ANC wary of op­por­tunists in run-up to mu­nic­i­pal polls

Pretoria News - - SAFETY - SIHLE MAVUSO [email protected] MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA [email protected]

THE ANC in KZN says it is not go­ing to al­low com­mu­nity protests calling for the re­moval of may­ors to be used by po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunists to po­si­tion them­selves for power in the run-up to next year’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to In­de­pen­dent Me­dia yes­ter­day just be­fore the party’s two-day provin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing in Durban, provin­cial chair­per­son and pre­mier Sihle Zikalala said they were aware that protests were of­ten hi­jacked by op­por­tunists.

As a re­sult, Zikalala said they had de­vel­oped a strat­egy to en­sure that op­por­tunism did not suc­ceed.

He was, how­ever, quick to say that the strat­egy did not over­ride gen­uine com­mu­nity protests in favour of keep­ing their may­ors in power.

The un­der­tak­ing came days af­ter the rul­ing party or­dered Al­fred Duma (Ladysmith) mu­nic­i­pal­ity mayor Vin­cent Mad­lala to take sick leave to al­low the party to lis­ten to vi­o­lent pro­test­ers who had shut down the town for the past two weeks.

Crit­ics said shift­ing may­ors ev­ery time there was a protest opened an op­por­tu­nity for mem­bers of the com­mu­nity who wanted to be coun­cil­lors and may­ors in next year’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions to hi­jack le­git­i­mate protests.

“I think that is a se­ri­ous con­cern that we are hav­ing, but we reached a de­ci­sion not to sus­pend the mayor (Mad­lala) but to ac­cept that he wanted leave be­cause he was not well… We are de­vel­op­ing that ap­proach (of con­tain­ing op­por­tunism) and I think we are all cau­tioned to en­sure that we deal with op­por­tunists who try to po­si­tion them­selves and un­der­mine sit­ting coun­cil­lors or the cur­rent may­ors. We will not act hap­haz­ardly but also not act against the com­mu­nity. So we have to bal­ance the two, what the com­mu­nity is say­ing and what is the process and the process does not al­low that you just with­draw the mayor,” Zikalala said.

Ladysmith is not the first KZN town to ex­pe­ri­ence such protests and with the ANC re­mov­ing may­ors. It started in Man­deni in March last year where the ANC was forced to re­call for­mer mayor Siph­e­sile Zulu, who was ac­cused of cor­rup­tion (he de­nies this and there is an on­go­ing probe).

Zulu pointed fin­gers at his re­gional en­e­mies.

In Jan­uary, there was a vi­o­lent shut­down of New­cas­tle and the mayor there, Ntuthuko Mahlaba, said the protests were proxy funded to oust him be­cause he was fight­ing cor­rup­tion that was ben­e­fit­ing his op­po­nents in the eMalahleni re­gion.

To a lesser ex­tent, there have been shut­downs in Dumbe and Port Shep­stone, but the may­ors were not af­fected.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Tha­bani Khu­malo said it was a given that op­por­tunists would use the protests to po­si­tion them­selves for power.

“Op­por­tunists are def­i­nitely go­ing to use the com­mu­nity protests in the run-up to the elec­tions year to pave the way for them­selves to power… The protests are go­ing to spi­ral as the elec­tions get closer,” Khu­malo said.

An­other po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst, Ralph Mathekga, said for the ANC to avoid hav­ing may­ors re­moved from power the party al­ways had to be trans­par­ent in re­mov­ing may­ors. “The re­moval of a mayor cre­ates a po­si­tion for some­one else…,” he said.

THE of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion wants to clip the pow­ers of Po­lice Min­is­ter Bheki Cele on the ap­point­ment of the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate (Ipid).

The DA wants a much more par­tic­i­pa­tory process that would see the pub­lic have more say in the ap­point­ment of the watch­dog body’s head.

The move comes against the back­drop of Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa still hav­ing to as­sent to an amend­ment bill that was ap­proved by the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces late last year in com­pli­ance with a 2016 Con­sti­tu­tional Court rul­ing.

This as act­ing Ipid act­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Vic­tor Senna was re­placed by Pa­trick Set­shedi ear­lier this month, head of in­ves­ti­ga­tions Matthews Se­soko was sus­pended and in­ves­ti­ga­tor Mand­lakayise Mahlangu was killed last week.

Yes­ter­day, DA MP An­drew Whit­field

said his party would ta­ble a pri­vate mem­bers’ bill to amend the Ipid Act in or­der to limit the pow­ers of Cele to ap­point the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the po­lice watch­dog.

“Ipid is in a state of com­plete chaos due to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence and a lack of lead­er­ship,” Whit­field said.

He said the amend­ment made last year to the Ipid Act did not go far enough. Whit­field added that the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion pro­vided for the min­is­ter to “nom­i­nate a suit­ably qual­i­fied per­son”, who Par­lia­ment’s po­lice com­mit­tee should ei­ther con­firm or re­ject.

“The DA is of the view that this process is prob­lem­atic be­cause it gives too much power to the min­is­ter and re­duces the role of the com­mit­tee to a mere tick-box ex­er­cise, while open­ing the direc­torate up to un­due po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.”

Whit­field said his party’s pro­posed amend­ment pro­vided for an in­de­pen­dent panel to short­list can­di­dates.

“The com­mit­tee would then in­ter­view the can­di­dates and rec­om­mend a pre­ferred can­di­date to the min­is­ter. The process would also al­low for pub­lic com­ments on the short­listed can­di­dates,” he said.

“We also trust that th­ese amend­ments would speed up the process of ap­point­ing a per­ma­nent Ipid head. The in­sti­tu­tion has had an act­ing head for the past year, and de­spite con­tin­ued as­sur­ances by Min­is­ter Bheki Cele, he con­tin­ues to drag his feet.”

Whit­field said their pro­posed amend­ments would also al­low for greater par­lia­men­tary over­sight in the ap­point­ment of an Ipid head, re­duce the chance of a po­lit­i­cal ap­point­ment and en­sure pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ap­point­ment process.

“Th­ese amend­ments are crit­i­cal to en­sure that sta­bil­ity is re­stored at Ipid.”

Last Novem­ber, the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­ince’s se­lect com­mit­tee on se­cu­rity and jus­tice had noted that it had re­stricted it­self to rem­edy court-iden­ti­fied un­con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions in the Ipid Act.

This was de­spite the com­mit­tee re­ceiv­ing seven writ­ten sub­mis­sions that rec­om­mended broader amend­ments to the bill, now await­ing as­sent from Ramaphosa.

In Septem­ber 2016, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court con­firmed the rul­ing of the Gaut­eng Divi­sion of the High Court on the in­de­pen­dence of the po­lice watch­dog body.

Then Ipid ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Robert McBride had chal­lenged his sus­pen­sion and dis­ci­plinary ac­tion in­sti­tuted by the then po­lice min­is­ter, Nathi Nh­leko, on the grounds of con­sti­tu­tional in­va­lid­ity.

The court had found cer­tain sec­tions of the Ipid Act to be un­con­sti­tu­tional as they gave the min­is­ter the power to sus­pend, or take any dis­ci­plinary steps in or­der to sus­pend or re­move from of­fice, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ipid.

Par­lia­ment was then in­structed to “cure the de­fects in the leg­is­la­tion” within 24 months, but only did so in Novem­ber last year.

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