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Municipal elections and women’s representation in the country’s 8 metros
18 October 2021, 4:13 PM

On 1st November this year, South Africa will once again hold its municipal government elections that occur every five years to elect local councillors for the 257 municipalities distributed across the country.

Elections will therefore be held for the district, local and Metropolitan councils across the country, although the country’s eight Metropolitan Councils are only found in some provinces (Gauteng, Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Eastern Cape).

Municipalities serve an important political function of promoting local democratic participation, representation, and accountability to local communities. They are sites for decision-making on the allocation of limited but critical resources necessary for local economic development, infrastructure development, and delivery of basic services.

Therefore, political control of any of the eight Metros (i.e., City of Johannesburg, City of Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Buffalo City, Tshwane, Mangaung, and Nelson Mandela Bay) in the country is an important political goal for the major political parties. Also, this is one of the key reasons why gender activists and practitioners pay attention to issues of gender equality in the political representation and participation of women, particularly in key Office Bearer positions such as Executive Mayor, Council Speaker, Mayoral Committee Member, etc.

A major political furor broke out when, after the 2016 Municipal elections, only one female Executive Mayor was appointed to lead the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, while the remaining seven Metros were headed by male Executive Mayors. This was not an isolated occurrence as even in the previous 2011 municipal elections, a similarly dismal number of female Executive Mayors (only two) was appointed, while the rest were males.

In addition, there were overall more (61.5%) male councillors elected to the country’s eight Metros in the 2016 municipal elections, compared to female councillors (38.5%).

There is little doubt that such blatant inequities in the representation of women, including in leadership and decision-making positions, in any sphere of government, can hardly be justified.

South Africa has no shortage of women politicians capable of fulfilling the roles and discharging the responsibilities attached to these positions. The constitution, and numerous domestic gender equality legislative and policy frameworks, together with its binding commitments to international and regional treaties and declarations on gender equality, render such obvious discriminatory practices a violation of the basic right of women to political equality.

This is so even before a case is made to describe the potential benefits of women’s participation in politics and governance.

Municipalities constitute the lowest sub-national tier of government in South Africa. Yet it is extremely critical, not only politically but also administratively.

Administratively, the quality of the services delivered by municipalities to local communities has a direct and immediate impact on the lives of citizens and is likely to contribute to improvements or a deterioration in the quality of life of local communities.

Of the three types of municipalities for which elections will be held on 1st November, district and local municipalities are the least endowed with financial resources, and therefore likely to depend on financial transfers and grants from the national and provincial governments to fulfill their service delivery responsibilities.

For instance, district and local municipalities can only raise 18% and 65%, respectively, of their revenues from local sources such as service charges for water, electricity, sewerage, and sanitation, refuse collection, and other sources.

The eight Metros are relatively well endowed with financial resources, including better tax bases. They can raise up to 83% of their revenue needs from local sources. Many of these Metros control bigger budgets than the provinces in which they are located, which therefore renders them politically high-value prizes.

It will therefore come as no surprise that some of the fiercest political contests in upcoming municipal elections will occur in these Metros. After the national and provincial governments, the 8 Metros are the next high-value political battlegrounds where party-political contests for control will rage fiercely in the next few weeks of campaigning.

Many of the routine decisions, including the policies and programmes pursued by municipalities or other levels of government, have a bearing on the lives of women. For instance, local-level decision-making in areas such as local economic development, land use planning, local enterprise promotion, community safety, low-cost housing, street lighting and others can impact positively or negatively on opportunities for women’s empowerment.

Therefore, a fair representation and participation by women in such processes is bound to yield significant benefits to these processes, especially by infusing the perspectives and experiences of women in policy and decision-making processes.

This creates an obligation on the political parties and political leadership to put in place the necessary policies and effective processes to promote gender equality in political participation and representation of women in government.

Some the major political parties have made progress by adopting internal mechanisms such as the 50/50 quota to promote women’s representation and participation, which has helped increase the representation of women significantly in previous elections.

Dr. Thabo Rapoo, Director, Research and Policy Department, CGE

Police activate 72-hour activation plan to track down EFF ward candidate’s killers
18 October 2021, 1:31 PM

Police have mobilised a 72-hour activation plan to track down the suspects who shot and killed an Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) ward candidate in the Msunduzi municipality Thulani Shangase.

Shangase was killed in the KwaCaluza area outside Pietermaritzburg on Sunday. He was the EFF candidate in ward 20. He was returning from a campaigning meeting when he was killed.

National police spokesperson Vish Naidoo explains: “We have mobilised the 72-hour Activation Plan which entails the mobilisation of specialized units such as Crime Intelligence, the KZN Political Task Team, detectives and DPCI to ensure that evidence, intelligence, and information, which can help track and arrest those responsible, is gathered. We are appealing to anyone with information to please contact the SAPS on the SAPS CrimeStop number 086 00 10111.”

Meanwhile, the EFF’s secretary in the Mgungundlovu region David Msomi says the EFF will not be intimidated by the killing of their ward candidate.

“Because some people are not accepting that the EFF is here and that the EFF is going to lead the municipality and it is going to win other wards. So other people are not accepting that. They want to make sure that the EFF must be scared, but we are not scared, we going to the elections and we are going to win these elections.”

ANC calls on police to swiftly arrest those responsible for the murder

This comes after the murder of an African National Congress ward candidate, Siyabonga Mkhize in KwaZulu-Natal.

eThekwini ward 101 candidate Mkhize and another member were gunned down just after concluding a door-to-door campaign in the area last week.

Two others survived the attack. The ANC’s provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela says the party will continue conducting door-to-door campaigns especially in ward 101 – to ensure that the party wins the ward.

The ANC leadership in KwaZulu-Natal is calling on police to act swiftly and arrest those responsible for the brutal murder of its members ahead of the local government elections.

This is the second fatal attack on ANC members ahead of the November 1 elections.

Siyabonga Mkhize’s family is struggling to come to terms with the murder:

Voter apathy among youth is because they are disillusioned: Thamsanqa Masingi
15 October 2021, 7:27 PM

Activate Change Drivers Thamsanqa Masingi says we need to look at the low youth voter turnout when it comes to election season.

He says the real issue is that the youth is disillusioned. This as an argument has been made that the challenges facing South African youth have caused voter apathy among this demographic.

Little to no employment opportunities and lack of access to skills development are the contributing factors to the apathy. Despite these challenges, the UNDP, in its partnership with the IEC, wants to encourage the youth to cast their votes in the local government elections to bring about the change that they want to see.

“We need to make a proper analysis of what is currently happening within our country right now and I think when we look at the low youth voter turnout when it comes to election season. We need to be honest with the reality that the young people have lost faith in institutions, they have lost faith in politicians. There is also a lower civic education that has taken place within the country. So I do not think it’s voter apathy but I think the real issue is the youth being disillusioned as well as the reality that our leaders, political leaders as well as public officials or public servants are not pulling up their socks and are not coming to the fore.”

Masingi shares more on voter apathy among youth:

Modise says incident at hotel in Irene demonstrates that SA is not a security heavy state
15 October 2021, 2:43 PM

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise says that the events that unfolded on Thursday night demonstrate that South Africa is not security heavy, this after military veterans allegedly held government officials hostage at a hotel in Irene, Pretoria.

She further sought to explain what efforts government has been making to address the plight of military veterans.

Modise, along with her Deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele was addressing the media in Pretoria.

56 military veterans have been arrested following the alleged hostage drama.

Modise also says she is still waiting to have a meeting with the military veterans.

“It demonstrates that South Africa is not a security-heavy state. That ministers still trust fellow citizens to sit around with them. It also demonstrates that we will go to any instance to hear concerns about any citizen whether they are liberation veterans or ordinary citizens to listen to the concerns that they put to us. This meeting was not planned as such, we went there because the Presidential Task Team invited us to go because the matter was there. It is also true that we were aware that this particular grouping had started at Luthuli House.

I was prepared to have a meeting and I am still waiting to have a meeting with the military vets, the recognised one, and this particular one which I am still waiting to see if  they will reapply so that they can get recognition from the minister,” says Modise.

Briefing on military veterans:

Meanwhile, Police say the 56 military veterans who have been arrested will be charged with kidnapping.

The military veterans are believed to have belonged to the ANC’s military wing uMkhonto we Sizwe, the PAC’s APLA, and Azapo’s AZANLA.

General Keith Mokoape, a former general of the SANDF, speaks to SABC News about the incident:

Judgment in Mandla Msibi’s bail application to be handed down on Tuesday
15 October 2021, 2:26 PM

Judgment in former Mpumalanga Agriculture MEC Mandla Msibi’s bail application is expected to be handed down on Tuesday next week.

Msibi and two co-accused are facing two counts of murder and one of attempted murder. The charges relate to an incident in which two people were killed and a third wounded in an (ANC) meeting in August.

Msibi is a former member of the ANC’s provincial executive committee.

Earlier, when defence Advocate Coert Jordaan was giving closing arguments in the bail application, he said that the state did not indicate its intention to oppose bail from the onset until the investigating officer testified.

He says the officer also failed to execute his duties because he affected an arrest seven weeks after the incident occurred.

Jordaan said the allegations against the accused have no substance.

On Wednesday, the court adjourned the bail application after a bomb scare at the court premises.

The video below reports on what happened on Wednesday:

Fired

On Tuesday, Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane fired Msibi after he handed himself over to police on Monday.

Mtshweni-Tsipane said, “I have decided, after consultation with the ANC leadership in the province, to release MEC Msibi from his position in the Provincial Executive Council with immediate effect. The decision to relieve MEC Msibi has been taken into consideration of the seriousness of the charges he is facing.”

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