Tshidi Madia27 March 2024 | 9:12

POLITRICKING | Amplifying Amakhosi and disconnecting from 'culture of white people': Bongani Baloyi on Xiluva's goals

In this week's episode of Politricking with Tshidi Madia, Baloyi said his Xiluva party had a presence in townships, and aimed to bring stability, while reconnecting with indigenous knowledge systems.

POLITRICKING | Amplifying Amakhosi and disconnecting from 'culture of white people': Bongani Baloyi on Xiluva's goals

Xiluva party leader Bongani Baloyi in studio for Politricking with Tshidi Madia. Picture: Jacques Nelles/Eyewitness News

Bongani Baloyi, was once hailed as a shining example of what the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s main opposition, could produce, being one of the youngest and successful mayors in charge of a little-known municipality called Midvaal in Gauteng.

Today, he’s ditched the trademark blue uniform, and walks around in bright orange colours, donning an Umqele, a Zulu traditional headband.

He is the face of one of the many newcomers on the scene, vying for power in May’s general elections.

Baloyi joins Politricking with Tshidi Madia this week, sharing with the Eyewitness News politics podcast his thoughts about leading a new party and trying to put a different offer before voters.

Xiluva, a Tsonga word meaning flower, is a name picked for the outfit led by Baloyi, which he said was a deliberate decision to gravitate towards an African language that’s constantly undermined in the country.

“It's a beautiful thing, so what we are doing [is] we are giving the time, we're giving of ourselves… actually giving these flowers to the country and planting for the new generations to harvest and enjoy,” he explained.

His party aims to contest on the national ballot and across three provinces - Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.

Xiluva has not captured the imagination of potential voters or the media like RISE Mzansi or the Former President Jacob Zuma-backed uMkhonto weSizwe Party. But through its leader, some are suggesting Baloyi was instructed to start the outfit, to create a potential partner to help the African National Congress (ANC) co-govern Gauteng should it fall below the 50% majority.

The ANC in Gauteng is barely holding on to power, with many polls suggesting it will go under, leaving the country’s economic hub needing a coalition government.

Baloyi rubbished the suggestions, instead questioning some of the allegations, which have stemmed from some leaders in the DA and ActionSA, which he joined for a short stint after resigning from the main opposition.

“I’m not insulting anybody, I am just doing my thing quietly and focused and I am triggering… all the time people are always discussing my name, my name, my name…” he said, laughing.

And much like former DA leader Mmusi Maimane, Baloyi said his party was not interested in recruiting established politicians, but rather attempting to launch the careers of a new breed of political activists.

The politician said his party may not have the big bucks, but insisted on its presence in informal settlements and townships.

“If you understand, even the patterns of people coming into the province, they start off out in the periphery. And in the periphery [they] are more vulnerable… you find a mix of illegal immigrants, but you also find those who are South Africans who just survive, working themselves up to come to the CBD, and we catch them as they just arrive and [get] them involved in politics,” said Baloyi.

Baloyi’s outfit is engaged in identity politics, trying to fully explore concepts such as ubuntu, reconnecting with indigenous knowledge systems, and greater recognition of the roles of traditional leaders.

“We want to stop assimilating into the culture of white people.”

Xiluva also placed language as a key priority in changing mindsets and navigating some of the many challenges facing South Africa. Through this path, he rejected concepts in South Africa’s Constitution that speak on how some ethnic groups relate to one another.

“Don’t allow makgowa (white people), who will put money everywhere to consolidate all of the votes, and then use it for their objectives,” he remarked.

Xiluva made it onto the ballot, but the true test of this will be in the middle of April, when the Electoral Commission issues certificates to parties that qualify for the May 29th elections.

Baloyi also speaks of the politics of the new, echoing sentiments of those who believe the time has come for South Africa to have new leaders at the helm, with the more established organisations playing a smaller role in shaping the country.

“We must understand what we're voting for, and what the intention, the purpose of these parties [we] are voting for. But you must participate in democracy. These are our futures, we don’t have a lot of things that we can turn to, to determine the way forward,” he said.

Baloyi said his party, if given the chance to lead, would not produce many exciting ideas, but would instead focus on bringing stability to the country.

He also decried the role of traditional leaders in democratic South Africa, suggesting they have been sidelined by the government.

Baloyi added that traditional leaders deserve more responsibilities.

“We believe that Amakhosi these days have got no economic value, they've got no governance value, they’ve got no developmental value, all they do is just administer miniscule things,” he explained.

Baloyi claims current legislation has stripped power from traditional leaders, who he says should be part of the delivery methodology.

Xiluva also firmly believes land belongs in the hands of chiefs, and that through this, everyone will have equal access to it.