Local government elections

By Drum Digital
05 May 2011

IF YOU paid a visit to even the smallest South African town this week you would see political party posters everywhere. The campaign budgets have been spent, the rallying speeches have been made and party rivalry has reached fever pitch. But as the municipal elections loom, possibly the most enduring image of the 2011 vote will be the infamous killing of Ficksburg activist Andries Tatane. He will be remembered as a martyr for the cause of service delivery – the man who showed us that these elections are literally a matter of life and death.

The most significant legacy left by Tatane's death is that 17 years after democracy the real battle for improving the lives of South Africans is happening at local level. And that's why the municipal elections on 18 May have become so significant. It's not just in Ficksburg that anger about basic services such as water provision and refuse removal has boiled over. In Sannieshof in the North West and in Ngwathe and Mafube in the Free State things are so bad that residents and ratepayers' associations have come together to take control of basic services. A recent report by the institute promoting democracy in South African, Idasa, showed that just one in 10 South Africans are satisfied with the performance of their local government.

Read the article in the Drum of 12 May 2011 – and share your views below.

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