Home PodcastJulie Alli Al Jama-ah sets sights on greater representation

Al Jama-ah sets sights on greater representation

by Zahid Jadwat

Kabelo Gwamanda has been the Al Jama-ah mayor of Johannesburg since 2023. He says the party wishes to increase representation, not bag a majority vote, on Wednesday. [Picture: via Polity]


Five years after becoming the first Muslim party to be represented in Parliament, Al Jama-ah hopes to increase representation in the upcoming elections, instead of chasing an outright majority.

With the second day of special voting underway on Tuesday, the hotly-contested general election is just hours away. Dozens of political parties and a handful of independent candidates will be vying for seats in provincial and national legislatures on Wednesday.

Speaking in an interview on Salaamedia, Al Jama-ah’s Kabelo Gwamanda, currently the mayor of the City of Johannesburg, said the party knew where to focus.

“We are not gunning for an outright majority like many political parties that want to run the country, but we want to have a significant contribution. We want to represent our constituencies and communities in a manner that is meaningful,” he said.


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Coalition arrangements

With the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on the brink of losing its majority for the first time since 1994, attention is focused on possible coalition arrangements emerging from the election.

Although Al Jama-ah has just one seat in the National Assembly, it could have a bigger role to play than the space its seat takes in the chamber if the ANC misses the 50% (+1) mark.

Supported as a compromise between the ANC and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Al Jama-ah emerged as a kingmaker in Johannesburg. As a three-seat party, it holds the mayoral position in that city thanks to a coalition arrangement that thrust it forward.

There, he said, the party was moving the ball. “You do not have to be a poet for you to get work done. You need to be on the ground,” he said.

“The City of Johannesburg has historical challenges that it’s dealing with. The only issue that we’ve been faced with for the longest of time is that there was no political will to address the issues in a manner that would yield tangible results.”

If the ANC’s losses are to be more substantial, it might take more than just small parties to keep it in office. In that instance, it may have to rope in one of the larger opposition parties, such as the EFF or Democratic Alliance (DA).

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