3 May 2019

South Africa: Call for Law to Allow Communities to Recall Ward Councillors

Photo: Kimberly Mutandiro/GroundUp
A group of residents and activists marched to the offices of the ANC, DA and EFF in Johannesburg city centre on Thursday to demand that communities be allowed to recall ineffective ward councillors.

A couple of dozen township residents and activists from across Gauteng marched to the offices of the ANC, DA and EF on Thursday, demanding that communities be given the power recall ineffective ward councillors. Although the protest was small, they came with a 300-page petition signed by over 25,000 people.

"The councillors we elected have been failing us," said Katlehong resident Moses Nxumalo. "They never come to address us and we are tired of this. We had a vote of no confidence against our councillor but he is still there. How is that?" he said.

The petition demanded that the political parties commit to amending Section 25 of the Municipal Structures Act before 2021 to give residents the ability to initiate a recall of their ward councillor. It stated that the amendment should be passed in the first sitting of Parliament after the May elections.

The march was part of the "Recall Campaign" started by activists at Grassroots and Amandla.mobi in December.

Luke Jordan, director of Grassroots, said that ordinary people should be allowed to remove corrupt and non-performing councillors. "This should be done through a vote without a long bureaucratic process and having to wait for another four or five years for an election," he said. Jordan said the political parties had not responded to previous attempts to send them the petition electronically.

Other marchers also expressed why they wanted the amendment passed.

Mothisi Mosia, a backwarder from Naledi, Soweto said, "l live with my wife and three kids in a small back room. There is no privacy. We cook and bath in the same room. We were supposed to be allocated houses in 1998 but nothing has happened."

Zodwa Mkhosi from Phiri, Soweto said, "We are nine in our house and nobody is working. The water bills have been exorbitant. If at all our politicians cared about us they would remove those water meters. Our councillor ignores us when we forward grievances."

Some residents from Somalia Park informal settlement in Vosloorus blamed their councillors for the lack of service delivery in the area.

The petition was accepted by representatives from the ANC and DA. No representative was present from the EFF.

The political parties have been given two weeks to respond.

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