Coun­cil re­vamp may end killings

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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