ANC talks tough

2011-05-28 19:05

Q: Why did President Jacob Zuma feel compelled to probe communities’ complaints about the nominated ward councillors?
: It’s because we wanted a selection process that is fair for the ANC and the communities. We are compelled to act because of a number of complaints that said some of the (selection) processes were not free and fair. We got complaints that said people preferred by communities and ANC structures were removed from the list without any explanation. That’s why we took a decision that we must investigate whether there is truth (to those claims). They go against the grain of our guidelines.

Q: How was it possible for a party’s candidate lists to be manipulated on a large scale without being detected?
There’s no large-scale fraud. We can’t quantify the number of areas at this time. It’s the task team that will quantify. We are talking of isolated incidents. Even the protests were not everywhere in South Africa. They were not even half the 4 277 wards that we contested. The ANC and community (nominations) meetings were taking place not simultaneously, but at various times without the knowledge of the National Executive Committee. That’s why we are investigating all structures at all levels – from branches to provinces.

Q: Does the appointment of an investigations team mean that the ANC acknowledges that its appeals process was flawed?
When the province doesn’t deal with a complaint appropriately, the branch has every reason to send the matter to us. Do we have capacity to go to all branches as the national list committee? We don’t have. We returned the matter to the province to deal with it. Now the likelihood is that if there are issues that provinces have not dealt with even when we have sent them to deal with them, they might result in a gripe. We are left (the option) of setting up a task team to investigate.

Q: But why did you not do this earlier?
We were a little bit late coming up with our lists. We could not come up with the task team before the elections because at the time we needed to submit the names (to the Independent Electoral Commission). Now it’s up to us (to act) because we think there is a prima facie case of interference with the processes after our interaction with our communities.

Q: How are you tackling the protests over ward candidates where they started, for example, in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape?
We said we’ll attend to these matters once all councils are sworn in, not before. We don’t have the necessary time. After the announcement of results, within 14 days councils must resume work. We think all those who want to force into acting without considering matters are not affording us a chance. It’s unfair and unreal.

Q: What will happen should you find that an incumbent ward councillor was not properly selected?
We are prepared to go to a by-election. We mean it. This tests the bona fides and the honesty of the ANC. We told people that this is the process and we cannot divert from it.

Q: In some municipalities you have a slim majority, what if you lose the by-elections?
We are prepared to lose. We are a principled organisation. Whether our majority is narrow, that’s not our consideration. Even if we were to lose, we will lose with a clear conscience. It has nothing to do with whether we win or we lose.

Q: What process will you follow in removing the culprits?
As a ward candidate you are a deployee of the ANC. When the ANC decides that you are no longer deployed, why would you stand your ground? They will be asked to resign.

Q: What if a ward councillor refuses to resign?
We’ll follow the legal route. The law says if over 40% of people in ward don’t want a councillor, he can be removed.

Q: When and where is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s team starting its investigation?
They still need to meet to come up with a time-table of when they are going to start. The ANC would like them to start as soon as possible because we wouldn’t like to see this matter lingering after a month or two. Again, we would like to bring predictability and stability in municipalities. When this process is ongoing in those municipalities where these matters were identified, there might not be stability.

Q: But there’s no fixed deadline yet?
The sooner the matter is handled the better for us.

Q: What kind of a punishment will be meted out to those who are found to have interfered with the selection process?
Well, that will be determined by our disciplinary code. Again we are not a kangaroo organisation. If you have transgressed any of our principles, values and ways of doing things, you are put before a disciplinary committee of the ANC. It’s that disciplinary committee that will come up with the necessary censure.

Q: Will you still follow the same process of community consultation when you select candidates, given the problems you have encountered?
Yes. We think it strengthens democracy. But again communities must understand it’s an ANC process, not the actual election of a councillor.

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