Tshwane protest. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)
Durban – South Africans do not realise their democracy is at stake, KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said on Tuesday.
“We are sitting with a very serious threat to our communities. The face of democracy is local government and it is not working,” she said at a discussion on the prospects for a peaceful election in KwaZulu-Natal.
She said recent protests were nothing compared to what South Africa would see after the elections because issues affecting communities were not being addressed.
“We need to have a serious dialogue about democracy because there is no democracy in these elections. People are thinking of spoiling votes and changing parties. That is not democracy.”
De Haas, a researcher who had been monitoring violence in KwaZulu-Natal for decades, shared the sentiments of Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) provincial chairperson Mawethu Mosery.
He questioned the quality of the candidates contesting in the August 3 local government elections.
Unhappiness about the nomination of candidates to contest the elections has resulted in protests and clashes over the past few months.
On Monday, ANC members in several areas around Tshwane began protesting against Thoko Didiza’s nomination as the metro’s mayoral candidate. At least 19 buses were set alight, shops were looted and City of Tshwane employees had to be withdrawn from the areas for their safety.
Earlier this month, residents of KwaMashu and Inanda, Durban, protested against candidate lists.
Too much power
De Haas said councillors enjoyed too much power and were no longer working to ensure people had services. Some did their jobs, while others were seen once every five years, at election time.
“Being a councillor today is about lining your pockets if you are unscrupulous and buying votes through patronage. It is no longer about democracy or service delivery.”
Councillors had to be monitored, to ensure they did their jobs.
“They need to be out there making sure they deal with people problems and making sure that people get their social delivery.”
She challenged faith-based organisations to get more involved and said the country’s inequality was a ticking time bomb.
“The poor people out there are the ones that need us. They are helpless.”
She said South Africans had lost their moral compass.
“We are floundering, and morality in this place is gone. It all starts with family, we need to go back to basics.”
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