ANC war over election

2011-01-10 00:00

HARDLY a day after President Jacob Zuma said in his January 8 statement that “our communities want to be integrally involved in choosing their local councillors”, the community of ward 10 in kwaPata is once again embroiled in the fight over who will represent them in elections this year.

Despite yesterday being the last day for nomination of a ward candidate, the branch general meeting had to be cancelled when residents protested outside the kwaPata community hall.

Protesters who oppose retaining current councillor Musawenkosi Mchunu refused to listen to Bheki Nzimande, who was sent by the ANC to address them.

The crowd of more than 200 people said they did not want to be addressed by Nzimande, but wanted the councillor out. It is alleged that Nzimande was pushed by the angry protesters and then fled the meeting.

The commotion comes amid political tension in the area, with violent confrontations between contenders for the position of councillor and their supporters. Residents have alleged that they are deliberately not issued with ANC membership cards, thus being denied an opportunity to participate in choosing a candidate.

In the January 8 statement at the ANC’s anniversary in Polokwane on Saturday, Zuma said the ANC will continue to address the issue of non-performing councillors and deploy those who are prepared to provide diligent and selfless service.

“… In this regard, the ANC will put in place a system that allows greater community participation in choosing candidates for the 2011 local government elections,” Zuma said.

At the same time as the uproar in kwaPata, a few kilometres away at the funeral of former uMkhonto Wesizwe soldier, Major Wandile Bhengu, president of the SA National Civics Organisation Ruth Bhengu called on “power-hungry” ANC leaders “to stop being gate-keepers who prevent people from joining the organisation in order to protect their positions”.

Also at the funeral, Cosatu KZN chairperson Chris Ndlela said Cosatu will only support leaders who have the interests of workers at heart.

At the same event, SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande also raised the issue of some ANC leaders withholding membership cards to prevent people from voting for candidates.

Last month, kwaPata councillor Mchunu was arrested for allegedly assaulting a man related to his opponent.

Outside the hall yesterday, resident Msizi Ngcobo said that before voting on nominations, those present hoped to get a response from the regional executive committee on their grievance about Mchunu and their call for the branch executive to step down, as well as their claim that not everyone got their membership cards.

Mchunu said that currently no one is stepping in as a councillor and no one is stepping down. “… As much as I understand that there are people who want me to step down, they should follow the correct procedures instead of being violent,” he said.

Secretary of the Moses Mabhida region Supa Zuma said he could not comment until he received a report from Bheki Nzimande.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala also could not comment in detail, but said: “We don’t support fighting over positions and we assure the public that the region will deal with the matter.”

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