Re­vamp sys­tem to choose coun­cil­lors

No re­quire­ments leads to crim­i­nal be­hav­iour

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - BHEKI MBANJWA

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.

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