Durban — Members of the Multi-Party Charter (MPC) say thorough research has been done in forming the new bloc, whose aim is to dislodge the African National Congress (ANC) after the 2024 general elections.
The block, currently made up of 11 political parties that include among others Action SA, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and is said to be growing, admitted that they face a daunting challenge in resolving possible differences which could impact on their ability to govern.
While the parties have a common goal of removing the ANC from power, they are still engaged in discussions to decide on their position on issues such as education, social safety, economy and the role of the South African Reserve Bank.
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said the choice for the press conference, the Durban harbour, where MPC announced its formation, was meant to highlight the sorry state of affairs under the ANC government.
Mashaba said the once-thriving harbour was on the verge of collapsing, affecting the movement of goods in and out of the country owing to parastatal Transnet’s inefficiencies.
“The ANC’s mismanagement of our economy has created an unproductive and uncompetitive economic environment, perfectly illustrated by Durban Harbour, the backdrop to this press conference,” he said.
“Durban Harbour should be a place of economic activity, the gateway for South Africa’s export products, but instead it is a major bottleneck throttling our economy, along with our broken railways and education system,” he told the briefing.
He noted how with the country’s constitution providing for a government to be formed within two weeks after the elections, the parties were now better experienced to undertake such a mission as the negotiations and trade-offs continued among MPC members almost a year ahead of the elections, compared to 2021.
“It is wise and commendable for these parties to get together before the elections and look at our principles and core values so that past the elections we have already dealt with the key issues of what we stand for,” said Mashaba.
He was equally emphatic that the mindset of leaders would determine the success or the failure of the project.
DA’s John Steenhuisen said they were encouraged by how the grouping had grown over the months, adding that this illustrated the common frustration for many and the desire to get rid of what they regard as a government that did not place the interests of people first and had resulted in people facing numerous hardships including hunger, deprivation and lack of opportunities.
Steenhuisen said that the MPC presented a clear plan on how power would be taken away and lead to a turnaround of the country’s fortunes.
The DA leader also sought to calm fears that the many forms of social assistance would be done away with if the ANC was removed, pointing out how such services were provided for by the State.
Inkatha Freedom Party President Velenkosini Hlabisa said the MPC was better positioned to govern as the groundwork had been done from May, which included visits to countries such as Germany and Denmark to observe how coalition arrangements worked at provincial and national levels.
He admitted that instability in some key municipalities since 2021 had been a tough lesson for many.
“The experience we have gathered is to ensure that we do not repeat what we see at the local government sphere because let us face it, if the City of Johannesburg was a country we would be a joke,” said Hlabisa in reference to how the mayor’s position has changed hands since the local government elections two years ago in the country’s economic capital.
African Christian Democratic Party Deputy President Wayne Thring said that there were challenges faced by members, but pointed out that these were getting addressed through a number of committees and focus groups, each targeting areas that members felt needed attending to.
“From the small group that started to where the MPC is right now, it is clear to see that the MPC is working. Yes, we have differences but in terms of the committees that we have within the MPC the differences to a large extent will be ironed out before they reach the leaders,” said Thring.
He added that with the behind-the-scenes discussions among party leaders, it will be much easier to turn the country around after the elections.