March 8, 2011

Whose got your vote South Africa??

This past weekend was the last time that South Africans were able to register to vote for the up and coming 2011 elections. I am a little ashamed to say this, but it was my first time too. BUT at least I got off my lazy bum and headed to my local voting station which was at Norscot Manor in Douglasdale, ID book in hand to get my name down :)

So now what?!
Who is running? Who has the best campaign? Who will you be voting for?
I've done a little research and thought I'd give a little help to those who, like me, are a bit overwhelmed/confused/unsure/don't know enough and especially those who just couldn't care less, this is for you...

**the following information was all I could find on the parties represented in the National Assembly of Parliament. Thanks to for all the, uhh, info**

"The African National Congress (ANC) is the majority party, with 264 of the 400 National Assembly seats. The party also controls eight of the country's nine provinces, with the exception of the Western Cape, where the Democratic Alliance won the majority in the 2009 elections. The ANC also controls five of the six metropolitan municipalities. Nonetheless, South Africa's opposition parties remain robust and vocal.

South Africa's Parliament is made up of two houses: the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The National Assembly is the more influential, passing legislation and overseeing executive performance. Its members are elected for a term of five years.

All South African citizens over the age of 18 eligible to vote, if they register to do so. So far, South Africa has had fully inclusive democratic elections in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009. Before 1994, only white South Africans were allowed to vote for the national government.

Here's a quick summary of the history and policies of South Africa's major political parties – including one not officially represented in Parliament, and one that no longer exists but is important historically.

For a list of all South African political parties registered with the Independent Electoral Commission, visit the IEC website.

African National Congress (ANC)

  • 264 seats in the National Assembly
  • Website

The South African Native National Congress was founded in 1912 with the aim of bringing Africans together to defend their rights and fight for freedom. In 1923 its name was changed to the African National Congress (ANC).

ANC policy is to increase economic growth and reduce poverty. The Freedom Charter remains the party's basic policy document. Adopted in June 1955 by the ANC and its allies, the charter lists principles upon which a democratic South Africa should be built.
In 1994 the ANC adopted the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) as a policy framework to guide it in transforming South Africa from a divided society to one that provides equal opportunities for all its citizens. The four main principles of the RDP are:

  • meeting the people's basic needs, such as housing, water and electricity;
  • developing the country's human resources;
  • building the economy; and
  • democratising state institutions and society.

Democratic Alliance (DA)

  • 67 seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
South Africa's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, formerly known as the Democratic Party (DP), espouses liberal democracy and free market principles. 

In the 1980s the party increased its Parliamentary seats to seven. Among the new MPs was Tony Leon, who became DP leader in 1996, introducing a more aggressive approach to opposition politics.

In 2000 the DP joined forces with the New Nationalist Party to form the Democratic Alliance (DA). But the NNP withdrew from the pact in late 2001, and was disbanded in 2004. Leon resigned as party head in 2007, to be replaced by Helen Zille.

The DA seeks to promote:
  • a prosperous, open-opportunity society in which every person is free and equal before the law;
  • a spirit of mutual respect, inclusivity and participation among the diverse people of South Africa;
  • a free enterprise economy driven by choices, risks and hard work; and
  • a vigorous, critical and effective opposition that is loyal to the constitutional order and promotes the well-being of the country.

Congress of the People (Cope)

  • 30 seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
The Congress of the People (Cope) is a new party that contested its first in April 2009, winning 7.42% of the vote. It was formed by breakaway ANC members dissatisfied with that organisation's decision to "recall" then-President Thabo Mbeki in September 2008 and replace him with Kgalema Motlanthe.

Cope was launched in at the November Convention held in Johannesburg in 2008. Its prominent founding members include Mosiuoa Lekota, the former minister of defence who resigned from the Cabinet after Mbeki stepped down, as well as former Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa, former Congress of South African Trade Unions president Willie Madisha, and Barney Pityana, the vice-chancellor and principal of the University of South Africa.

At the November Convention, Cope adopted the following principles in its declaration:
  • Supremacy of the Constitution.
  • Building social cohesion based on values we can all defend.
  • Freedom and equality before the law.
  • Participatory democracy.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)

  • 18 seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, draws its support largely from Zulu-speaking South Africans. Its strongholds are the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the migrant workers' hostels in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng.

The IFP supports the government's Gear macroeconomic strategy, but argues that it has been introduced in too tentative and piecemeal a manner. The party argues for revitalising the economy through a "re-prioritisation" of economic policy, based on four pillars:
  • attracting increased levels of direct fixed investment;
  • facilitating the competitive development of business in South Africa;
  • managing the high expectations and demand for social delivery; and
  • introducing more cost-effective fiscal management in government.
The IFP also believes in integrating traditional leadership into the system of governance by recognising traditional communities as models of societal organisation. Buthelezi heads KwaZulu-Natal's House of Traditional Leaders, which advises the government on issues relating to traditional leaders.

Independent Democrats (ID)

  • Four seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
The Independent Democrats (ID) is one of South Africa's newest mainstream political party, formed in March 2003 under the leadership of Patricia de Lille. De Lille is a former trade unionist and a long-time member of and MP for the Pan Africanist Congress, which she left to form the ID.

De Lille has gained massive support for her forthright stand against corruption. A 2004 survey revealed her to be South Africa's favourite opposition politician.

With the motto "Back to Basics", the ID's policies are fairly centrist. The party is at one with the ANC on the economy, health and jobs, although De Lille outspokenly differed with the ANC's earlier policies on HIV/Aids.

In the 2004 survey, De Lille was found to be the most trusted politician among coloured voters and was second favourite in the white and Indian communities. The ID is seen to have attracted former DA supporters, people disillusioned with that party's ill-fated alliance with the NNP.

United Democratic Movement (UDM)

  • Four seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) was formed in 1997 by Bantu Holomisa, who was expelled from the ANC after accusing a top party official of corruption. 

The UDM sees itself as a contender for power with the ANC. Holomisa says his party is aiming to become an alternative government. His party campaigns around issues which it believes the government is handling badly.

Freedom Front Plus (FF+)

  • Four seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
The Freedom Front was formed in 1993 by Constand Viljoen, the former chief of the South African Defence Force. Viljoen came out of retirement to lead a group of Afrikaners who wanted to form a political party.

As head of the Afrikaner Volksfront, Viljoen was instrumental in convincing conservative Afrikaners to participate in the new dispensation, through which, he argued, the issue of self determination should be taken up.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)

  • Three seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) was formed in December 1993 with the aim of representing South African Christians in Parliament. It won two National Assembly seats in 1994 and six in 1999.

The ACDP was the only party in the National Assembly that voted against the adoption of the Constitution in 1994, citing moral and Biblical objections to some of the document's clauses – particularly the rights of gays and lesbians.

According to its manifesto, the ACDP stands for "Christian principles, freedom of religion, a free market economy, family values, community empowerment and human rights in a federal system".

United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP)

  • Three seats in the National Assembly
  • Website
The United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) was formed by Lucas Mangope, head of the apartheid-era "homeland" of Bophuthatswana. Mangope was among the first homeland leaders to accept so-called independence for his scattered country for the Setswana-speaking people. The UCDP was the only party allowed to operate in the territories under his control.

Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)

  • One seat in the National Assembly
  • Website
The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) was formed in 1959 as a breakaway from the ANC. Influenced by the Africanist ideals of Kwame Nkrumah, it promotes the return of the land to the indigenous people.

The party's support has been steadily eroded since 1994, with voters favouring the ANC. A major blow was the 2003 defection of PAC MP Patricia de Lille to form her own party, the Independent Democrats. 

Minority Front (MF)

  • One seat in the National Assembly
  • Website
The Minority Front, led by the maverick Amichand Rajbansi, says it represents the interests of the Indian community. Apart from its two seats in the National Assembly, the party is also represented in the Durban metropolitan council.

Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo)

  • One seat in the National Assembly
  • Website
The Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) preaches the philosophy of black emancipation and black consciousness, a philosophy popularised by Steve Biko, who was killed in police cells in 1977.

African People's Convention (APC)

  • One seat in the National Assembly
  • Website
The African People's Convention was created out of the 2007 defection of two prominent PAC members of parliament. It was the only party created by the since abolished practice known as "floor-crossing" to contest the 2009 elections.

South African Communist Party (SACP)

The South African Communist Party (SACP) is not officially represented in Parliament, but a number of its members occupy seats by virtue of their dual ANC membership.

Formed in 1921, the Communist Party of South Africa was predominantly white, but later on attracted black intellectuals, who in turn recruited black workers into its ranks. In 1946, one of its leading members, JB Marks, led 100 000 black miners in a strike that contributed to the party's banning in 1950.

The SACP has had a close working relationship with the ANC since the 1960s, when anti-apartheid organisations were forced to operate from exile. Members of both organisations held dual membership and served in the structures of both bodies.

The party's membership overlaps with those of the ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), its partners in what is known as the tripartite alliance. It has significant representation in the ANC and government, from the executive down to local government structures.

The party believes in the establishment of a socialist society, which it says should be characterised by democracy, equality, freedom, and the socialisation of the predominant part of the economy.

New National Party (NNP)

The New National Party (NNP), formerly the Nationalist Party, ruled South Africa for the over 40 years of the apartheid era, from 1948 to 1994. The second-largest party after the country's first democratic elections in 1994, its voter base abandoned it in large numbers thereafter.

In the 1994 elections the NNP, led by FW de Klerk, gained 20% of the vote, making it the official opposition to the ANC government. It also won a majority of votes in the Western Cape province, giving it control of the provincial legislature.

After suffering heavy losses in the 1999 elections, the NNP joined forces with the DP and the Federal Alliance to form the Democratic Alliance in July 2000, making the NNP and DP the ruling coalition in the Western Cape.

Just over a year later, in October 2001, the NNP withdrew from the Democratic Alliance, throwing Western Cape politics into turmoil.

In August 2004 the NNP's national executive took a unanimous decision to disband the party. Most of its former representatives went on to join the ANC."

Thanks again to SAinfo for all of the above!

**So, after all of that, who will you vote for on the 18th May?**

For all those South Africans who will be overseas for the voting, I'll try my best to find out if you are still able to vote even though you may be out of the country :)

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