Durban - Despite operating on a shoestring budget, the Minority Front (MF) will, this year, break with tradition and contest elections not only in KwaZulu-Natal, but also in Gauteng.
MF leader Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi is hoping her party will get at least one seat in the 73-member Gauteng legislature.
“There are many people who have moved from KZN to Gauteng because they cannot find jobs due to affirmative action. We will be targeting those people hoping to at least get a fraction which would mean a seat,” she said.
Thakur-Rajbansi admitted that contesting two provinces would not be easy for a party facing serious financial problems.
Parties contesting elections have to pay R45 000 for each province they contest and R200 000 to contest national legislature seats.
She said the MF would be spending a paltry R1 million budget in the election, a far cry from the big budgets of bigger parties.
“Those wards have always been DA, they were never MF. Also, when we had the by-elections in Phoenix (last week) I spent R50 000 per ward while other parties spent about R600 000 for their campaigns in each ward. We have put a donations tag on our website, but we have not had any donations yet,” Thakur-Rajbansi said.
She was confident she would find a way to stretch the budget. “I am not a tigress for nothing.”
She has so far reduced the size of the manifestos – soon to be printed – and ventured on to Facebook, Twitter and blogging to reach the electorate.
While other parties are using food parcels and other incentives to woo voters, the cash-strapped MF said instead of “feeding people breyani this time we will be feeding their brains”.
She was not worried about the MF’s poor performance in the two Phoenix wards.
“Those wards have never belonged to the MF. The MF was criticised by the DA for splitting the vote by contesting the two wards. Why not? Mr Rajbansi would never forego a chance of splitting the vote.”
The MF had finalised its lists of representatives, she said without divulging names. But the party’s sole MP, Roy Bhoola, was not among those who would be representing the party either at provincial or national level.
“Mr Bhoola has not availed himself for any of the lists. We were offering him an opportunity to contest in the Western Cape but he declined,” Thakur-Rajbansi said.
Asked whether inviting Bhoola to contest in the Western Cape was not setting him up for failure, Thakur-Rajbansi said no.
“It was Mr Bhoola who, when asked why he was spending more time in Cape Town, said he was setting up branches of the MF there. He said to me he could garner 25 000 votes in the Western Cape.”
She maintained her relationship with Bhoola was fine. “Mr Rajbansi used to say: ‘always trust people until the people let you down’. I have learnt that lesson.”
Thakur-Rajbansi admitted the legal wrangling in the MF involving factions led by her and Bhoola had cost the party dearly. This not only meant a late start, but also that some voters abandoned the MF.
This will also be the first time the party has gone to the polls without its founder, Amichand Rajbansi. But Thakur-Rajbansi is hoping to maintain its two seats in KZN and one in the national assembly.
“This would be a legacy vote (for Rajbansi) but there are those who will be giving their votes to me.”