End of an era for Minority Front

Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi, leader of the Minority Front, says the party will not contest the 2024 general elections. | FILE

Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi, leader of the Minority Front, says the party will not contest the 2024 general elections. | FILE

Published Apr 15, 2024


Durban — The Minority Front (MF) will not feature on the 2024 ballot paper, having failed to secure funding to contest the upcoming general elections.

Party leader Shameen ThakurRajbansi revealed this earlier this week as she bid her colleagues in the provincial legislature farewell, marking the end of the sixth session of the sixth KZN legislature.

According to Thakur-Rajbansi, the party’s political fortunes suffered following the death of its founding leader, Amichand Rajbansi. Even contesting the 2019 elections was difficult with a very tight budget.

“A time comes where each of us for various reasons must say goodbye. My time has come. I will not be contesting the 2024 general elections and this is really hard for me to say, honourable speaker,” she told the sitting.

Thakur-Rajbansi indicated that while there had been other factors leading to the decision not to contest, the main reason was a lack of finances.

“Our party did not secure any donations from well-wishers from the private sector like we used to up until 2014,” she said.

Rajbansi pointed out that while she wanted to contest next month’s elections, this was not possible, especially with the aftermath of Covid-19. She told members of the provincial legislature she had sought to make a valuable contribution as a public representative in the past 25 years, just as the MF’s late founding leader had.

She thanked fellow MPLs and officials for their support over the years.

Thakur-Rajbansi said life for women politicians was still fraught with challenges, both at provincial and national levels, and this called for support from other democracy-supporting institutions including the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC).

“My message to the IEC and the private sector is to make a genuine effort to support women politicians financially as the cost of elections is a huge barrier for women’s political participation, yet the voices of women in the halls of power are critical to shape our people’s lives,” she said.

The outgoing MPL said while she felt deeply for the communities, she hoped the new public representatives would carry on with the challenge of ensuring that they were taken care of.

“So all the best to my colleagues in the upcoming elections. Goodbye,” Thakur-Rajbansi said to cheers from the MPLs.

Thakur-Rajbansi became an active politician when she became the chairperson of the MF Women’s League in 1998 and was elected as MPL.

She succeeded her husband following his death in 2011 to become the MF’s leader and had to deal with a lot of turmoil from other party members, including Roy Bhoola and her stepson, Vimal Rajbansi.

Sunday Tribune