Political intolerance by the bigger parties like the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA) is to blame for the regular political breakaways and formation of new parties by disgruntled members, an expert, Sandile Swana, has said.
The dissatisfied members, he said, still wanted to participate in the country’s democracy, but find themselves trapped and unable to manoeuvre under a dominant faction that did not tolerate their dissenting views.
This left them with no choice but to break away and build new political homes for themselves.
The political analyst said although there were other parties guilty of intolerance or dissent, the ANC and the DA were notorious for the habit.
This week’s formation of the African Congress for Transformation by former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, should be seen against that background.
Months after he was expelled from the ANC, Magashule launched the party in the famous Vilakazi Street in Soweto on Wednesday, saying it would pursue pan-Africanism.
Swana said political parties would remain a factor in South African politics, despite the fact that the proportional representation (PR) system was criticised generally for being undemocratic because a party was in charge of the elected representatives, instead of the electorate.
Under the PR system, voters voted for a party which in turn deployed its members according to the number of votes it received.
“People have been associated with political parties. In both the ANC and the DA, if we can make the discussion narrower, at a certain point there is a dominant faction that does not accommodate the views of others. Over time, the dominant faction is strengthening its stranglehold on the party and the views of other faction are stifled,”
Swana said. So those who break away do so with the intention of establishing their own parties that would represent their interests and to avoid being controlled by the party boss.
The expert cited dissatisfied senior ANC members who left the party to form the Congress of the People when former President Jacob Zuma took over in 2007.
He also spoke about subsequent “Zuma-Ramaphosa alliance” that got rid of radicals like Julius Malema, resulting in the formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters by Malema and other disillusioned former ANC Youth League members such as Floyd Shivambu and Magdalene Moonsamy.
Expelled Carl Niehaus has also registered his Radical Economic Transformation Alliance party.