ATM targets despondent voters to grow its base for next year’s polls

ATM president Vuyo Zungula said South Africa’s future depends on citizens exercising their right to vote.

Zungula was speaking at the opposition party’s launch of its 2024 elections campaign strategy yesterday at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Gqeberha.

With only two MPs in parliament, a single seat in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal legislatures, respectively, and 53 councillors countrywide – but always punching above its weight – the ATM heads to the polls next year with an aggressive message to whip up the country’s more than 13-million unregistered voters into action.

Even among the 26-million registered voters during the last general elections in 2019, voter turnout was 46.7%, regarded as one of the lowest in the world.

Zungula said yesterday every citizen of voting age had a responsibility to participate in active politics. “This means we need to stay informed about the issues that are of importance to us, vote, and even run for office if we feel so. We also need to get involved in local and national political campaigns, and support those running for office.”

He said a politically active citizenry could shape the country’s direction. “There is a mistake that people make, saying they do not want to involve themselves in politics. I want to tell you now, there is nothing worse than that when it comes to misleading yourself,” he said.

Zungula said people’s ignorance of politics neglected their children’s future. “Because politics is the reason for loadshedding, politics is the reason why you are a prisoner in your own home because of crime levels in our country. Politics is the reason why you pay close to R20 for a loaf of bread. Politics is the reason why even your house or cars could be repossessed.”

Voters will recall the nascent party for its role in forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to account for millions of undeclared and unbanked US dollars stolen from his Limpopo game farm Phala Phala.

The ATM spearheaded Ramaphosa’s impeachment in parliament, coming close to achieving its goal when a legal panel, including a retired chief justice, found he had a case to answer. However, the ANC used its majority to scuttle Ramaphosa’s inquiry.

According to Zungula, the ATM’s vision was to empower citizens, because they could not be easily controlled. By handing out free T-shirts and food parcels during election campaigns, the governing ANC disempowered citizens. “The poverty and suffering of our people is a reason why these people want to keep people in poverty because they know that when people are in poverty, they will give them food parcels as gratification.

“As ATM, we disagree. Because we know that when God created human beings, he gave a human being a mind so they could use it to be productive.”

He said the ANC had long exploited citizens’ ignorance of politics. “It is ignorance that is making people not to want to participate in their own governance.”

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