Shock as new party that started a few months ago takes seats in Newcastle

A woman is seen voting in this Independent Electoral Commission poster Picture: IEC

A woman is seen voting in this Independent Electoral Commission poster Picture: IEC

Published Nov 10, 2021


DURBAN - A NEW political formation, that started as a labour and social movement fighting for rights of factory workers a few months ago, shocked many when it secured seven seats in Newcastle Municipality during last week’s local government elections.

Team Sugar South Africa (TSSA) has emerged as a critical player in Newcastle and is set to play the role of a kingmaker, determining who will take control of the municipality, after securing two wards and five proportional representation seats. The ANC won 22 seats followed by the IFP with 18 while the EFF got 8, DA 5, ActionSA 3 and the NFP and ATM got one seat each.

Excited TSSA leader Musa Thwala said yesterday that he had been inundated with requests from other parties to discuss the formation of a coalition government to run the municipality.

“Today we were engaged with both the ANC and the IFP on forming coalitions,” said Thwala, adding that negotiations with the ANC broke down after it emerged that the governing party was also in discussions with the EFF in the council.

Thwala was previously an executive committee member under the EFF ticket, but was removed by the provincial leadership following a disagreement.

He said they had received support because they understood community needs and were going to address them.

“We are not about politics here, our duty is to make changes in people’s lives for the better.

“People are showing a level of trust in us and that is something we want to live up to,” said Thwala.

He said the new party was now building towards the 2024 national and provincial elections, adding that the party was poised for growth and would surprise many in future.

The municipality has in the past been rocked by scandals, including charges of assault, theft and damage to property under its former mayor, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba.

The ANC in KZN was unavailable to confirm that it had been in negotiations with either of the two parties.

University of KwaZulu-Natal political analyst Siyabonga Ntombela said the emergence of TSSA was a reflection of people shifting their support away from ideology-based parties, but looking at people able to deliver basic needs.

While agreeing that small and emerging parties were becoming a common feature, Ntombela cautioned against overplaying their significance in the political landscape when becoming part of coalition government arrangements.

“Entering into coalitions is risky in that when you are a small party, there is always a chance that the bigger partner may have such influence that at the end of the term in government the small partner no longer exists,” said Ntombela.

He noted how some parties, including the Independent Democrats led by Patricia de Lille, had ended up closing shop after being in a coalition with the DA in Cape Town.