Heavenly party could give ANC hell in Free State by-elections
The ANC is fielding candidates against its former councillors in by-elections in the Free State on Wednesday, along with a little-known but colourfully named party.
The Heavenly Economic and Political Freedom Programme (HEPFP) is one of six political parties contesting the by-elections in the debt-ridden Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality, which encompasses the towns of Phuthaditjhaba‚ Harrismith and Kestell, as well as QwaQwa's rural areas.
There are 15 vacant seats, caused by the ANC expelling councillors from the party for rebelling against the provincial executive committee by voting to elect Gilbert Mokotso as the mayor of Maluti.
Mokotso is among the ousted ANC candidates and is now standing as an independent.
The ANC defend 15 wards today in Maluti a Phofung in the Free State. The ANC expelled 15 councillors who are all running as Independents. 14/15 wards were won easily by the ANC in 2016. The 1 marginal ward is W34 but the party who came 2nd in 2016 (Aula) is not contesting today.— Wayne Sussman (@waynesussman) August 28, 2019
Candidates are also being fielded by the ANC, EFF, DA, ACM and ATM.
HEPFP’s founder and leader, Patrick Sentimile, is the lone candidate representing his party in the elections.
He said his party could not place candidates in all 15 wards in Wednesday’s by-elections because HEPFP was financially unstable.
The party's registration was approved by the IEC on January 27 2016, in time to contest that year’s local government elections.
Sentimile said he broke away from the EFF in 2014, after the national elections, and formed his party.
He said he first named it New Economic Freedom Fighters, but this name could not be registered with the electoral commission because it closely resembled that of the EFF.
He said one of his party's visions was sharing wealth among the poor.
Sentimile said though the party was registered to contest the 2016 local government elections, it withdrew because of a misunderstanding.
He said HEPFP could also not contest the 2019 national and provincial elections in May due to “financial strains”.
Even though Sentimile cast his vote on Wednesday, he said the party had launched an objection to the by-elections with the Electoral Commission on Monday, because the voters’ roll contained names of people who did not reside in the wards concerned.