Picture: iSTOCK
Picture: iSTOCK

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) is well on its way to become the sixth biggest party in parliament after a relatively strong performance in the general elections on Wednesday.

After 90.1% of the national votes had been counted on Friday, the ACDP was leading other religious political parties with 128,424 votes, or 0.87%.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said the party is relatively upbeat about the election results, saying they had already surpassed its growth expectations.

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“It looks like we could get our fourth seat in parliament. We are now the sixth biggest political party in the National Assembly,” he said, adding that the party was bigger than COPE, Agang SA and the National Freedom Party. 

Swart said the ACDP, which is against abortion, sex work and pornography, and supports capital punishment, will continue exposing corruption and dealing with issues of economic development, and put a strong focus on fiscal and monetary policies.

It will also focus on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), such as the cash-burning utilities Eskom and Transnet, which were both at the centre of state capture by the Gupta family, who are former president Jacob Zuma’s personal friends.

Other faith-based political parties that contested the elections include the African Transformation Movement (ATM), which was founded by Caesar Nongqunga, a Zuma ally and leader of the Twelve Apostles Church in Christ, which claims a membership of about 7-million.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) had 69,234 votes, or 0.46%, by Friday afternoon. The party also supports the death penalty. Al Jama-ah, a Muslim-based political party, had received 28,925 votes, or 0.19%, by Friday afternoon.

During the 2014 national elections, Al Jama-ah controversially made election promises based on the Shariah, an Islamic religious law meaning “the way”, to help unleash what it described as the second transition for SA’s young democracy. But it explained that this did not mean an Islamic state for SA but a platform to reverse the moral decay that has taken root the country. 

Other organisations that did not perform well were the African Covenant Party and the Christian Political Movement (CPM).

Bishop Paul Verryn, a respected religious leader and anti-apartheid campaigner, said the church and politics were “interesting bed fellows”. He said it was predictable that in every election there would always be a sizeable number of religious ministers willing to try their hand in politics.

“After all, the church is a very good training ground for politicians,” said Verryn. He stressed, however, that it was important for the church, just like the judiciary, to keep its distance from government. Very often, the church raises issues pertaining to justice and human rights, he said, adding that currently the dangerous phenomenon in SA was the gap between the very rich and desperately poor.

“It’s the responsibility of the church to say to those in power — address this issue,” said Verryn. “If you don’t you must know that you are inciting a bloodbath in this country, where the desperately poor will do whatever to survive.”

Nkosikhulule Nyembezi, the domestic elections observer from Election Monitoring Network, told Business Day on Friday that the credibility of the elections is not in question. This is despite smaller political parties, including the CPM, staging a dramatic protest inside the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) national results operations centre in Pretoria, raising several grievances against the electoral body and media coverage in general.

Some of the parties went as far as to say they were “rejecting” the election results and did not rule out approaching the Electoral Court to seek relief.