Mzwanele Manyi to work behind scenes for ATM

Mzwanele Manyi will not head to the National Assembly on the ATM ticket.
Mzwanele Manyi will not head to the National Assembly on the ATM ticket.
Image: Peggy Nkomo

New kid on the politics block, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), has decided not to send its popular leader Mzwanele Manyi to parliament instead it dispatched its little-known president Vuyolwethu Zungula and Thandiswa Marawu.

The party, which gained prominence after Manyi joined it in January, won two seats in the National Assembly in last week's general elections. Veliswa Mvenya will represent the ATM in the Eastern Cape, while Mxolisi Phakathi will be heading to KwaZulu-Natal legislatures.

In an interview with SowetanLIVE on Wednesday, Manyi said he was not sidelined and the party decided to send Zungula,31, to parliament as he was young "and very intelligent".

Manyi, the former owner of the now-defunct The New Age newspaper and 24-hour news channel ANN7, said Marawu was selected due to her experience after she worked in the Eastern Cape legislature.

"There is absolutely no issue from my side (that I'm not heading to parliament). I'm still the head of policy and I will work behind the scenes, just like everybody else in the party and strengthen the party outside parliament so that next time we get more than these two seats," he said.

"We are serious about giving young people a chance … and we will show it (by having a young representative in parliament)."

He said the party would not lose support if he's not seen in parliament debating issues of national importance with other political party leaders.

"I would still be in the public eye and I'm not lost to the public eye. The ATM needs me more in policy formulation …"

The ATM, added Manyi, would shift its focus on using "every by-election as a warm-up for the local government elections and test our messaging and posture".

"We will also be launching branches in every ward and we are calling upon all those who are interested in forming ATM branches to come forward. We only require 50 members to form an ATM branch and an annual R20 membership fee," said the former ANC member.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the ATM said in previous months the party encountered a lot of challenges that aimed to end "our very existence and many stakeholders were instrumental in the perpetuation of all these plots and schemes".

"We went from being former president (Jacob) Zuma’s allies to facing plots that aimed to deregister us – all such were cheap politics which we will purify through the candidates we will be sending to parliament as representation," read the statement.

"… our posture is parliament and various legislatures is not to be oppositionist where you argue simply because the point was raised by another political party. Ours will be a progressive, constructive and collaborative approach in the interest of South African people not our narrow political interest."

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