Ace Magashule to contest 2024 vote

An official who was expelled from South Africa’s governing party for unlawfully announcing a decision to remove President Cyril Ramaphosa from his post has started a new movement to contest elections next year, adding to an already crowded field of contenders.

Ace Magashule, who was the secretary-general of the African National Congress before his expulsion earlier this year, announced the formation of his African Congress for Transformation in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Berning Ntlemeza, a former top police official, was the only other high-profile figure to attend the event.

Magashule is facing a raft of corruption-related charges for his alleged role in the theft of taxpayer funds during former President Jacob Zuma’s nine-year rule. He denies wrongdoing.

Magashule joins a growing list of disgruntled politicians who have opted to go it alone ahead of the elections, which are due to take place in about a year’s time and are set to be the most hotly contested since the ANC came to power in 1994.

The proliferation of parties poses a challenge for the Electoral Commission of South Africa — the ballot papers could span three pages and an estimated 105 million of them will have to be printed. The last national vote in 2019 was contested by 48 parties and only 14 secured seats in parliament.

New legislation recently passed by parliament will enable independent candidates to contest the upcoming vote for the first time. Civil rights groups have challenged the law in court, arguing that it favors established parties and disadvantages independents because of the thresholds it imposes for them to win seats.

© 2023 Bloomberg