There is one negative feature of South Africa’s democracy that indicates that internal party democracy is a sham because of the cancer of domination by one leader.
This is ironic as political parties are supposed to be the main structures that promote democratic ideas.
Invariably, every political party is led by these strong characters, some of whom have done so for decades. Can you imagine the United Democratic Movement without Bantu Holomisa or the EFF without Julius Malema?
Even the new parties that are sprouting all over the place are not immune to this. It is difficult to think about the African Transformation Movement without thinking of Vuyolwethu Zungula.
And some parties are suffering from the effects of this. Take the IFP as an example.
The party is apparently going to honour its last leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, by having his picture in the forefront of its election materials. This may well be so, but voters are not easily fooled: the IFP is in disarray at leadership level.
Velenkosini Hlabisa has not been able to cement his leadership position as he is being challenged by provincial leaders from KwaZulu Natal.
This is precisely because Buthelezi had so dominated the party that he had hogged all political power. When he died, he left a vacuum.
This does not exonerate parties such as the ANC and DA from the shenanigans. Theirs is a variation of this cancer. The have developed a bad culture of chasing out their leaders. This happened with Thabo Mbeki who wanted to cling on to power. He was replaced by Jacob Zuma who had to be pushed out.
The DA is in the same boat. Mmusi Maimane was kicked out because its leaders wanted their party back from his clutches. They considered him to be taking it the wrong direction.
Instrumental behind such moves were leaders like Helen Zille who once led the party but made a forceful comeback to get rid of leaders such as Maimane.
Parties must practise what they preach.
*Unisa Political Sciences Department COD, Pretoria Dr Thabisi Hoeane.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.