Wednesday’s announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the date for this year’s local government elections came as a relief to many because there had been considerable doubt about whether South Africans would be going to the polls this year.
The dilemma around the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out was at the centre of the uncertainty and there are still questions around it.
If all goes according to plan, October 27 will be the sixth time under SA’s democratic dispensation that voters will elect leadership and public representatives at metropolitan, district and local level.
This should be a time of hope for voters that they will finally get rid of incompetent and thieving councillors and replace them with those committed to good governance and the provision of quality service delivery in their municipalities.
But history has a different story to tell.
In the next few months, political parties will start their campaigns which will be filled with much fanfare and baby-kissing as councillor candidates crisscross their wards trying to impress the voters. They’ll say all the right things to convince the public that, given a chance, they will prioritise service delivery, ensure accountability and not take voters for granted once elected. Sadly, many will forget their commitments to the voters the moment they are sworn in as councillors. They will end up dodging critical meetings and supporting irregular decisions that are not in the best interest of the residents and ratepayers.
Hopefully, during this year’s campaigning there will not be any unscrupulous candidates who will resort to dirty politicking, which could mean anything between threatening the competition to plotting their assassination.
An election cannot be described as free and fair if people must lose their lives for their competition to ascend to whatever position. The onus is on every political party to deploy credible individuals with integrity who will not resort to violence to win or collapse the municipalities they are deployed to.