Maimane: Hope is mushrooming – SA’s youth will vote for political change in 2024. ANC is done.

Mmusi Maimane, founder of Build One SA, is ratcheting up his organisation’s Plan ahead of South Africa’s critical 2024 national election. This month BOSA unveiled an impressive first batch of candidates to fill positions it expects to be elected into in the National Parliament and Provincial governments – a well-qualified, highly motivated corps of young leaders. In this interview, Maimane explains why BOSA has not joined the Moonshot Pact and why he is confident young voters will turn out in their millions next year to eject the ANC from power. – Alec Hogg

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introductions
  • 01:44 – Mmusi Maimane on where BOSA stands ahead of 2024
  • 04:10 – Maimane on BOSA’s recently announced candidates for 2024
  • 06:38 – Maimane highlights the story of one of the 24 candidates
  • 09:39 – On the lack of education in Parliament
  • 13:05 – Why he is not a part of the Multi-Party Charter
  • 17:28 – On the 2024 ballot
  • 19:37 – On his predictions for 2024
  • 22:52 – On whether both the Zimbabwean and South African elections will be free and fair
  • 25:30 – Concludes

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Edited transcript of the interview with Build One SA’s founder and president Mmusi Maimane

Alec Hogg: BNC#6 is five months away. By then, we should be more aware of what’s likely to happen in the 2024 election. One of the leading players is Mmusi Maimane, who’s with us to provide an upate on Build One SA’s, a dark horse in the 2024 cocktail. Mmusi, since we last spoke two months ago you have released your first batch of candidates, I’m impressed by their credentials. The people you have unveiled as potential parliamentarians or provincial legislature members are a definite improvement over what we have now. Can you take us through the process of finding these leaders and where you are in the lead-up to next year’s election?

Mmusi Maimane: Of course. It’s crucial for us. We began last year, seeking candidates who could represent communities. We didn’t want to impose a list; we wanted the best to represent citizens. We received 450 applications and then authenticated them through a rigorous process, including collecting signatures and providing training. We’ve now narrowed it down, hoping to end up with 200 each for parliament and provincial legislatures. The first 24 are exceptional, and they come from various backgrounds, and the level of qualification is impressive. They are committed South Africans, not just career politicians, who want to serve the country.

Read more: BOSA’s Mmusi Maimane – “In 2024, I’ll be one of four options for SA president”

Alec Hogg: Why now? Why are these people stepping forward at this point?

Mmusi Maimane: Our politics has been dominated by liberation politics, but that has run its course. Now, we’re entering a new era, marked by political activism, where citizens want to make a difference. Build One South Africa gives them a platform, moving beyond just politics and inviting fresh talent with new ideas.

Alec Hogg: I’d love you to share more about one of your candidates, the chief clerk at the Constitutional Court….

Mmusi Maimane: She’s one of many inspiring stories. Mudzuli Rakhivhane worked at the Constitutional Court and helped fight against the electoral amendment bill. She also assisted with the recruitment process, speaking to law professionals and attracting many with LLBs. Her story reflects a move from informal community service to formal political service, joining others, including business people and ambassadors, who want to serve South Africa.

Alec Hogg: This seems to suggest an upgrade in intellectual capacity within the government, moving away from ill-prepared officials.

Mmusi Maimane: Yes, we aim to elevate the quality, like the 1994 cabinet, but with modern standards. We want to ensure our members of parliament have appropriate qualifications, improving both their image and their ability to interrogate complex matters. Unveiling candidates early allows transparency, providing communities with the opportunity to scrutinise and challenge them. This openness is part of our strategy against corruption, and I believe it will bring more quality and decorum to parliamentary proceedings, focusing on substantive arguments rather than conflict.

Alec Hogg: It’s a wonderful breakthrough, and I hope that your lead is replicated across the spectrum. This way, we will be able to vote for the people we truly want in Parliament. However, the big story recently has been the Moonshot Pact, the Multi-Party Charter. You aren’t involved in it. Can you explain why?

Mmusi Maimane: Certainly. Firstly, I don’t discourage anyone from forming any kind of pact. The reality is that even if all the parties within the pact get election results similar to last time, they won’t surpass 50 percent; they’ll be around 38 percent. Simply putting them together isn’t suddenly going to inspire more people to vote. It’s like combining tomatoes, lettuce, feta, and olives, calling it a Greek salad, and expecting it to be more appealing to everyone.

When I started Build One South Africa, I wanted to engage more South Africans. But who’s reaching out to the young people not registering to vote? They want hope and something to rally behind, not just a pact. Our system also requires each party within the pact to contest for elections individually, and we need to ensure that our new brand is given life in communities, rather than being lost within a pact. If we focus on building a capable government, there’s nothing stopping us from conversing post-election. Right now, we must create a moment with South Africans who are waiting for a vehicle that they can support, not just mixing old parties and expecting a new message.

Read more: Terrence Corrigan on Maimane’s BOSA: Giving power back to the people

Alec Hogg: Interesting arguments. But help us understand the new voting system. In the past, we had one ballot paper for the province and one for the national. Now there are three. How does it all work?

Mmusi Maimane: The electoral amendment bill complicates standing alone, requiring over 90,000 votes for one seat. For Build One South Africa, you will find our name in two ballots, both national and provincial, where you can cast your votes. We will then allocate the votes to the respective people on board. We were forced into this position partly due to governmental issues with the Constitutional Court, which dictated that further work on electoral reform was needed within four months of the new bill being signed into law. My focus now is on ensuring that people vote for Build One South Africa, so that we can introduce the talent and candidates we’ve identified within communities. That’s how voting will work next year.

Alec Hogg: Looking ahead to 2024, how do you see it at the moment? You mentioned earlier that the opposition needs another 12 percentage points to get over 50% of the South African parliament. Is that something you see as a certainty, probability, possibility or a long shot?

Mmusi Maimane: No, I think it’s very likely. I’ve spent recent weeks engaging young people who are excited about 2024. Historically, when young people become engaged and new voters come on board, they bring about change. It’s been true in the past, like in the 1960s and 70s when young people took up the battle. I think the most affected audience coming into next year, young people who can’t find work and who are struggling, will vote in numbers. I’m putting forward the idea of a probability and saying that in 2024, a new bunch of young people will come in to vote, and the prospects of change are higher. It’s a good thing. We must avoid limiting choice, worrying about an ANC-DA merger, or an ANC-EFF conversation. We must work for change and encourage as many people as possible to register and vote. There’s no such thing as a wasted vote in a PR system; all votes count. Let’s push for change because it will matter next year. I’m more than certain, and I’m convinced that more people will bring about change.

Alec Hogg: The alternative is just to the north of us. I see you’ve been telling your Twitter followers that they must vote in Zimbabwe. What are your feelings about a free and fair election there, and then here in South Africa?

Mmusi Maimane: In Zimbabwe, I’ve already been getting reports about internet throttling and intimidation, similar to previous elections. Many opposition leaders were locked up or disqualified from participating, and there have been acts of violence. I think the elections have not been free, but I’m hoping Zimbabweans will be brave enough to vote for change. It tells you of the fragility of democracy. We must do everything we can for next year’s election in South Africa. It could be one of the last elections we have under the current conditions. We need to work hard to make it consequential. We have a constitutional frame now, and I believe that President Ramaphosa will preserve the state, but I can’t guarantee it beyond him. Next year’s election is crucial for all South Africans if we want to build South Africa 2.0.

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