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The Surge in Voter Numbers and Political Parties Does Not Necessarily Equate to Increased Democracy

The Surge in Voter Numbers and Political Parties Does Not Necessarily Equate to Increased Democracy


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The surge in political parties in South Africa does not necessarily mean increased democracy, according to Professor Sifo Seep. In the 2019 National Parliamentary Election, 48 parties participated, but only 14 secured enough votes for representation. Seep argues that black-led parties had to compete with each other for African votes, while white-led parties consolidated white votes. He questions if there is a deliberate strategy to fragment the black vote and maintain the power of parties like the Democratic Alliance. With 356 new parties registered for the upcoming elections, the future of South Africa's democracy is uncertain. The surge in voter numbers and political parties does not necessarily equate to increased democracy in South Africa. In a recent op-ed, Professor Sifo Seep, a prominent political commentator, raised doubts about whether the proliferation of political parties is a genuine indicator of South Africa's evolving democracy. He stated, the surge in political parties before elections is not a new phenomenon. A record-breaking 48 parties fielded candidates in the 2019 National Parliamentary Election. Only 14 out of the 48 secured enough votes for parliamentary representation. Furthermore, Seep contends, 46 black-led parties had to compete for the African vote among themselves, as he believes the other two, the Democratic Alliance, DA, and the Freedom Front Plus, white-led parties, had consolidated the white votes. He argues, hundreds of thousands, if not over a million votes were wasted on the remaining 34 registered parties that fell short of the minimum threshold, effectively depriving voters of a potent tool for holding the government accountable. Taking his argument further, Seep questions whether there is a deliberate strategy among donors, primarily from the EU and the USA, to fragment the black vote by creating or back new parties, potentially disenfranchising millions. Is this all calculated to ensure that parties like the DA maintain their stronghold in the Western Cape, secure their position as the second-largest party in the country and the official opposition in Parliament? What implications does this hold for the upcoming elections in an even more crowded and fragmented political landscape with some 356 new political parties, including independent candidates, registered with the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, South Africa's election body? This paints a rather grim picture of democracy in South Africa, especially in a year of elections unlike any since the country gained independence from apartheid in 1994. These scenarios render the upcoming election even more unpredictable but also underscore its significance for the future of South Africa. This audiotorial is written and produced by the Africa Insights Think Tank.

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