‘Killing coun­cil­lors killing democ­racy’

THREATS, AS­SAS­SI­NA­TIONS: MOST WON’T RE­TURN Two out of three mem­bers of mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils re­ported be­ing threat­ened.

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - NEWS - Eric Naki – er­icn@ci­ti­zen.co.za

Many mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lors are so scared that the ma­jor­ity of them may quit their jobs at the end of their terms, while mu­nic­i­pal man­agers (MMs) are re­sign­ing due to fear of as­sas­si­na­tions, threats and in­tim­i­da­tion.

A re­port re­leased by the South African Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (Salga) in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day showed more than 55% of coun­cil­lors feared to run for pub­lic of­fice in the next term.

The ma­jor­ity of mu­nic­i­pal man­agers (65%) said the sit­u­a­tion was so se­vere that they con­tem­plated re­sign­ing.

Salga pres­i­dent Parks Tau said they found that it was not only KwaZulu-Natal that was af­fected, but it was a na­tional trend. He de­scribed the killings and in­tim­i­da­tion as an “af­front to democ­racy it­self”. Tau called it a “dis­turb­ing trend”. The sur­vey re­vealed there was a high num­ber of res­ig­na­tions by coun­cil­lors and MMs, with only 30% of coun­cil­lors re­turn­ing to of­fice for fur­ther terms.

He said agents provo­ca­teurs desta­bilised not only the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, but the en­tire coun­try.

The study was done among MMs who at­tended the Mu­nic­i­pal Man­agers Fo­rum and coun­cil­lors at the Na­tional Mem­bers As­sem­bly early in 2016. The re­port, ti­tled Vi­o­lence in Democ­racy: The Po­lit­i­cal Killing and In­tim­i­da­tion of Lo­cal Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Ad­min­is­tra­tors, col­lected data from 54 coun­cil­lors and 40 MMs.

A to­tal of 66% of the coun­cil­lors re­ported be­ing threat­ened while 46% were of­ten threat­ened. More male coun­cil­lors were threat­ened with phys­i­cal vi­o­lence or dam­age to prop­erty than women, but women re­ceived threats against their fam­i­lies and were some­times threat­ened with rape.

Salga CEO Xo­lile Ge­orge said those at the level of speaker and chief whip ap­peared more likely to re­ceive threats than ward and pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion coun­cil­lors.

The MMs were be­ing tar­geted around the award­ing of ten­ders, em­ploy­ment and wages or salaries.

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