Johannesburg – The May 8 poll was an exhilarating show – from the comic relief of some of its candidates like Hlaudi Motsoeneng to claims, unsubstantiated, of rigging.
But it is the post-poll permutations of who comes and goes out of the National Assembly that makes for even more fascinating reading.
While the disruption represented by the EFF is almost guaranteed to endure, the inner sanctum of the national legislature will never be the same.
It remains to be seen if the EFF could be persuaded to sing a different tune by their newest MP, Ringo Madlingozi.
But, from Andries Tlouamma of Agang SA, who says his party’s departure from Parliament is “a painful blessing”, to Mzwanele Manyi’s new entrants, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), the story of who comes in and who goes out of the sixth Parliament is one made for pay TV.
Perhaps the biggest casualty of the elections has been the African People’s Convention (APC), led by Themba Godi.
After the 30-day unbroken journey he took across the country, engaging with the electorate at taxi ranks and shopping malls, Godi is of the opinion the election outcomes are not in consonant with the effort he put in.
The APC is not returning to Parliament after failing to garner a single seat from its 19593 votes.
He claimed the responses to his message had been positive and he found it inconceivable that the APC could score a paltry 0.11% of the national vote, down from 0.17% in 2014 and 0.2% in its first year in Parliament in 2009.
The APC was meeting this weekend to get to the root of this dismal showing, he said. “We were victims of terrible shenanigans that accompanied these elections.”
Despite the setback, “which is only temporary”, Godi said the spirit in the party was high and the next target was the 2021 local government elections. “We still have councillors throughout seven provinces; it’s not like we’ll be starting from scratch.”
But it is not all doom and gloom. His illustrious work as head of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) brings a lilt to his otherwise lethargic voice courtesy, no doubt, of too many campaign speeches.
Scopa is a committee of Parliament and by virtue of him no longer being in Cape Town, he will not return to head it, Godi said.
He said the question of what health he left Scopa in is best answered by looking at the state he found it in when he took its helm in November 2005.
“I took over a committee that was in tatters,” he said, “a committee that was coming from the cold shadows of the Arms Deal.”
His immediate task was to blur party political lines and unite the members behind the task to make the committee effective and he leaves it as “the most trusted committee in parliament”.
Across party political affiliation, the members of Scopa became “just a band of comrades united against corruption”.
It is difficult to argue against what he’s achieved with Scopa.
Scopa would do well not to look further than Patricia de Lille, the initial whistle blower against the Arms Deal, who returns to Parliament after a prolonged absence that included a stint as mayor of Cape Town on a DA ticket.
Her new party, Good, won two seats.
“I will return to the National Assembly, where I served for nearly 16 years from 1994 to 2010. I will be joined by Shaun August, our national organiser and Brett Herron, our secretary general, will take up the Good seat in the Western Cape legislature,” de Lille said.
She returns to find, among others, IFP leader Dr Mangsouthu Buthelezi, who went back on his word to retire from Parliament. His party won 14 seats.
In a statement on Tuesday, the ATM said: “We sailed from nowhere with limited resources and no long history nor established brand and delivered a campaign that saw us gaining two seats in the General Assembly (sic) and a further two seats in the provincial legislatures, one in Eastern Cape and another in KwaZulu- Natal.”
Its two seats from 76830 votes will be taken by its president Vuyolwethu Zungula and Thandiswa Marawu.
“Now we stand proud as one of the biggest winners in the 2019 national and provincial elections new entrants category. To be in the top eight of the 48 competing parties is something to be celebrated. This outcome surpasses what is usually a reality for parties of our same size and we need to be grateful for this milestone.
“Our tone has never changed since inception; we are a party formed by the people, for the people. We will continue to carry this message for as long as we exist.”
This sharply contracts with Agang SA which, through Tlouamma, blames its poor performance on a variety of factors, lack of funds among them. “Our shoestring budget did not allow us a nationwide election campaign. We suffered the problem faced by the other small parties, of being without donors.
“But we must thank the 14000 people who voted for us. They have proved to be very loyal supporters. We noted many other people were not registered to vote. Had we had enough resources, we could have embarked on a voter education and general election campaign.”
Like fellow departees, Tlouamma said his party’s hopes rested on the work of its councillors across municipalities. “The next stop is 2021 and then a full return to Parliament in 2024.”
Narius Moloto of the PAC thinks the party did better than the numbers reflected on the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) board.
A total of 32 677 votes gave the PAC 0.19%, giving it one seat in the National Assembly that will be occupied by Mzwanele Nyontsho.
“We’re clearly disappointed. We approached this election in a very structured way, much more organised way than even in 1994,” Moloto said.
“We could have done better,” he said, pointing a finger at the tampering with ballot boxes he says he witnessed.
In Africa, he said, quibbling over election outcomes is mostly a pointless pursuit: “You’re wasting your time.”
While Nyontsho will be the face of the party in the legislature, Moloto and others will man the parliamentary office.
“We’ve been rebuilding the PAC over the years,” said Moloto, who sounds satisfied with its effort. “The PAC was not born of parliamentary politics. It was born outside Parliament.”
The Sunday Independent