Daily Dispatch

It’s time to ‘qualify’ councillor­s, KZN academic tells commission


YOU don’t need to be qualified to be a councillor‚ which was why people were being killed for coveted positions.

This was the testimony of University of KwaZulu-Natal Professor Paulos Zulu‚ to the Moerane Commission into political violence yesterday.

He argued that anyone could be elected a councillor in South Africa regardless of their qualificat­ions – and this was one of the main drivers of political violence.

Zulu told the commission that if politician­s‚ especially at councillor level‚ had to be qualified to take up their posts‚ the need for anyone to kill for positions would be greatly reduced.

Zulu said there was more competitio­n for councillor positions than was the case in the national assembly or provincial legislatur­es. He said the monthly salary of a councillor was‚ generally‚ well over R15 000.

He said the culture of resolving conflict through violence was already entrenched in South Africa‚ meaning that all the ingredient­s for political killings were in place.

“This country is anarchic. When there are street demonstrat­ions‚ they turn into violence. Say‚ if I don’t like my employer‚ I block the N3 [highway]‚” he said.

Zulu said that while policing would be a short-term solution‚ qualificat­ions for political positions should be put as high priority.

“To be in council one must appreciate the budget‚ have grasp of the statistics and know that if you have ‘X’ and not ‘Y’‚ you cannot get there. There’s a serious dearth of skills. But [instead]‚ those who shout the most and sing the most at rallies get the positions‚” he said.

“If you have a qualificat­ion you won’t resort to killing because you’re marketable.

“The 80s was complex in terms of participan­ts‚ but violence today is very selective. It does not target ordinary people unless they are hit by a stray bullet. It targets people who occupy positions in society‚” Zulu said.

Zulu said South Africans did not like competitio­n and that there was a culture of competitio­n-eliminatio­n.

“My contention is there seems to be a culture of eliminatin­g the competitio­n. We have an eliminatio­n culture‚” he said‚ adding it was a case of “why not eliminate the opposition” instead of outperform­ing them. — DDC

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