File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

From Good to ATM, voters will have a variety of political parties to choose from in the May 8 general election. 

According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) website, nearly 300 parties have registered to contest the elections at national level and 294 at provincial level.

The Western Cape leads with 106 parties, while Limpopo has 46, the Eastern Cape 31, Northern Cape 30, Mpumalanga 25,  KwaZulu-Natal 20, Gauteng 15, Free State 11 and North West 10.

While the governing African National Congress (ANC), official opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are expected to be the front runners, three newcomers could make for interesting watching. 

The "Good" party, the brainchild of former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, has promised "clean" politics, and to make "good" changes. 

De Lille launched Good on December 2, 2018, after resigning from the DA. This is De Lille's second attempt at her own party after she founded the Independent Democrats (ID) after leaving the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC).

Another party of interest could be the Hlaudi Motsoeneng-led African Content Movement (ACM).

"Mr 90%" as he is known, the former South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer launched ACM in December 2018, with a focus on poverty, land, unemployment and education, among other issues. 

He received a rock star welcome in Boitekong near Rustenburg on February 10 when he was electioneering in the area. Motsoeneng has described the ANC as "old testament", while ACM is the future.

"The ANC failed to do simple basic things. Within six months of an ACM-led government, we will roll out title deeds," he said. The ACM would also subsidise the taxi industry, he said.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM),  established in 2018 by the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC) was unknown until former government spokesperson and media mogul Mzwanele Manyi was unveiled as a member on January 9. He is the party's policy chief.

Within a month of Manyi joining, the party announced ANC MP, Dr Zukile Luyenge, had defected to join ATM.  

Party president Vuyolwethu Zungula said they are different from other political parties because the party is people-driven, it was formed by people not by politicians who have broken away from other political parties.

ATM will be funded by its members, Zungula told members in Rustenburg during the party's North West launch in October. 

"We have noted in the country that political parties are not funded by its members, they are funded by the wealthy. That places the country in a difficult position because now these political parties are no longer advocating for the needs of the people, they are advocating for the needs of whoever is funding them," he said.

The party believed in a unitary government system instead of a federal system.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), led by Irvin Jim, has registered the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party, which advocates for leadership of and by the working masses. 

Numsa at its special congress in 2013 resolved not to support the ANC in the 2014 election, instead the union resolved to organise itself by forming a worker’s party to champion their struggles.

Each election brings a newcomer to watch. In the 2009 election, the Congress of the People (Cope), an off-shoot of the ANC was the new kid on the block. It won 30 seats while the EFF was the newcomer in the 2014 elections.

The  EFF, which was formed nearly nine months before the May 7 election, surprised many by obtaining 6,35% of the vote, translating into 25 seats, as they beat long-time parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Cope.

The IFP dropped from 18 seats in the 2009 election to 10 in 2014, while Cope dropped from 30 seats in the 2009 election to three seats after the 2014 election. The UDM retained the four seats it had won.

Cope was formed in December 2008 by former ANC members Mosiuoa Lekota, Mbhazima Shilowa and Mluleki George. The party experienced leadership disputes and after the 2014 elections it won only three seats.

The 2019 elections present Good, a splinter of the DA, and the ATM as newcomers to be watched at the polls.

The sixth general elections will be held on May 8, 2019 to elect a new National Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province. 

These elections will determine who will become the next president of South Africa and premiers in the nine provinces and with May 8 fast approaching, political parties, known and unknown, have sprung into election campaign mode to charm votes.

Most of the political parties have already launched their manifestos and some are event taking it province by province. 

The DA will launch its  manifesto in Johannesburg on February 23.

African News Agency (ANA)