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What is not adding up about the MK Party membership numbers

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What is not adding up about the MK Party membership numbers

The MK Party has been very vocal about its huge increase in members, but the reporting of these numbers actually does not tell us much.

With things gearing up as we head into the May 2024 general elections (if we are to go with the election date suggested by the IEC), more and more new political parties are coming out of the woodwork.

And while there is certainly always room for the establishment of new and promising parties that hope to bring about real change – there is no more space in the South African political system for lies, half-truths and empty promises.

One of the most talked-about new parties on the scene is the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, more commonly known as the MK Party. However, there are some things about this party’s reported membership numbers that are not quite adding up.

What the MK Part says about its membership numbers

If what the MK Party has reported about their membership numbers is true, this party has seen one of the most astronomical growths of any political party in the history of South Africa.

The MK party has already reportedly amassed a following which rivals some of the most popular political parties in the country in a matter of just a few weeks.

MK Party’s most recent end-of-2023 reporting pinned the party at 3 million members. For context, there were just over 17 million votes cast (in total) for the 2019 National Assembly.

This kind of support (assuming all their supposed members voted) would place MK Party in third place, right behind the ANC and the DA.

The problem with the numbers

But upon closer inspection, things do start falling apart slightly. Most of the seemingly impressive numbers reported by the MK Party in the last few weeks actually only count the number of visits to the party’s website – and not the number of voters who actually registered with the party.

And, even if all of these visitors registered, it is still unlikely that they will all decide to vote for the MK Party once they reach the voting box.

To compound this issue, South Africa has also seen a marked decline in voter turnout in the last few years (with only about 66% of registered voters actually casting their vote in the previous election).

Therefore, not only could not all of the voters registered with MK Party end up voting on the day, but almost half of these voters may not even show up in the first place.

The bigger issue

In the end, broadcasting membership numbers is not only almost entirely trivial, but it is also worrisome that a party (which is still only at the beginning of its political climb) is already lacking a certain transparency and accountability towards its supporters.

A more realistic and pragmatic approach to reporting membership numbers is needed, even during the so-called silly season of election campaigning – but then again, why bother?

New members are supposedly still rolling in the MK party – so who am I to spoil the fun with pesky details of transparency and accountability – let the silly season continue.

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