Parties contesting in Beaufort West (Jenni Evans, News24)
Beaufort West - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema is yet to make the long journey down the N1 to Beaufort West in the Western Cape, but the party's municipal election candidates there are predicting a shake-up of the old order.
True to its promise to contest all 257 municipalities in the country - and 402 wards in the Western Cape - the EFF hopes to breathe new life into the traditional tussle between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the oldest municipality in the country.
It is the first time the party is contesting municipal elections, and it will be up against nine political parties and one independent candidate for the coveted crosses of the 26 027 voters registered there.
The town is probably most famous for its controversial Mayor Truman Prince. The fact that Prince is standing for mayor again has astonished many in the opposition.
Among those who want him and the ANC out are EFF proportional representation (PR) candidate Shakes Mpeteng and Ward 1 Murraysburg EFF candidate Kenneth Ngqiqi.
They allege that, under Prince's watch, nepotism in the council has been rife, the roads are bad, young people cannot find jobs, and there are more taverns than other businesses in the suburbs - which aggravates socio-economic problems.
ANC counting on history
Ngqiqi said he has been lobbying for the council to reopen a deserted cultural centre at the edge of town, to give young people a place to nurture their talents in the arts and to have a safe place to hang out.
"They have been saying there is no money for five years. But they threw money at a soccer event recently," said Ngqiqi, a keen chorister. "People are tired of fiddling around and waiting."
"They are depending on history," said Mpeteng of the ANC.
"They are not going to cruise this election," vowed Mpeteng, who has business studies and IT qualifications, but cannot find work. "It is going to be very difficult for them."
For his part, Prince told News24 in an earlier interview that he admired the EFF for its radicalism, but did not think its municipal policies were implementable.
The EFF launched its Central Karoo command team in Beaufort West in 2013 and, since then, it has been left to people like Mpeteng to keep the party on the map in the vast region.
DA making its presence felt
This has not been easy, with the local newspaper Die Courier, carrying very little on the spirited disruptors.
The population of Beaufort West was put at 51 080 in StatsSA's recently released community survey results, out of the 6.2 million people living in the province. This was up from the 49 521 living in Beaufort West according to the 2011 census.
The DA is also making its presence felt in Beaufort West, choosing constituency officer Koos "Djorge" Maloy as its mayoral candidate.
Beaufort West is also the hometown of Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille and it is the constituency of Sharna Hernandez, who is the Speaker in the Western Cape legislature. Both are on a DA ticket.
The ANC got 50.8% of the vote in 2011, with Beaufort West the only municipality it won with an outright majority in the Western Cape.
This was followed by the DA at 41.2%. Congress of the People (Cope) got 1.8%, the Independent Civic Organisation of SA (Icosa) got 4.3%, the Independent Congress got 0.26%, the National People's Party received 1.21% of the vote and the SA Progressive Civic Organisation obtained 0.28%.
This time around the ANC, Cope, DA, EFF, Freedom Front Plus, SA Religious Civics Organisation, Icosa, Pan Africanist Congress, Karoo Democratic Force, and independent candidate Ralph Esterhuizen will be fighting it out.
The EFF's Ngqiqi predicts a coalition for the council between the DA and the EFF after the August 3 poll. But he denied that it would be at the expense of the party's manifesto.
"There will have to be a contract between the DA and the EFF, for the benefit of the people," he said.
In a document explaining the party's municipal election manifesto, Malema noted that municipalities are hamstrung by the amount of revenue they can bring in, and by possible political manipulation of the size and scope of the grants and subsidies they receive.
Some of the EFF "people's municipality" promises include:
- At least 50% of the basic goods, services and produce consumed in a municipality are manufactured, processed or assembled within that municipality;
- No more consultants for basic municipal functions;
- Service centres to be open six days a week to accommodate full-time workers;
- All apartheid street names will be renamed and apartheid-statues and symbols destroyed;
- EFF councillors will be expected to be parent figures to all orphans in their wards, and to make sure that all families have food;
- The party would pass by-laws to expropriate land and allocate land to all residents on a "use or lose it" basis;
- It would establish a local human settlements department and provide government housing with a minimum of two bedrooms.
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