candidates and gives them a unique offering in order to win their election.

Will OSA back every single independent candidate?

OSA supports the concept of independent candidates. However, we will not be in a position to provide blanket support to independents across the country. That is why we will begin a process to identify the independent candidates and communities which we will support.

Who will fund these candidates?

While OSA will provide guidance and training on fundraising, candidates will be required to source their own funding for their campaign. We will encourage candidates to approach businesses, organisations and individuals within their communities.

If elected, what do independent candidates offer that is different to candidates from political parties?

Political parties select candidates and impose those candidates on communities. Those candidates are loyal to political parties first, above citizens. Whereas independents are loyal to the people who elect them. There is no middle man. Electing people who are not dictated to by any political party will strengthen accountability, bring decision-making closer to the people and guarantee the best, fit for purpose individuals represent us in government.

How will independent candidates be held accountable following their election?

We want to put an end to trickle down democracy and replace it with direct democracy. Community members know their candidate, where they live and can hold this person to account for their actions in government. There will be no political party machinery to hide behind. This cuts out the middle man between the people and their councillors in government. OSA will help communities hold elected independents accountable. And we will continue supporting independents once elected to account to and regularly communicate with community members

Won’t electing independent candidates split/dilute the opposition vote?

The people of South Africa desperately want an alternative and are rejecting the status quo. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that with each passing election, fewer South Africans chose not to exercise their constitutional right to vote. In the last national election, 19.7 million eligible voters chose not to vote as the current party-political system does not represent them.

Independent candidates can appeal to new voters who have tapped out of the system.

Can more than one OSA candidate apply in a ward?

Yes

What about the PR vote that independent candidates will lose?

OSA is not a political party and will not be on the PR ballot. We are focused on assisting individuals to get elected. Therefore, voters can vote for an independent candidate and choose the political party of their choice on the PR ballot.

Is there any possibility that independent candidates could become part of coalition governments?

Yes, there is. There are many municipalities across South Africa where no single political party holds the majority. This presents an opportunity for independent candidates to help form governments.

How exactly will OSA measure community support for candidates?

By signatures of support for a candidate and formal endorsements from community organisations.

Will OSA be working with any other organisations in supporting independent candidates?

Yes, OSA will be partnering with our affiliate organisations, as well as NGOs, community forums, ratepayers’ associations and other community-led groupings to identify, train and equip leaders. This is a bottom-up approach to governance, instead of a top-down approach used by political parties.

- Mmusi Maimane is Chief Activist of the One South Africa movement.


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