ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba on by-election results, coalitions and ejecting the ANC in 2024

Successful entrepreneur turned political leader Herman Mashaba is hard at work building structures and putting together the personnel to make ActionSA a major force in South Africa’s 2024 National Election. The party has appointed provincial leaders in six of the country’s nine provinces and promises to fill the other three posts by yearend. Mashaba says results of the three by-elections it has contested since its surprising strong showing in the November 2021 Local Elections support the assertion that his party is gathering momentum. During this interview with Alec Hogg of Biznews, the unlikely politician explains his approach to other political parties that are likely to be allies in ruling coalitions and shares how he sees the transformation of SA’s political landscape after the ANC’s expected loss of power in the 2024’s National Election.

Herman Mashaba on whether he was disappointed with the 8% ActionSA received in the Eastern Cape

No, absolutely not. I think as you are aware, we had less than two months when Athol made a presentation to us and said: Look, you know what, let’s test the waters.” Because we were moving from nought, whatever we are going to get is positive for us. You can imagine we had never done anything in the Eastern Cape before. We remember we only contested six municipalities last year, three in Gauteng and three in KZN. So we wanted to really use this as a test to see the response of the Eastern Cape because the Eastern Cape, in the rural areas, have always been regarded as strong ANC strongholds. So we wanted to test this.

“We had less than two months to pick up a candidate. We said, ‘Athol, you can do it on the condition you find a good candidate. We are prepared to really put every resource behind it to test the water”. And obviously you contest to win because, as ActionSA, we’re not in this game to be an opposition. I’m not looking for a job as an MP or a mayor. No, I want to govern. We want to govern as ActionSA. And you know why we want to govern? So that we can change the lives of people. We are not the party that is an employment agency for people to be public reps. We want people who can really work. So I think for us, look at it in terms of our performance from 8%. Some of the parties, I don’t have to mention their names, have been there for the last 20 years. We outperformed them by double. So to move from nothing to 8% in KwaNobuhle, a stronghold of the ANC, I think is commendable and Atholl worked on it. Unbelievable. We’ve made an impression because when we went there people didn’t know what ActionSA was all about. We had less than two months to do this work. And honestly, I’d give Athol distinctions if I was his lecturer. 

On the benefits of a coalition government

I was on holiday just over a week ago, spent the week in Mauritius and finished reading The Super-Afrikaners, about the Broederbond and how they from 1948 when they took over and how they abused their power. A one-party state is very dangerous because you have got a government that can mislead society and create racial divisions. And now we experience the same thing with the ANC taking over and how they abuse their dominance. So I think I’m appealing to South Africans to embrace coalitions. For the next 50-100 years, South Africa is going to live under coalitions and I think it’s good, because we are going to hold one another accountable. One thing I want South Africans to know – is that we will never drop the DA from governing. Right now, under this coalition arrangement, where we put them in. I’ll mobilise personally to make sure that there’s no motion of no confidence to remove them from office. But one thing for sure, DA is not going to do as they please. If there are issues that we are not happy about, we are not going to be somewhere in dark rooms and shebeens in Saxonwold to go and sort out those issues. 

On how long it will take a coalition government to turn the country around 

Well, I can tell you we can’t promise South Africans a turnaround within 10, 15, 20 years at least. If you can fix just, really bring South Africa’s unemployment rate to plus, minus 10%, if anyone can achieve it in 10-15 years, that person would have really done very, very well because the damage is so deep. And why is it so deep? Because the ANC has the capacity to sabotage good governance, like you’ve seen in the municipalities where we contest. They can go out and mislead society, blame the new government. I mean, you can imagine I took over government on the 22nd of August. A week later, the ANC leader Blade Nzimande told the ANC Women’s League that they were there every day wanting service delivery. So those are the dynamics that you’ve got to deal with. But I think what gives me the hope is that  the majority of our law enforcement agencies have had enough of what’s happening. And one of the things that I’m appealing to – parties that we’re going to go into government with – our legal team is already looking at legislation where we can immediately bring back the Scorpions. And actually with more power away from politicians, if I have my way and I can get the support of other political parties in parliament, the Scorpions, the head of the Scorpions, the head of the NPA, they must not be appointed by the president, so that they do not really have that allegiance to political parties. If I have my way, I really hope that we have to have these constitutional changes as a matter of urgency so that we allow our law enforcement agencies to do what is best. I don’t understand why politicians can say the Scorpions are after them if they have not done anything. You know how many times people have laid charges against me? In fact, even a few weeks ago. The ANC went to go and lay charges against me for buying some “spying machines”. I mean, for me I don’t have to really worry about that. If the head of the Scorpions and whatever abuse their powers, I mean, I have a constitutional right as a president or as an MP or whatever. If they come for me, they’ve got to really have to have the evidence. If they are playing a political game, it’s going to catch up with them. But for me, I believe we need to ensure that our criminal justice system is as free as possible from political interference.

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