Election 2019: Meet SA’s top five party leaders

South Africans go to the polls on 8 May 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - It is less than a month until South Africans make their choice between a record number of 48 political parties on the 2019 general election ballot.

This will be the sixth time since the end of apartheid that voters will have the right to decide which political party will guide the nation’s decisions.

In the foregoing months, several parties have been pulling all the stops to gain voters’ support.

But who are the leaders behind the political banners?

Here is a look at South Africa’s top five political leaders according to the number of seats their parties currently have in the National Assembly:
 

1. Cyril Ramaphosa

President of the Republic of South Africa and African National Congress leader, Cyril Ramaphosa.

President of the Republic of South Africa and ANC leader, Cyril Ramaphosa.

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Current leader of the ANC and President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa was born on 17 November 1952.

 

After obtaining his law degree from the University of South Africa in 1981, Ramaphosa joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) as an advisor in the legal department.

In 1982, Ramaphosa -- along with James Motlatsi and Elijah Barayi -- founded the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and rose to be its first General Secretary.

In 1991, he was elected as ANC secretary-general and proceeded to assume the role of chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly in 1994.

In his business career, Ramaphosa was the executive chairperson of Shanduka Group, which he founded in 2001.

He also became the First Deputy Chairperson of Commonwealth Business Council and served as the deputy chairperson of the National Planning Commission from 2010 until 2014.

Land reform, the economy and the 2017 listeriosis outbreak are some of the most notable issues Ramaphosa has tackled in his capacity as president.

Fast facts:

  • The ANC was founded in 1912.
  • Their headquarters is Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
  • The ANC's colours are black, green and gold.
  • In the 1994 elections, the ANC received 12,237,655 votes and 252 seats in the National Assembly.
  • In the 2014 elections, the ANC received 11,436,921 votes and 249 seats in the National Assembly.

2. Mmusi Maimane

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.

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Mmusi Maimane has been the federal leader of South Africa’s opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) since 10 May 2015 and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly of South Africa since 29 May 2014.

He was formally the deputy federal chairperson, the DA national spokesperson and the leader of the DA caucus in the City of Johannesburg Municipal Council.

Born on 6 June 1980, Maimane grew up in Soweto and went on to achieve a Master’s Degree in Theology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. He speaks seven South African languages.

The DA’s share of the vote in Gauteng grew under Maimane’s administration in the 2014 election, but the ANC kept its hold over the province.

Following this, he was sworn in as a member of the National Assembly and went on to become the first black male to hold the post of leader of the opposition.

Maimane is a philanthropist and chairs a number of NGO boards and foundations in which he is involved focus primarily on HIV/AIDS and rural and youth development.

Fast facts:

  • The DA was founded in 2000.
  • Their headquarters is in Cape Town.
  • The DA's colour is blue.
  • In the 2004 elections, the DA received 1,931,201 votes and 50 seats in the National Assembly.
  • In the 2014 elections, the DA received 4,091,584 votes and 89 seats in the National Assembly.

3. Julius Malema

Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Julius Malema.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Julius Malema.

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Julius Sello Malema, born on 3 March 1981, is the current leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and a Member of Parliament.

In 2010 and 2017, Malema received a diploma in youth development and a BA Honours in Philosophy from UNISA respectively.

In 2012, at the age of 31, he was expelled from the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) after serving as its president since 2008.

In March 2010 and September 2011, he was convicted of hate speech and was further charged with fraud, money-laundering and racketeering in 2012.

Malema went on to form the EFF in 2013.
 

Malema is widely known for his extensive criticism of the media, various legal issues and controversial comments on race.

In the EFF’s most recent media briefing, Malema criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ability to stay in office, announced he is suing a former party member who labelled him as a thief and rejected the proposed burning of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book, “Gangster State”.

Fast facts:

  • The EFF was founded in 2013.
  • Their headquarters is in Johannesburg.
  • The EFF's colour is red.
  • In the 2014 elections, the EFF received 1,169,259 votes and 25 seats in the National Assembly.

4. Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Founder and current leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Founder and current leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

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Mangosuthu Buthelezi was born on 27 August 1928 in Mahlabathini, KwaZulu to Chief Mathole Buthelezi and Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu.

He is a Member of Parliament and the founder and current leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

Buthelezi studied at the University of Fort Hare from 1948 to 1950 and joined the ANCYL. He was expelled after taking part in student boycotts but later completed his degree at the University of Natal.

In 1972, he became Chief Executive Councillor to the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly and from 1976 to 1994 served as Chief Minister of KwaZulu.
 

In 1975, Buthelezi founded Inkatha yeNkulukelo yeSizwe, later renamed as the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Through Inkatha, he joined the struggle to end apartheid and campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.

Following the first democratic elections in April 1994, Buthelezi became the national Minister of Home Affairs.

Buthelezi recently announced he will not be standing for re-election at the party's elective conference later this year.

The IFP's National Council has endorsed its KZN secretary Velenkosini Hlabisa as its presidential candidate in the upcoming general elections.

Fast facts:

  • The IFP was founded in 1975.
  • Their headquarters is in Durban.
  • The IFP's colours are red, white, black, green and yellow.
  • In the 1994 elections, the IFP received 2,058,294 votes and 43 seats in the Government of National Unity.
  • In the 2014 elections, the IFP received 441,854 votes and 10 seats in the National Assembly.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi recently announced he will not be standing for re-election at the party's elective conference later this year. Courtesy of DSTV403

5. Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi

Leader of the National Freedom Party, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi.

Leader of the National Freedom Party, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi.

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Born on 1 February 1962 in Makhosini, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi is a current Member of Parliament, the former Mayor of Zululand District Municipality and the leader of the National Freedom Party (NFP).

Magwaza-Msibi is a former school principal who holds a BA degree from the University of Zululand and diplomas in Further Education and in Local Government from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

She joined the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in 1975 and served as the party’s branch chairperson in 1976 before joining the executive committee of the Youth and the Women’s Brigade in 1988 and becoming national secretary in the later years.

In 1995, she was the only woman on the executive board of the Nongoma Transitional Local Council.

The following year, she was elected Chairperson of the Emakhosini Subregion, which comprised Ulundi and Babanango.
 

The National Freedom Party, along with leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, launch an election campaign in 2016 in Lindelani, outside Durban

The National Freedom Party, along with leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, launch an election campaign in 2016 in Lindelani, outside Durban.

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Magwaza-Msibi left the IFP to form the NFP on 25 January 2011.

In 2014, former President Jacob Zuma announced the appointment of Magwaza-Msibi as the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology.

Fast facts:

  • The NFP was founded in 2011.
  • Their headquarters is in Durban.
  • The NFP's colours are orange and green.
  • In the 2014 elections, the NFP received 288,742 votes and 6 seats in the National Assembly.
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