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Former boxing world champion Lovemore Ndou. Picture: Irma Gustaityte-Calabrese
Former boxing world champion Lovemore Ndou. Picture: Irma Gustaityte-Calabrese

SA-born boxing legend Lovemore Ndou, who moved to Australia 27 years ago, has thrown his hat into the ring, announcing he will be running as an independent candidate in SA’s 2024 election.

Ndou said he would rally behind efforts to address SA’s socioeconomic crises should he be elected as an MP during next year’s provincial and national elections.

The three-time world boxing champion in two weight divisions, who now runs a boutique law firm - Lovemore Lawyers - in Sydney, officially announced he would be running as an independent candidate in 2024 during a ceremony attended by New South Wales premier Chris Minns recently. .

Independent candidates were handed a partial victory by the Constitutional Court when it ruled candidates only need 1,000 signatures or 15% of the people living in the region they are contesting to be eligible to run in the elections.

Speaking to Business Day from Australia, Ndou, 52, who is planning to return to SA, said he was in the process of putting together a political party — Building A Better SA (Babsa) — with the aim of running as a political candidate in the 2029 general election when the Concourt delivered its judgment.

“So, I was like, I might as well run now,” said Ndou, who hails from Limpopo and was known as “The Black Panther” in boxing circles. “I had already collected about 7,000 signatures and when they made the ruling that we only need 1,000, I thought I don’t need to chase more. I already have people on the ground, doing the work for me in SA.”

Ndou said the decision to leave behind his “great lifestyle” in Australia and return to SA was “profound” and was not based on his personal ambitions. “It’s about bringing change to SA. If I become president, that would be a bonus.”

SA is dogged by persistent power cuts, low business confidence, high unemployment, violent crime, systemic corruption, entrenched poverty, and low economic growth. Some opposition political parties have joined together under the multiparty charter for SA with a view to dislodge the ANC from power.

Several polls, including one by the ANC itself, suggest the governing party’s electoral support could fall below 50% in 2024.

Ndou, the former IBF junior welterweight‚ and IBO and WBF welterweight titleholder, who hung up his gloves in 2012, was critical of “many political parties popping up” in SA, saying this was a symptom of everyone wanting to be president.

“They have ulterior motives. I think they see it as an opportunity to become rich, so I don’t blame them because they see what the current leaders are doing,” he said. He added that politicians cared more about lining their pockets than delivering services and changing people’s lives.

“At the polls I will be representing the Limpopo region, with the aim of securing a seat in the National Assembly. I’m coming back home, whether I get enough votes or not, I’m coming back home. If I don’t get enough votes in these elections, I will get enough votes in the future, but I don’t anticipate failure.

“If I don’t get enough votes I will continue working on my part and focus on 2029. Rome wasn’t built in one day. But if I set my mind on something I make it happen. My aim is to build a better SA,” said Ndou, who was once chief sparring partner for American boxing ace Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“I have no ulterior motive other than to serve the people of SA and lead them out of the crisis created by the ANC. I know people in SA need change and I think I’m the right person to bring that change. For a number of reasons, of course: I’m qualified. I don’t have a history of corruption. I have never stolen from the people.”

He holds several law degrees including an LLB, LLM (criminal prosecutions), LLM (human rights and policy), graduate diploma of legal practice, master of applied law in family law, and a bachelor of communications.

Ndou said he would be waging war against the scourge of corruption, the housing backlog, power and water cuts, crime, and BEE, which he described as a failed policy.

“It has not done anything good for the ordinary people. All it has done is to create better lives for ANC elites. We need to replace it with a better policy that would provide opportunities for everyone.”

He would also campaign for better education. “We need to educate people and prepare them to be ready for work. Once people work, you reduce crime and we need to educate our children because they are our future leaders.”

The former pugilist said getting a seat in parliament would afford him the opportunity to hold the executive to account, and to scrutinise policies and government legislation.

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