Former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba this week confirming to City Press that he will be forming a new political party whose official launch “will be announced at the end of June”.
Mashaba, who put to bed months of speculation about whether or not he and former DA leader Mmusi Maimane would be forming a political party after their unceremonious departure from the DA last year, was adamant that the party would be ready to contest the upcoming 2021 municipal elections.
The former mayor, however, refused to comment on whether Maimane and former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza, who have been involved in his people’s dialogues, would play any role in the new party.
“What I can confirm right now is that a new political formation will be announced by June at the latest. A political party will definitely be formed and we are definitely going to participate in the 2021 local government elections,” he said.
According to Mashaba, what will “set this party apart from the rest” is that he is looking at forming a “people-driven political party” that will be “free from the constraints of political ideology and political self-interest”.
He said he would achieve this through using inputs received from ordinary South Africans during his People’s Dialogue, a platform he created “for ordinary South Africans to make their voices heard in an effort to define a shared vision for the future”.
Mashaba has been running The People’s Dialogue since December 6, and he calls the movement the building blocks of his party.
“This party is a party that is going to be driven by civil society.
“Any South African wanting to join the party will be screened, more so those who are already politicians.
“I can assure you that for existing politicians to form part of the party, they will be vetted and the vetting system will be tight to make sure that we do not allow people who are going to compromise us.”
“They [politicians who want to jump ship and join his party] will have to pass through the eye of the needle. We are not going to accept people who are going to be paid to serve their own interests instead of those of society,” Mashaba told City Press.
Former DA federal chairperson Athol Trollip, who resigned alongside Maimane last year, said although he was of the view that “there is no need for more political parties” in the country’s already congested political landscape, he thought the fact that Mashaba was going back to the ordinary people and taking a mandate from them was a noble and much-needed change in direction from where politics has been headed lately.
“Political parties have become arrogant and have forgotten that they serve ordinary citizens and not the other way around, so I think what Mashaba is doing is right.
“It is good that he is listening to the South African people, that’s what effective leadership entails. Politicians need to do more listening than talking,” said Trollip.
Mashaba launched the People’s Dialogue days after he quit the DA and his mayoral position in an apparent protest against the election of former Western Cape premier Helen Zille as DA federal council chairperson in October last year.
He likened the dialogue to a modern-day Convention for a Democratic SA – the series of negotiations which occurred between 1990 and 1993, resulting in South Africa’s first nonracial election following unilateral steps to bring together the governing National Party, the ANC and many other political organisations.
Mashaba said that, similar to what happened then, “we want the input of ordinary South Africans and not politicians to decide the future of their country”.
The dialogue will end next month, giving Mashaba a month to tally the findings and release a final report to the public in March.
“I have given a commitment that we will run these dialogues until the end of February so that by the end of March, at the latest, we produce a report that will inform us what South Africans are looking for. The report will be made public for all to see,” Mashaba said.
He also said that he had been footing the bill for The People’s Dialogue, but was open to having sponsors come on board.
“At the moment I am the only one funding these dialogues, but I am encouraging other South Africans to come and assist if they think that these dialogues actually talk to them.”
Mashaba went on to say that, from the gatherings he had been to, he was confident that one of the new party’s main goals would be the eradication and prevention of corruption.