South Africa

Young political parties are winning hearts … and money

Young political parties

The funding of small parties, like Rise Mzansi, Build One South Africa and newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe, may have a palpable effect on larger parties as they grow stronger.

With national elections approaching, these smaller parties have managed to mobilise themselves on the ground. They have not only been seen campaigning in their particular provinces, but across the country.

Their energy had the potential to attract funders

Political analyst Levy Ndou said their energy had the potential to attract funders.

“Funders would also support a party which had an ideology or a programme that would, at the end of the day, benefit them.

“It can be monetary or ideological. It can be in the best interest of everybody, as long as they see value.”

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Ndou said it was tricky to predict their potential success because, although new parties would be formed and people would attend their functions, they might still not pull in the votes.

All depends on the response of the voters

It all depended on the response of the voters themselves.

“We saw what happened in the 2019 elections,” he said. “The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa was formed, led by Irvin Jim, as a political party and people were convinced it had a good following, but it did not get a single seat.

“Hlaudi Motsoeneng formed a party which did not get a single seat in parliament. All of us thought Andile Mngxitama’s party, Black First Land First would have representation in parliament and it also did not.”

On whether funding might determine the outcome of the elections, Ndou said it would depend on whether funders shifted allegiance to the new parties.

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“New parties have an impact because their existence affects the standing of the older political parties,” he said.

Important to talk to people directly

Rise Mzansi party leader and presidential candidate Songezo Zibi said it was important to talk to people directly.

“What we decided to do from the beginning was not to rely on social media, big events, but to rather focus on doing street-bystreet and door-to-door interactions every day.

“So, our model is to have organisers [who] manage about 100 volunteers, people who support what we do.

“People are angry with political parties. Most don’t vote. You can’t convince them if you just have one big event, give a speech and move on. You do not know how many of those 500 people were convinced.

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“You have to do the work, doing door-to-door, going to taxi ranks, taverns, spaza shops – I’ve done it myselfm” Zibi said.

“Whenever we were posting, working with our people, going to informal settlements, talking to people, they would laugh and say we are a spaza shop.

“But we knew what we were doing and that’s how we are able to grow so fast.”

Not easy to mobilise and expose the party

Zibi said it was not easy to mobilise and expose the party.

“Political parties don’t use money well. They waste it. And when we use it well, by spending it on posters and T-shirts, they say, you have too much money.”

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He said the majority of the party’s donors were professionals and while there were good donors in SA, some were unknown because they had not funded a political party before.

“We have bundlers. A bundler is a person who can mobilise people to give small donations, like R1 000 or R5 000.

“Then, a smaller number have more successful businesses. They are able to give a bit more, like R80 000, R100 000 and some a million. Those take longer to give you money because you don’t have a track record but some end up convinced.

“Our members use their own money to assist.

“That is how we fundraised.”