Cape Town – Thirty-four political parties in the Western Cape will contest the May 8 elections and among them are new entrants that could potentially swing the balance of power in the province.
Since the first democratic elections in 1994, the ANC and defunct National Party and later the Democratic Party (DP), which morphed into the DA, were the only strong parties with a reasonable chance of ascending to the seat of power in Wale Street, but a couple of newbies could upset the apple cart come election day.
Contesting their first general elections will be the GOOD party headed by former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille; the Land Party led by activist Gcobani Ndzongana; the African Progressive Movement (APMo) headed by Dr Sebastian Petersen; former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s African Content Movement; the African Covenant party; the African Transformation Movement; and the Alliance for Transformation for All, representing the interests of hawkers and taxi commuters.
Professor Cherrel Africa of the political studies department at UWC said elections in the Western Cape would be highly contested, with the DA not guaranteed an outright majority.
“They might achieve it given current dominance, but it’s not guaranteed. Indeed, recent surveys and by-elections reveal that the DA could face declining support at the polls.
“This is due to a number of contributory factors. While not comparable to that of the DA, the ANC in the province has faced its own problems.
“On a governance level, the DA has been severely criticised for its management of the drought,” Africa said.
“In addition to other leadership issues, voters in the province are likely to have paid attention to the DA’s battle with Patricia de Lille.
“These challenges are exacerbated by its negative campaign approach evident in the #TheANCIsKillingSA billboard, the campaign against small parties and appeals to block an EFF/ANC coalition, which ring hollow given its own alliance with the EFF.”
GOOD party Western Cape Premier candidate De Lille has been campaigning fiercely, and says she is overwhelmed by support for the party.
The Land Party, consisting of former leaders from backyard dwellers, informal settlements and social housing activists, and its premier candidate, Loyiso Nkohla, is determined to derail the DA’s plans to retain the province. The party was formed after violent protest in Zwelihle, Hermanus, last year.
Meanwhile, Dr Sebastian Petersen, leader of APMo, believes that the party will do well and has it eye on at least five seats in the provincial legislature.
Africa emphasised that a window of opportunity had opened for other parties to capitalise on the disillusionment with DA. She added although a large number of new political parties had entered the race to compete in the May 2019 election, many were “peripheral parties” which would have no effect on the party system.
“The GOOD party has marketed itself as a centrist party and been visible on the campaign trail. It may draw votes away from the DA, but it will face questions about its track record and depth of organisational structures.
“The Land Party’s potential support base may opt to vote EFF.
“The ACDP, which has made it presence felt in the national assembly and at provincial level, may also draw votes away from the DA.
“This could affect the balance of power in the province,” she said.