Elections 2024: What the independent candidates have to say

We put five questions to each of the five independent candidates

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Five independent candidates will stand in the May elections. Graphic: Lisa Nelson

Five independent candidates will stand in the May elections: Zackie Achmat in the Western Cape, Anele Mda in Gauteng, Lovemore Ndou in Limpopo, Faith Phathela in Limpopo, and Blessings Ramoba in Limpopo and in Gauteng.

GroundUp asked them why they are standing as independent candidates and which major policy issues they will address if they are elected. We received responses from Zackie Achmat, Anele Mda, Lovemore Ndou and Faith Phathela. Here they are, in alphabetical order. Responses have been slightly edited for length. We have not yet received Blessings Ramoba’s answers.

The independent candidates are standing for the National Assembly. But they only appear on one of the three ballots in specific provinces/regions (they are termed “regional candidates for the National Assembly” by the IEC). While Ramoba is on the third ballot in two provinces, votes for him are not pooled across both provinces.

IEC video explaining how the three ballots work

Zackie Achmat - Western Cape

Zackie Achmat worked within the ANC during apartheid. Since 1994 he has co-founded and led movements such as the Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, the Social Justice Coalition, Ndifuna Ukwazi, Reclaim the City, and #UniteBehind. These movements focused on political education, research, mobilisation, and litigation.

1) Why are you standing as an independent rather than with a party?

The Constitution requires Parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal councils to build a participatory democracy where all people have the right to participate directly in their work. Elections and representation in Parliament are a very small part of democracy.

Participatory democracy is essential to ensure accountability, transparency and public involvement in Parliament’s work. Only 29% of people trust Parliament, only 22% trust political parties and only 42% of those eligible voted in our last national election. As an independent, I will have only two duties: to represent people rather than parties and to act on the basis of the Constitution.

2) What is the main policy issue you will address if elected?

My primary priority is the need to fix the state by building a professional, ethical, open, accountable, efficient and effective public service that uses all resources economically to put social development and the needs of the people first. Section 195 demands this of the entire state. I have four priority areas:

  • Fix PRASA. Trains will only be fixed when every municipality holds PRASA legally accountable through service level plans as required by the National Land Transport Act. #UniteBehind has gone to court to ensure that PRASA signs and implements the immediate devolution of the rail agency to the City of Cape Town and the Gauteng Transport Authority.
  • Fix SASSA. Income security for the most vulnerable people can only be guaranteed when SASSA works and it serves people living with disabilities, the elderly and other marginalised people with dignity.
  • Fix energy. We must prioritise getting green renewable energy to all working-class households over the next ten years. Every province and municipality can achieve this if we follow the example of City Power in Johannesburg without delay. In Alexandra township, City Power, the municipality and provincial government installed solar panels and a mini-grid to electrify 500 households in an informal settlement.
  • Improve primary health and mental health care services with a focus on alcohol substance use disorder and harm reduction. I will immediately bring amendments to the Liquor Act which ban alcohol advertising and its sale in the vicinity of schools.

Parliament’s rules require every MP to undertake constituency work every Monday and every day during constituency periods. I will do so to realise these priorities.

3) Based on their manifestos and track records, where applicable, which party or parties would you consider entering a coalition with?

If elected to Parliament, I do not intend to enter any coalition of existing parties. I will, however, use my vote to elect as President whichever candidate seems most likely to uphold constitutional values including the rule of law, to resist state capture and corruption, and to advance a progressive agenda.

Party coalitions may prove unstable, readily succumbing to rival ambitions. I will not vote to bring down a President elected by the new Parliament unless there is good cause and a better alternative appears.

I will be ready to co-operate with other MPs irrespective of party in proposing and supporting legislative measures that promote equality and serve the interest of working-class people.

4) How is your campaign being funded?

The majority of donors have been working-class and middle-class people. They have given less than R500 on average but big donors have given the most money. We have raised R5.8-million to date and I have loaned more than R1.1-million to the Zackie2024 campaign.

5) Is your funding publicly declared?

At the moment, I am still not obliged to follow the Party Political Funding Act until the President signs the amendments to include independent candidates. My funding is declared on my website and I will submit it to the IEC when the law comes into force. I have also opened my books for scrutiny by any auditor, the IEC and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests when I am elected. Finally, I have engaged an independent forensic auditor to conduct a lifestyle audit for the last five years. I will declare my lifestyle audit to the IEC, the Ethics Committee in Parliament and on my website before the election.

Anele Mda - Gauteng

Anele Mda has been a social and gender activist for 18 years and was one of the country’s youngest MPs in 2009.

1) Why are you standing as an independent rather than with a party?

I believe that by standing as an independent candidate, I can make a meaningful difference in the lives of my fellow South Africans and contribute to a stronger, more inclusive democracy for all.

Being an independent candidate also presents me with a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the government and the people. By running independently, I have the freedom to prioritise the interests and concerns of my constituents without being bound by party politics or agendas.

2) What is the main policy issue you will address if elected?

Abolition of the tender system in government procurement. This is not just a necessary step, but a crucial one in the fight against corruption and for fostering a more inclusive and fair economic environment in South Africa.

The tender system, as it stands, has perpetuated a cycle of cronyism and nepotism, where contracts are often awarded based on personal relationships rather than merit or capability.

Furthermore, the tender system has been a breeding ground for corruption, with kickbacks, bid rigging, and other illicit practices. This not only undermines the trust of taxpayers but also diverts much-needed resources away from essential services and projects, ultimately hindering the country’s development and progress.

Advocating for the abolition of the tender system is not about eliminating opportunities for businesses but rather about creating a more transparent, competitive, and merit-based procurement process. By exploring alternative models such as open bidding, performance-based contracting, and supplier diversity programs, we can ensure that government contracts are awarded fairly and efficiently, benefiting a broader spectrum of businesses and stimulating economic growth.

3) Based on their manifestos and track records, where applicable, which party or parties would you consider entering a coalition with?

Throughout my engagement and participation in Parliament, I would maintain my objective independence with no standing agreement that ties me to any political party but rather cooperate on an issue basis.

4) How is your campaign being funded?

My campaign is funded by my own personal resources which are stretched and as a result, I have embarked on a public fundraising and donation campaign to ensure that I fully acquire the necessary election material.

5) Is your funding publicly declared?

I, unfortunately, have no funding to declare because I have no funding.

Lovemore Ndou - Limpopo

Lovemore Ndou is a boxing champion and a lawyer.

1) Why are you standing as an independent rather than with a party?

I was in the process of putting together a party to be called BABSA (Building a Better South Africa) when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that for the first time, independent candidates can contest the 2024 elections so I decided to stand now as an independent candidate. My initial plan was to contest the 2029 elections as a party leader. So, I will be contesting the 2026 local elections and the 2029 national elections as a party leader.

2) What is the main policy issue you will address if elected?

  • Corruption: This must stop and I will not hold back in calling out the perpetrators.
  • BEE: It is the cornerstone of corruption. It is a failed policy which only benefits a handful of politically connected black political capitalists and a select group of white-owned big businesses and corporations. It must be replaced by a policy that will allow broader participation in the economy by all people of South Africa irrespective of party affiliation.
  • Farm killings and crime in general: I will be calling for the strictest measures to end this scourge.
  • No Land Expropriation Without Compensation: Because we need to protect the security of property rights for all South Africans.
  • Water Crisis: I will put in place great infrastructures to eradicate the current water crisis caused by badly run municipalities that are not investing in maintenance partly because of corruption and theft.
  • Power Crisis: I will strive to solve South Africa’s power issues. I will improve the current infrastructure while introducing renewables.
  • Housing and jobs crisis: I am putting together a scholarship that will allow me to send South Africans to Australia to learn how to build modular homes. They will bring the skills back to South Africa and teach the local people how to build these homes. This will create job opportunities for South Africans and they can purchase these modular homes which are affordable, sustainable and quicker to build. Modular homes are better than shacks.

3) Based on their manifestos and track records, where applicable, which party or parties would you consider entering a coalition with?

I am open to working with anyone or any party that is open to bringing change to South Africa. I will work with anyone that wants to build a better South Africa for all where the future of our children is guaranteed. I am prepared to work with anyone who understands that meaningful change begins at the grassroots.

I am however not convinced that a coalition government will work in South Africa at this stage. For a coalition to work, the parties and candidates have to share the same philosophies and policies. Coalition governments are already not working on a local level, imagine what would happen on a national level if we were to have a coalition government!

4) How is your campaign being funded?

I am self-funded at the moment. Every cent I am currently spending towards the campaign is coming out of my own pocket.

5) Is your funding publicly declared?

I believe in complete transparency and if I do receive funding in the future, I will set an example of how to behave. I will be accountable to answer any questions that the public might have.

Faith Phathela - Limpopo

Faith Phathela is a minister, an auditor and president of “Africa Break The Silence”, which focuses on empowering youth to make better life choices and fighting the spread of HIV. She is chair of the faith-based sector in the Vhembe District Aids Council.

1) Why are you standing as an independent rather than with a party?

There’s a calling upon my life to serve the nation as a Member of Parliament. What I love about being an independent candidate is the freedom of speech. I will speak up about what I believe is best for our nation rather than voice the views of another politician which I may not agree with.

2) What is the main policy issue you will address if elected?

Eradication of corruption. We need to get rid of the tender process and rebuild the Public Works Department. We also need to establish a Spiritual Government which will oversee the functions of our current Administrative Government. The spiritual government should appoint the Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions so that they may be truly Independent from the Office of the President. The roots of corruption are in Parliament.

3) Based on their manifestos and track records, where applicable, which party or parties would you consider entering a coalition with?

As an Independent Candidate, God is raising me to be His Voice to the nation. Therefore, I am not willing to sign an agreement with any party that I will always vote in favour of their policies. I am willing to work with all parties who are willing to work with me, without changing me. I am willing to present my manifesto to other political parties and have them adopt the policies as their own.

4) How is your campaign being funded?

Mainly from family members, church leaders and the business. We’ve recently released the “Faith To Parliament R10 Campaign” to request funds to cover campaign costs.

5) Is your funding publicly declared?

We have committed to declare publicly how much we raised from the “Faith To Parliament R10 Campaign” by 31 July 2024.

TOPICS:  Elections Elections 2024

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