Revamp system to choose councillors
No requirements leads to criminal behaviour
THE jostling for positions at municipal level is one of the main causes of the upsurge in political violence gripping KwaZulu-Natal, believes social scientist, Professor Paulus Zulu.
Zulu told the Moerane Commission, sitting in Durban, that imposing a set of qualifications for public office may minimise violence.
“Positions, money and the opportunity to leapfrog from where you are, are some of the main causes,” said Zulu.
He said it is easy for people to be elected councillors as there are no prescribed requirements for such positions, and that most councillors are people who would not be employable elsewhere, he said. “For people to get positions, all they have to do is shout the loudest, sing and dance the most.”
He said to correct this, the whole municipal council system would have to be revamped.
Zulu added that “moral qualifications are also questionable” as there are people who occupy public office despite having criminal records. He cited politicians implicated in the travelgate scandal as an example.
Zulu has studied political violence in the province since the 1980s and has published extensive research on the subject. He said unlike the violence of the 1980s, the current violence is more selective as it is targeted at leadership.
“My contention is that there seems to be a culture of eliminating the competitor instead of outperforming them. It is also the same in taxi violence.”
Competition was rife in local government mainly because there are more positions available than in the national and provincial legislatures, he said.
Zulu’s comments come after an upsurge in killings of councillors and municipal officials in towns such as Umzimkhulu and Richmond. Last week, three ANC councillors in Umzimkhulu survived an assassination attempt, after gunmen opened fire on them.
On Monday, the commission heard from community activist Vanessa Burger that most of the hitmen involved in political assassinations are based at the Glebelands hostel.
The commission, chaired by Advocate Marumo Moerane, is investigating the causes of all politically-related killings recorded in KwaZulu-Natal since 2011.
Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza, the chairperson of the provincial House of Traditional Leaders, also testified at the commission saying amakhosi were deeply concerned by the killings. Chiliza said the current killings are linked to the violence of the 1980s and the early 1990s.
“What we need is to have a cleansing ceremony which will involve all political parties.”
He said such a process should be led by King Goodwill Zwelithini and should involve all traditional leaders in the province.
He said the king and traditional leaders had been very instrumental in ending faction fighting in the province and the same could be achieved with political violence.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Peter Munns, the chairperson of the Christian Coalition, said what was needed to solve the political violence was a peace accord. This would involve civil society, various interest groups, the business community and government.
“The politicians are in denial that we are in crisis,” he said, adding that crime and violence had a negative impact on tourism and investor confidence.