It’s one of the more divisive topics up for discussion during the 2019 Elections, but the subject of re-introducing the death penalty often proves to be a popular one when the politicians are on the prowl for our votes.
South Africa’s abnormally-high crime rates and propensity for gender-based violence often
In fact, these were sentiments echoed by Clare Ballard, the head of the penal reform programme of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in midweek. She said that the conversation merely deflects from the actual causes of crime:
“The death penalty is not a quick fix and it does not cure crime. Every time politicians avoid confronting the complex truths about crime and punishment, we lose a vital opportunity to examine what it will take to ensure real safety for everyone.”
Others aren’t so convinced by the need to reform violent criminals, though
South African political parties who support the death penalty:
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)
Lead by Dr Kenneth Meshoe, the ACDP are exactly what they say they are – a political party governed by religious principles. They have three seats in Parliament, so they really will need a miracle to get anywhere near the “top three” parties when South Africa goes to the polls.
African Covenant (ACO)
Sounding more like an instalment of American Horror Story, the 13-month-old party is an incredibly conservative outfit that also base their principles of those on the bible. If these lot had their way, there’d be no same-sex marriage or legal abortions in South Africa – in fact, getting an abortion could even come with its own death penalty.
African Transformation Movement (ATM)
Jimmy Manyi is certainly making waves on the political scene. His newly-formed party are proving quite popular in the Eastern Cape, and yes, they are another pseudo-religious outfit. Manyi and his organisation are convinced that the deterrent of death will help curb the crime rate in South Africa.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)
They aren’t as committal as the previous three parties, but the IFP is arguably the most vocal. They are also the most established and well-supported party that is currently making noise about the death penalty, suggesting that the country needs to hold a referendum on the issue.
Parties who have previously considered the death penalty:
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
At the dawn of their formation, Julius Malema was drumming up support by any means possible. He had previously advocated the death penalty in 2013, but he’s since cooled on that front. EFF Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has also dismissed the death penalty as a deterrent this year, saying that “only Africans” would be punished by it.
Freedom Front Plus (FF+)
Outraged by the spate of farm murders that came to the public’s attention in 2017, leader Dr Pieter Groenewald suggested that his party would implement the penalty for those who kill landowners and farmers. However, their 2019 manifesto was released in March and makes no reference to this level of punishment.
How the main parties feel about the death penalty:
African National Congress (ANC)
The ANC has never entertained it and famously overturned the death penalty when establishing the Constitution in 1995. A reversal on this position is highly unlikely from the ruling party.
Democratic Alliance (DA)
They talk a tough game on crime, but their modern-day executive leadership have never pushed to endorse the death penalty. More conservative members of the party have supported the idea in the past, but it’s never gained wholesale approval.
Single-issue death penalty parties
There was one party who ran solely on the promise to re-introduce the death penalty. The inventively-named Pro-Death Penalty Party stood during the 2004 Elections. They racked up less than 2 000 votes – which was 0.05% available for the Gauteng Legislature – and the party did not contest any further elections.