IEC’s chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
IEC’s chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The number of parties set to contest the 2019 elections has grown dramatically, with 47 new political parties registered since January 2018 and a further 37 applications pending, says the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC). 

The IEC hopes the almost 300 registered parties in SA will not all contest in the national elections scheduled for later in 2019.

Disgruntled members of established political parties have formed breakaways in recent months, which are set to take part in the elections.

Supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa have cautioned that the surge in small parties and splinter groups is aimed at undermining him and the ANC in the polls.

According to ANC insiders, contestation inside the ANC still persists after the party’s divisive Nasrec elective conference in 2017, and some of these factions are seen as an attempt to weaken the president.

Ramaphosa is yet to announce the date of the elections.

They are set to be hotly contested as opposition parties hope to push the governing ANC below 50% of the support in crucial provinces such as Gauteng.

But it is not only the bigger established parties such as the DA and the EFF that are in the playing field.

In December, newly founded smaller parties were thrust into the limelight when disgraced former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced his own party, while ANC member Mzwanele Manyi this week joined the African Transformation Movement (ATM), which was initially a lobby group for former president Jacob Zuma.

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said on Thursday 285 parties were currently registered. 

The IEC was still processing 37 more applications.

“Of course, this hopefully does not mean we will see a 200-party ballot paper,” Mamabolo said.

Parties will only make it onto the ballot when they pay the R200,000 registration fee to contest nationally, as well as R45,000 per province.

Mamabolo said the IEC has engaged Ramaphosa on the elections date, but would use an opportunity to meet with him soon to “plead” with him to announce the date before the last voter registration weekend.

The election timetable will only kick in when the poll is proclaimed in the government gazette. This will also close the voters’ roll ahead of the election.

The last opportunity to register to vote takes place on January 26 and 27.