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ACM’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng talks 2026 elections ambitions, relationship with Zuma

Despite failing to secure a single seat in the 2024 national and provincial elections, former SABC boss-turned-politician Hlaudi Motsoeneng is not deterred. He hopes his party, the African Content Movement (ACM), will do well in the 2026 local elections.

South Africa held historic elections on 29 May where support for the ANC declined to just 40% for the first time since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

HLAUDI MOTSOENENG ON WHAT WENT WRONG IN THE RECENT POLLS

Motsoeneng launched his party in December 2018, hoping to get a seat in Parliament. Sadly, his party only managed to secure just over 4000 votes nationally in the 2019 elections. 

Following the disappointing performance, the former SABC chief operations officer said – without providing evidence – that his party’s members had mistakenly voted for parties with abbreviations similar to ACM . 

“They had already explained that, and you must remember, we are a four-month-old party, so some people were not sure when they went to the ballot box,” he said at the time.

Fast forward to 2024, the ACM again performed dismally, again failing to secure a single seat in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

This time around, Motsoeneng said they did not have resources to produce marketing materials such as elections posters or advertisements. However, Motsoeneng says the votes they received show that once the party visits most of these areas results, fortunes will be different.

“We are building a very strong servant organisation. As the founder, I believe in the objectives of ACM which is the future of the country,” he said.

Motsoeneng also thanked people who voted for ACM in the 29 May elections, especially in provinces where the ACM did not campaign, namely Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo and other parts of the Free State.

PLANS FOR THE 2026 POLLS

In the coming months, political parties will start campaigning for the 2026 local government elections and if the 2021 local government elections results are anything to go by, most municipalities in South Africa will continue to be governed through coalitions.

And Motsoeneng, speaking to The South African, says the ACM will contest in 2026, because the party is “rooted in communities”.

“This will be another opportunity for the party to build on the [two] seats we are already occupying in local government in Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality. The 2026 local government elections represent a moment to build on the gains made as the party of the future,” he said.

ACM leader Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Image: SABC News

Still cosy with Zuma?

A new entrant to South African politics that has been able to perform better than Motsoeneng’s ACM, is the Jacob Zuma-led uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party.

The fledgling party managed to get 58 National Assembly seats in their first-ever elections and due to Motsoeneng’s proximity to Zuma in the past, The South African asked the ACM leader about the current status of his relationship with the former president and his MK Party.

“My relationship with former president Jacob Zuma is fine as always. Very cordial,” Motsoeneng responded.

At the State Capture Commission in February 2020, former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo testified that Motsoeneng used to brag about knowing Zuma and having “late-night meetings” with him.

And it has been said Motsoeneng was untouchable at the SABC during Zuma’s tenure as president of South Africa, enjoying cover at the public broadcaster while facing multiple scandals, including a qualifications saga.

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