Local government elections: Expert warns ANC to prepare itself to be an opposition party after November 1
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Johannesburg – Local government expert Prof Jaap de Visser has warned the ANC ahead of the November 1 local government elections to also prepare to become an opposition party.
De Visser, a director of the Dullah Omar Institute, formerly known as the Community Law Centre at the University of Western Cape, said his warning was borne out of the constitution of the land which was drafted by former ANC leaders such as former justice minister Dullah Omar, Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs and former national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.
He singled out Ngcuka who was part of the 1993 negotiation forum of having had a placard in his office stating that they drafted the constitution not only to lead the country, but to also become an opposition party.
De Visser was speaking virtually at the launch of the ANC barometer – to monitor the performance of ANC controlled municipalities and their councillors including mayors. The event was hosted at the ANC’s headquarters in Luthuli House on Wednesday.
He welcomed the ANC’s initiative to set up a barometer, saying it would improve the performance of councillors and municipalities controlled by the ANC.
De Visser, however, expressed concern that the 33 municipalities which were placed under administration were mostly ANC controlled. He also raised the issue of the collapse of governance in Phokwane Municipality in Jan Kempdorp in the Northern Cape, where councillors elected two rival Speakers for the same municipality. De Visser also indicated the collapse of governance at Metsimaholo Municipality in Sasolburg in the Free State, where councillors defied instructions of an MEC and held a separate meeting where they announced the appointment of municipal officials.
In his warning, De Visser said: “It impacts on service delivery immediately and on the dignity of residents. The ANC must hold its councillors to account and be responsible in the future.”
Almost the same sentiments were expressed by ANC think tank Joel Netshitenzhe who was part of the panel at the launch of the barometer.
Netshitenzhe, who also addressed the launch virtually, warned the ANC to stop its councillors from influencing bureaucrats in municipalities to serve their own interests.
He said the South African Local Government Association (Salga) which was formerly led by Thembi Nkadimeng, now Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, should set up a pledge for bureaucrats to resist political pressure from councillors.
Nkadimeng was also part of the panel and she introduced the full content of the barometer and its expectations from the ANC councillors and municipalities controlled by it.
Netshitenzhe, however, in his address also echoed sentiments expressed by the former ANC president Thabo Mbeki when he called upon his party to sign a social compact with businesses and civil society organisations in their bid to collectively improve the living conditions of South African people.
Like Mbeki, Netshitenzhe said the social compact would improve the local economy and livelihoods of people in a particular community and municipality.
He, however, bemoaned the collapse of social responsibility programmes in mining communities, saying that social compact between mining bosses and workers, including communities, had faltered drastically over the years despite written agreements.
Netshitenzhe asked the ANC to consider involving taxi operators in Prasa to revive the rail system, which was destroyed during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We need to involve various players in the taxi industry in Prasa like we did in the BRT system. It will create a material benefit to them,” Netshitenzhe pleaded.