Minority Front leader Shameen Thakur Rajbansi in front of a party poster SABC News
The Minority Front party says it is confident that it will receive sufficient votes in the upcoming elections to reclaim its former strongholds. The party launched its election manifesto in Verulam, north of Durban.
The party, which previously had a seat in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature, has seen its support over the years dwindling. It currently has one PR Councillor in the eThekwini Metro.
Despite setbacks, the party says it will be contesting elections in all wards in eThekwini and uMsunduzi municipality in the Pietermaritzburg area.
The Minority Front was established in 1993 by its late founding leader Amichand Rajbansi. The party bases its principles on speaking up for the working class, marginalised, the poor, and predominately, the Indian community.
Most of its support is in KwaZulu-Natal, which has the largest Indian population in the country. The stronghold was due to the charismatic Rajbansi dubbed the Tiger, who drew massive support from the Chatsworth and Phoenix community.
After his passing, the party announced in 2012 that his widow; Shameen Thakur- Rajbansi would take over as party president. But the party suffered a major setback in the 2014 elections, the MF lost the only seat it had in Parliament.
However, the party’s ability to command the support of a large portion of the KwaZulu-Natal electorate puts the MF in the position of kingmakers in the province at times when support for the ANC and the IFP is evenly balanced.
This was seen in the 2000 local elections when the MF threw its weight behind the ANC and enabled the party to gain control over the Durban city council. Now, the party has its eye on two municipalities, eThekwini and uMsunduzi in Pietermaritzburg.
Minority Front leader, Shameen Thakur Rajbansi says they have fielded councillor candidates who will address housing backlogs, unemployment among the youth and resolve the aging water and electricity infrastructure.
“We are demanding that we need slum clearance, we also need decent housing, but at the same time, we are riddled with crime and corruption. Municipalities are collapsing, we want good leadership at the local level. So, we know what the people want. We need to fix aging infrastructure, the water and light issues, create local jobs as our youth are still jobless.”
Thakur Rajbansi says they want to speed up service delivery.
“We are going to finalise the investigations, we are going to fire corrupt officials, we are going to ensure that there must be blacklisting of corrupt entrepreneurs. We are going to ensure the clearing of the slums. We want to empower our community police forums and neighborhood watches to combat growing crime. We want to ensure that the council allocates a budget for capital infrastructure, that is replacing all waterpipes manholes, sewerage, storm drain systems. The strengthening of laws on air and water-polluting industries.”
Rajbansi says rural areas need to also be developed:
Some residents optimistic the party will address their issues
The manifesto launch saw a diverse group of supporters.
“I’m encouraging people to come in numbers and to come for MF because of the good things that I’ve seen them doing for people, feeding the hungry, education and job creation, that’s more important to me,” says one of the people who attended the launch.
Another person says, “I come from Reservoir Hills, we always struggle with water and electricity. The councillors are just missing and having contacted Mrs. Rajibansi she is very responsive. The MF councillors are very responsive in the area that’s why I was attracted to the party.”
The manifesto focused on youth empowerment, job creation, corruption, land reform, racism and affirmative action.