January 20, 2021

[Voices] Breakaway Party Politics

South African politics is no stranger to factionalism, breakaway parties as they are commonly referred to have existed in the South African political sphere even in the pre-1994 era. It seems as though the nature of politics like history is to repeat itself, political parties are created and destroyed on the basis of agreeing to disagree. In the post-1994 democratic era of our political history we have seen an increase in the number of political parties, as well as, breakaway parties due to factionalism and ideological differences.

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Breakaway parties and factionalism can take place due to a number of reasons but most commonly splinter or breakaway parties are formed due to ideological differences within the party. Members of political parties may disagree on the development and execution of ideologies that aim to achieve the party’s objectives and fulfill its manifesto. However, factionalism can be beneficial to a political party despite many assuming the worst about factions in a political party.

The parties that have been most affected by breakaway factionalism political views include the African National Congress (ANC) and more recently the Democratic Alliance. The ANC during its 24-year reign as the majority party currently holding 249 of the 400 seats in parliament has survived four factional party breakaway’s- The Congress of the People (COPE) formed in 2008, Agang SA formed in early 2013, The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) formed in 2013 and the African Democratic Change (ADeC) formed in 2017.

The ANC’s opposition the DA currently holds 89 seats in parliament making it the second largest political party in South Africa. The DA has had its fair share of split political ideology but has never experienced the breakaway party phenomenon or factionalism until now. Patricia De Lille former Cape Town Mayor resigned from her post as Mayor and member of the DA and started her own political party named For Good. Even if De Lille’s party dose not win in the upcoming 2019 elections For Good poses a threat to the DA especially in the Western Cape.

It Is essential for a breakaway party such as For Good to secure between 15-20 seats in parliament post the 2019 elections if the party is to survive and drive change in the South African political landscape. Patricia De Lille has a large support base that consists of a majority of coloured folks and her experience in South African politics speaks for itself. This will deal a blow to the DA’s support base mainly within the coloured communities of the Western Cape.

Article by Thipe Maelane

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