Analysts predict fierce contestation ahead of elections

2011-02-08 15:00

Political parties should brace themselves for serious contestation for positions ahead of the local government elections, political analysts warned today.

“People have already started complaining about the nomination process... I believe that this will get worse when the election nears,” said political analyst Protas Madlala.

Fierce contestations often ending in violent acts occurred because election as municipal councillors meant good salaries with perks, he said.

The African National Congress (ANC) nomination process during the 2000 local government elections was marred by violent tensions, with some party members complaining that some candidates were imposed on them.

Some disgruntled ANC members ended up standing as independent candidates.

The tensions were so serious that some candidates had to be watched over by security guards even after the elections.

Another political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said the ANC, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and its breakaway party the National Freedom Party (NFP) were likely to experience tension.

“People who have joined NFP are definitely expecting to be rewarded for doing that and those who have remained in the IFP will also want to be rewarded for that,” said Ndlovu.

He said people with no skills saw becoming councillors as a well-paying job.

“The reason why we don’t see that in parties such as the Democratic Alliance is because the majority of DA members are white people with skills. They can go to the private sector and get well-paying jobs,” he said.

Political parties needed to manage the nomination process delicately to prevent violent contestations, he said.

Ndlovu said the situation was expected to be worse in the ANC because there were still people perceived to favour former president Thabo Mbeki.

“There are still people who are not trusted because they fell in the Mbeki camp. Those will feel disappointed if they don’t get nominated.”

Sihle Zikalala, ANC secretary in KwaZulu-Natal said that involving the community in the selection of local government election candidates had helped minimise violent tension ahead of the elections.

“The process of involving the community has really minimised tensions which we saw during the previous elections,” he said.

Zikalala said the majority of ANC candidates nominated by the branches had already been introduced to the community.

According to ANC guidelines, all nominees had to be presented to a broader meeting of the community that comprised members of the branch, alliance partners and supporters registered as voters in the ward.

This process had to be overseen by the ward screening committee and the regional list committee, which made up the selection committee.

Each nominee had to be presented to the community meeting and asked the same three or four questions and given the same amount of time to respond.

If the community raised concerns about the candidate, the ANC could reconsider the nomination, he said.

Zikalala said the reason the nomination process was so fiercely contested was because being a councillor was regarded as a well-paying job.

“That is why it is important to make sure that we manage this process appropriately. The new strategy is working. We also discourage people who view deployment as a career. People are deployed to serve,” he said.

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