Words by Robyn Frost
Photography by Siyabonga Mkhasibe, Siphelo Tototo and Leon Tshiza
While you may think that politics can be compared to the recent toilet wars in Cape Town – generally full of s*&t – this year’s election is bound to be more interesting than most with three new parties shaking up the political sphere.
We call them the New Kids on the Block! Do you think they’ve got the right stuff….
AGANG: Building a New South Africa?
Agang SA, which was absorbed into the DA on Tuesday 27 January 2014 – no wait, it wasn’t actually – but it’s leader will be the DA’s presidential candidate…no, that’s not happening either. Eish. OK…Agang SA was the first of the new parties to emerge last year, led by the internationally-respected Dr Mamphela Ramphele. Well-known for being the mother of two children of slain apartheid hero, Steve Biko and for kissing Helen Zille at their infamous press conference the morning she became the DA’s nothing-at-all, she has also served as the Vice Chancellor of UCT and was selected as one of four managing directors at the World Bank in the year 2000.
Worth over R55 million (she voluntarily declared her assets in June 2013), this doctor turned businesswoman has a house in Camps Bay, a great career and money – things that are a dream for many South Africans. Given all that, it’s not surprising that the youth may feel disconnected from her.
In a recent interview with News24, Ramphele insisted that: “being comfortable or having a measure of wealth is not a barrier to linking with poor people. What is a barrier is the abuse of power and stealing from poor people as government has done consistently”.
Agang, which means “to build” in Sesotho, aims to create a county of our dreams. Half of the country’s youth are without jobs. Agang says the government has robbed young people of their rightful future by managing the education system inefficiently. They added that 20 years is too long to wait for decent jobs, quality education and health care.
To make government accountable
Invest in massive infrastructure and at the same time create jobs
Cut red tape associated with starting new businesses
Convert some public schools into vocational schools so SA’s youth have access to the education they need to be successful in the workforce
Establish skills development programmes
Fund on-the-job training for young South Africans struggling to enter the workforce
ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS: Seeing red already?
If Agang appears moderate, enter the Red Berets, led by firebrand Julius Malema. He shot to political fame as ANCYL leader in 2008 but was ousted five years later due to hate speech, tax evasion, recent fraud charges and general misbehavior. In mid- 2013, Malema founded his own party, The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The men in red berets (Juju’s signature look) are focusing on the rights of the poor unemployed black youth, without much mention of anyone else. Juju says the red berets signify the blood of South Africans that was shed during apartheid and continues to be shed in the peoples’ fight for economic emancipation. He talks about fights like the Marikana massacre, but doesn’t offer solutions to how emancipation will be won.
So what’s the EFF-ing idea?
EFF claims to bring together “revolutionary, fearless, radical and militant activists to achieve economic freedom”. Their stated agenda includes:
Free education up to undergraduate level
Free housing, sanitation and health care
Open and accountable corruption-free government
Speaking of corruption and accountability, Malema is still facing corruption charges stemming from claims that he manipulated government tenders in Limpopo, and he reportedly owes the tax man R16 million. With his case continuing into 2014, JuJu will have this hanging over his head during the campaign. The party claims to be a today’s version of The Black Consciousness Movement, but we wonder what the original founder Steve Biko (Dr Ramphele’s baby daddy!) would think of Juju claiming that throne.
PATRIOTIC ALLIANCE: Gangsters in the House?
When Agang (that’s pronounced Ah-ghang, not a gang) was launched, it was still safe to say that there would be no gangsters in government. That was until the launch of the Patriotic Alliance, which is led by a convicted fraudster-turned-businessman, Gayton Mckenzie, and previous EFF member and sushi king, Kenny Kunene. The party’s (controversial) leadership also includes members from the Ses-en-twintig gang, the most notable being convicted gang leader, Rashid Staggie.
No, we are not having you on. According to PA’s Mckenzie, “A coloured person who still votes for the DA has an indescribable love of kissing white arse.”
Check out (not in a dirty way) the Patritoic Alliance on Twitter!
With 19 new parties hoping for seats in parliament, the fruits of their campaigns will only be seen at the polls. But one thing is for sure, the newcomers will challenge both the ANC and the DA. “The potential for these parties to make an impact is there,” says Zwelethu Jolobe, political science lecturer at the University of Cape Town, referring to Agang and the EFF. What do we say? Prepare for a political showdown.