Leaders of civic organisations in Komani are taking a stand to ensure good governance in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM), by joining forces to form a consortium that will contest the upcoming local government elections.
The group, made up of influential local people, formed the audience when the founding member of the ACDP, Dr Michael Louis, made a presentation about how a discrepancy in the Electoral Act and the Constitution allowed citizens to directly elect their preferred leaders, last week Monday.
This follows last year’s Constitutional Court ruling that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional, a legal move that is set to change the political landscape in South Africa as it opens the door for independent candidates to stand for national and provincial elections without affiliation to any political party.
Dr Louis pioneered the legal battle that sought to challenge the right of individuals to stand, in accordance with section 19 (3) (b) of the constitution.
The EMLM is one of three poorly run municipalities in the Eastern Cape that are set to be assisted by Dr Louis to bring back power to the people.
Dr Louis indicated that people could now choose influential people in their communities to lead them and depoliticise council.
“This is not to eradicate political parties, but for people to choose the best players to lead them into the future. The people get to choose someone they actually know, like a principal or the leader of an organisation they already know.
“There are many people who want to serve their towns, but do not want to affiliate to any political party. The people need to understand their power and choose the best people to lead them and depoliticise municipalities,” he said.
Section 15 (a) of the independent electoral commissions Act of 1996 allows for an organisation or movement to participate in municipal elections in a specific municipality, without being registered as a traditional political party with political party structures
Using this provision, residents can prepare for independent candidates to stand for election in various wards, while also registering as a conglomerate of independent candidates to gain the benefit of the proportional representation (PR) vote.
“Normally, when you register with the IEC you have to do so both at national and provincial level. The new law brings it much closer to the people. Residents of this municipality can form their own organisation, for their own municipality and take their own power back and that is what section 15 (a) does,” said Dr Louis.
However, Dr Louis indicated that for this to be perfectly executed it required a lot of groundwork, collecting information from house to house, and training relevant people about fundraising.
“We are looking for a functional community that seeks good governance and that speaks with one voice. That is what is at the heart of this collaborative effort – to change society for the better and for services to get to the people, he said.
Local businessman Ken Clark said there was no government that gave to the people, but instead that which took from its people.
“Government cannot spend money they did not collect from residents in the first place. If we want an effective government, it has to be one that takes as little as possible and gives as much as possible to the people.
“Government will not make you rich, and that is why we are in this situation today because people have stolen themselves rich at our expense. We need to change things and our biggest job is to go out there and find influential people in our community like the traditional leaders so they may stand up and be counted,” said Clark.
Independent Komani Residents’ Association spokesperson, Zolile Xalisa, said the consortium needed to come up with a name that would resonate with all people of the EMLM so that it was not seen as a Komani formation, but that of all residents who are not happy with the status quo of the municipality.