Unsuitable nominees

2011-01-24 00:00

IF the stories doing the rounds in local ANC circles are to be believed, two prostitutes, a known criminal and a family member of a gang boss are some of the people standing for nomination as ANC candidates in the forthcoming local government election.

The Witness has reported on the turbulent nomination process in local wards: venues changed at the last minute to exclude members from participating in the nomination process and card-carrying members not being notified about meetings.

There have been fights in several wards between different factions, each wanting their own candidate. In a ward in Pietermaritzburg's northern suburbs, the ANC's own constitutional requirements are not being met. A candidate has to be a member for at least a year before he or she can stand for nomination. In this ward neither the nominee nor the people who nomina­ted him have been members for very long.

It is believed that the situation is so out of hand that last week minibus-loads of disgruntled ANC members from the uMgungundlovu region went to the ANC offices in Durban demanding that the province look at how the regional executive committee is handling the nomination process.

A meeting was subsequently held in the A.F. Wood Hall in Boom Street and the nomination process has been put on hold. The pro­vince has said it will report back within two weeks.

The situation is not confined to the KZN midlands.

The New Age reported on Thursday that ANC general meetings to nominate party candidates for the forthcoming local government election have degenerated into anarchy and chaos across the country as people fight for positions. The situation has forced the party to extend the deadline for branches to complete the nomination process.

This year the party announced a new selection process whereby communities will be allowed to scrutinise the candidates nominated and give their input.

So far this does not seem to have happened: I have not seen adverts nor posters for such meetings; nor have canvassers come knocking at my door. Perhaps this is still to happen.

Prostitutes and known gang members as councillors! I can almost hear the groans of disgust. But we do live in a democracy and as long as a candidate does not have a criminal record, he or she is eligible to stand.

However, parties will have to check carefully that they are not nominating felons, because if they do not, the Independent Electoral Commission will certainly be checking and by that stage it may be too late to find a replacement as the nomination process will be closed.

The ANC is too entrenched as the ruling party for the calibre of councillors to affect its chances at the polls. However, it will do well for the party to consider the bigger picture. Will the councillor enjoy the support of the community or will this lead to service delivery protests in wards or just plain resistance to whatever the councillor proposes?

We have seen this happen since the last municipal election. Take Eastwood, for example. During the last local government election there was great unhappiness at the manner in which the councillor was elected. Party members in the ward were disgruntled that they were not informed of the nomination meeting. The result is that the councillor has met with resistance at every turn.

In the northern suburbs where wards were previously held by the Democratic Alliance there is concern that the calibre of the nominees could well see the ANC handing back certain wards on a platter to the DA.

However, the biggest concern is over the actual running of municipalities. We've already seen the implosion of Msunduzi Municipality, precisely because councillors were not playing their watchdog role and certain councillors themselves were implicated in the shenanigans that brought city hall to its knees.

The spotlight currently is on improving the running of municipalities and raising service delivery targets. There are a number of issues that will demand engagement, such as newly introduced performance management systems, turnaround strategies and the review of funding formulas.

All of this means that from day one councillors will have to be trained, and take their training seriously, to cope with the plethora of local government legislation and regulations that will govern their term of office.

In his state of the organisation report at the national general council meeting in Durban, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the ANC is well aware that it is increasingly attracting people interested only in self-enrichment. He said using the party as a stepping stone to power and accumulation is an alien tendency in the ANC.

A test of the party's commitment in dealing with this "alien tendency" will be how it resolves the chaos around the nomination processes, both nationally and here in the uMgungundlovu region.

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