Herman Mashaba's new party may look like a home for 'recycled politicians' but if they played their cards right, they could possibly lure away Metropolitan voters who are sick of the status quo.
Analysts have mixed feelings about the political future of Herman Mashaba’s new political party, though they concur that there is need for a party that will bring alternatives to voters disgruntled with the ANC.
They say if future leaders united and came up with good alternative policies, a party could get massive support, because people were desperate for an alternative to the ANC, DA and EFF.
Political analyst Prof Lesiba Teffo said Mashaba was the right leader to provide that alternative due to the credibility he built for himself as then Johannesburg mayor. Teffo said while it was too early to talk in terms of votes, there was a great potential for Mashaba and his new party to outdo the ANC in the metros or the big cities.
“Mashaba’s credibility surpassed that of many a parliamentarian, former exiles and ex-Robben Islanders or politicians with 30 to 40 experience in the game. Here is a political novice who emerged to turn around Johannesburg in a short space of time.
“As mayor, he did not shy away from the immigration issue and he challenged foreigners to come to the country legally or go home. That is a kind of a politician that people would want to support and vote for in elections,” said Teffo.
He said Mashaba needed to concentrate his energy on attracting support from the metropolitan areas or big cities for a start, because that’s where he built his track record as a mayor who could make a difference in the lives of the ordinary people.
If in future elections he contested only in the metros, Mashaba’s party was likely to give the ANC, DA and the EFF a run for their money. The analyst said the DA was busy “self-destructing” with its leadership squabbles while the EFF’s “divisive rhetoric” could prove to be its undoing in future.
“The EFF has a repulsive rhetoric, is anti reconciliation and anti nation building, and that could militate against them in future. Because of their divisive rhetoric which is anti-white, anti-Indian and anti-coloured, the EFF would not be attractive to everybody,” Teffo said.
“Mashaba could score better if his party targeted the politically literate found mainly in the big urban cities for support, because those were not easily swayed by ANC hampers like the educationally literate and the poor.”
The politically literate are “driven by principle, policy and always seek change in their material conditions so as to leave a better tomorrow for their children,” Teffo said.
He said on the other hand, the poor, such as people of Vuwani in Limpopo who would burn down their schools and dig holes in the road to protest against the ANC, yet later vote for the same party that disappointed them, did so exactly because they were persuaded with food parcels during election time.
“Mashaba might surprise himself, he might get support in these areas because he comes with a lot of credibility. It is people like him that voters want. He stands a chance because many people want change because they were unhappy with the status quo.”
Analyst Prof Susan Booysen said it was important that Mashaba had the backing of politicians with no baggage, such as former ANC MPs Makhosi Khoza and Vytjie Mentor, who joined the People’s Dialogue recently.
She said as much they may come across as a “band of recycled politicians” or a “coalition of the wounded,” but there was a need for an alternative, especially now that the current political heavyweight parties face a series of crises.
She said while Mentor was a formidable former trade unionist, Khoza’s party-hopping tendencies could haunt the new party.
“Khoza did not make it on her own after she left the ANC. She was unable to make a transition from opposing Zuma or ANC and being a leader in her own right,” Booysen said,
“Conditions are much better now, but I wonder if they will cut a definitive agenda against the ANC. I wonder which ANC they will target in its current state as a three-headed beast – as a corrupt party of Jacob Zuma or a corruption busting ANC of Ramaphosa, or an ANC of Ramaphosa that tolerates corruption,” Booysen said.
She defined the ANC under Ramaphosa as a “soft and porous” party that continued to be embroiled in infighting. However, the leader remained highly rated outside the party.
“There is a need for a great opposition, voters could be desperate to look for any party or the opposition to the ANC.”
However, Booysen doubted if Mashaba’s party, which will be launched on 29 August, could defeat the EFF and DA, never mind the ANC, in future elections. She put its electoral prospects at between 5 and 6 percent.
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