At the deadline yesterday a total of 34 political parties have shown their intention to contest the election on May 8. The IEC gave them time till 17:00 yesterday to pay their deposits and to submit candidate lists.
The IEC will now sift through the parties to establish whether they are compliant with the law and IEC principles and then set March 25 as the final return for queries for parties and nominated candidates.
Most of these parties will fall along the way as the election campaign picks up speed. There is no place to hide for facebook parties, opportunists and clowns – from now on it is hard politics under scrutiny.
It is doubtful whether more than 13 parties will eventually make it to Parliament; in fact, the number may for the first time since 1994 drop to less than 12. It is not so easy to draw 50 000 for a seat in Parliament as it looks from the comfort from a computer chair.
Only a day after the deadline the first shots are fired: the DA ends up in a corruption scandal with the wife of a well-known gangster to the tune of R40 million; the FF+ has to defend Corne Mulder’s comment on the Cape Town Airport and Krotoa; the Afrikaner-run Front National has to give answers to detractors about their leader’s sexual orientation and an alleged liaison with a Cape Town vet, as well as the number 2’s connection as pro bono advocate for Zuma and a black land claim around Pretoria; De Lille and Good are under fire about corruption in Cape Town; the ANC must defend the Bosasa-implicated on its candidate lists. Agang is nowhere to be seen; Buthelezi (90) and his age becomes a problem for the IFP and the effect on disgruntled Zulu supporters of Zweletini and land; Cope seems to have lost the plot with inexperienced and unpopular candidates and accusations about its honesty regarding minorities and its LGBP stance; the UDM and ACDP rattle on like dinosaurs on their last legs of relevancy. A few irrelevant parties have slipped through the processes (probably to boost the notion of a “broadening of democracy”) with questions being asked where the registration money is coming from.
Clearly, the gloves are off. Much is propaganda. Much is truth. The meat mincer has been switched on and only the fittest will survive.
From now till May 8 it is a free-for-all. There is no place to hide.
Sadly, this free-for-all reflects worse on the ineffectual opposition parties and will provide the ANC and EFF with breathing space by diverting attention from the really important issues facing South Africa. It will also show up as a fragmented opposition vote at the polling stations with thousands of voters being disgruntled because their parties did not make the minimum 50 000 impact they had promised their supporters before May 8.
We are indeed between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Take your pick: the whole alphabet is there, right from ABC to XYZ.
* As we predicted two months ago a number of parties fell to the wayside already and will have no influence on the election save as sideline spectators.