Council revamp may end killings
CALLS for changes in the way municipal councillors are elected is a step in the right direction, considering revelations this week that jockeying for positions at a municipal level is one of the main causes of the upsurge in political violence gripping KwaZuluNatal.
This view was expressed by social scientist, Professor Paulus Zulu, who told the Moerane Commission, currently sitting in Durban, that imposing a set of qualifications for public office might minimise violence.
“Positions, money and the opportunity to leapfrog from where you are are some of the main causes,” Zulu told the hearing.
It was easy for people to be elected as councillors because there were no prescribed requirements for such positions, he said. He added that, to correct this, the whole municipal council system would have to be revamped.
Zulu said “moral qualifications are also questionable” as there were people occupying public office despite having criminal records.
He said there appeared to be a culture of eliminating competitors instead of outperforming them, as was the case in the taxi industry.
“Competition is very rife in local government mainly because more positions are available there than in the national and provincial legislatures.”
Zulu’s comments come at the same time as an upsurge in the 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. Sindiso Magaqa, a former ANC Youth League secretarygeneral, was one of the councillors who was shot. His family told The Mercury this week that the shooting was related to municipal problems that Magaqa had been investigating.
Beyond policing efforts to deal with political violence, decisive action needs to be taken to bring an end to these killings. It’s hoped that the Moerane Commission will provide usable recommendations.