Durban - The Minority Front has a long, hard road ahead.
“The next five years will be all about hard work. We will regroup, restructure and get all our voters back from the DA,” said party leader Shameen Thakur Rajbansi.
Speaking soon after it emerged that the party’s provincial backing had been slashed in half at this year’s elections when compared to the 2009 result, Thakur Rajbansi tried to put on a brave face.
Final figures last night indicated that her party had managed to secure only 38 960 votes (1.02 percent) a huge decrease when compared to the 70 000 votes they scored in 2009.
By her own admission the party had lost the bulk of their voters to DA. “They (DA) also took away my ward councillors,” she said.
The DA had worked hard in luring MF members, with three MF councillors defecting from the party to join the DA.
“We’ve lost about 80 percent of our voters, provincially and nationally to the DA, but I do think that we fought a good fight” said Thakur Rajbansi.
She went on to say that despite the fact that the odds were stacked heavily against her, she had managed to get “decent” votes.
For two years, she had to fight a leadership court battle with MF MP Roy Bhoola.
She was the only woman in a male-dominated party. Half of her male colleagues did not share her vision, and therefore refused to work with her in pre-election months. “They wanted me to prove my mettle and I think I have,” she said.
Because of the drawn-out court battle, the party only received funding from the IEC three months before the polls.
“I went into the elections with half of the MF team and half of those people just sat back and didn’t do anything because they backed Roy Bhoola,” she said.
“I only had support from 25 percent of the MF officials.”
But the party’s dismal display did not mean its demise of from the political landscape.
“No, this is not the end of the MF, it’s actually the beginning. The rebirth of the party,” she said.
Thakur Rajbansi said that she now found herself in a similar scenario as that of her late husband Amichand Rajbansi when he first entered politics 20 years ago. He died in December 2011.
“What’s happening now is reminiscent of 1994 when my husband formed the MF. The party did poorly in those elections, but it went on to grow. I will do the same thing from now onwards,” she promised.
To achieve her objective of rebuilding the party into one of the strong contenders in the province, Thakur Rajbansi said she would get new blood, loyalists who would not be easily swayed by “dangling carrots”.
Asked if their election slogan “Do it for the Raj” had backfired, she conceded to getting “flak” for the phrase.