Pretoria - Fights and factions are emerging as political parties finalise their candidate lists ahead of the Local Government Elections.
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Democratic Alliance members on ward 72 in Atteridgeville, Pretoria have threatened not to canvas and support the party if their preferred candidate is not on the list.
“As a party we keep complaining about corruption and stopping it but now they have chosen a candidate for us. We were never part of the selection process to appoint that individual,” a party member from ward 72 told News24.
“If they continue like this then we will not participate in the upcoming elections and canvas for the party.”
Members of the group told News24 that they were not supporting Donald Lebego and wanted another person to be on the list. They said the man was unknown in the area. They alleged that they approached their regional structures wanting to lodge a complaint and appeal Lebego’s appointment but they were not assisted.
“We spoke to our chairperson in Atteridgeville on Friday morning but we were told that it was too late to do anything about it. We are not happy with the candidate they have selected and they must change him,” said one member of the group.
DA federal council deputy chairperson Thomas Walters accused the group of jumping the gun by approaching the media and refuted the claims that the regional leadership did not want to hear their appeal.
He said there was an appeals committee in the party of which the deadline for the appeals process was 16:00 last week Friday. He said the party was now looking at all the appeals that were submitted before the 16:00 deadline.
“Going to the media and saying our appeal was not heard is jumping the gun. You need to ask yourself questions like did they put an appeal together? Did they submit the appeal to the party? There is no way that people can claim credibly that their appeals were not heard when the process closed on Friday,” he said.
Walters explained that their candidates went through a rigorous process before they were elected into positions.
“The process of the party is that we have the Electoral College where candidates with popularity are represented and if you go past that it shows you have support from your local structures.
“In Tshwane, we send all our candidates to the final process where we have a selection panel which is an independent body that interviewed all the candidates. It’s not just local popularity that is important but also the ability to govern, the ability to engage with legislation, the ability to deal with budgets. There are a number of factors that are taken into consideration,” he said.
He added that the region in Tshwane had gone as far as assisting people to draft appeals. He said they went as far as having a facility and people available to actively assist members in drafting the appeals to ensure they went to the right place and in the right format.
Insiders within the party have however painted a different picture of the process. They said in certain areas members have meetings where they decide on a name that they will give to the region and then that name gets sent to the province and national.
They mentioned nothing about having to apply for the position.
‘Smear campaign’ accusation
Lebego told News24 that he applied for the position to become a ward councillor in 2015 and only completed the process a week ago when the results were released. He said there was a smear campaign to kick him to the side. He disputed the notion that he was not from the area or did not have a strong backing.
“I started the branch in ward 72. I’m the one who recruited and signed the membership cards of those people who are now claiming I’m not from here. I joined the party in 2011 and have been a member ever since. I’m surprised when they say I’m not from the area,” he said.
Political parties in the country are finalizing their lists of candidates to contest the upcoming elections. Structures within parties have however expressed unhappiness with some of the names that appear on their lists.
In Pietermaritzburg, ward 12 residents blocked the Edendale Road at Georgetown while ward 18 residents blocked the R56 (the Richmond road).
The two protests that have been continuing on and off for about two weeks, intensified after the protesters got the message that tomorrow is the IEC cutoff date for candidates’ registration.
‘No service delivery’
In Edendale, residents had been protesting over the nomination of current ANC councillor Sibonelo Majola because, according to them, there has been no service delivery in the ward since he took over as the councillor, 10 years ago.
The protesters last week staged a protest to the party’s regional offices, saying the region had taken too long to respond to their complaints.
By Monday afternoon, protesters had already started blockading the road with burning tyres and poles.
Majola denied that there had been no service delivery during his tenure and blamed “people who cannot accept the outcomes of democratic process” for the protest.
Regional secretary Mzi Zuma said he did not understand what the concerns of the Edendale protesters were.
“They had lodged an appeal about the branch general meeting which had elected the candidates. The provincial list committee attended the matter and found that there were no issues in the nomination process.
“I do not understand what they mean when say the party has not responded to their concerns,” he said.
Chaos also broke out on Richmond Road as residents from the Mpumelelo settlement blockaded the road with burning tyres and trees. The protesters demanded that current councillor Sindisiwe Gwala be removed from the party’s list of candidates for the 2016 local government elections. They accused Gwala of neglecting Mpumelelo and only prioritising services to Imbali section 14 where she is from.
The protesters alleged that since Gwala came into power, she had not been to France once, adding that she had snubbed a number of meetings they had invited her to. “She is unapproachable,” said one protester.
The South African Communist Party in the eThekwini region threatened to pull out of the ANC's local government election campaign, because it was not satisfied with the candidate nomination lists.
It has also hit back at comments, purportedly made by deputy chairperson of the ANC and newly appointed premier, Willies Mchunu, at a rally at the weekend. The SACP’s Magwaza Maphalala District [eThekwini] executive committee met at the weekend to discuss the latest political developments in the province.
‘Accept the results’
It said that Mchunu had allegedly told a gathering at Moses Mabhida Stadium's People's Park that people must accept the results of the nomination processes and not challenge them.
The party said in a statement that it respected Mchunu as a central committee member of the SACP deployed in Moses Mabhida in KwaZulu-Natal.
"Among other things that comrade Willies mentioned was that he was retiring from politics and comrade Zandile Gumede, the current ANC regional chairperson’s faction, recalled him into politics.
"To us this is a payback period to the faction. In essence, he simply meant that he owes his current political existence to Zandile’s faction."
The SACP said it would not accept candidates who were nominated fraudulently against the people's will.
Today is the final day for political parties to submit the list of names of the people who will be contesting the elections on August 3.