Editorial: Arise, indie poll hopefuls
The picture of municipal finances presented by the auditor general this week is alarming. There has been some progress in the past year, but the basic problem remains: the overwhelming majority of local governments are not working, and most may not be viable. These supposed drivers of service delivery are so broken that not even the nearly R1?billion spent on consultants to bring about financial order has had any measurable effect.
Yet, at ground level, there is a source of hope. This week, a great many independent candidates registered their intended participation in the August local government polls. The battles between the regular parties will be fierce, but unaffiliated candidates will have a key role to play. They will spend their own time, and sometimes money, canvassing their communities. They will put their pride, and perhaps their reputations, on the line. In the case of those candidates who truly understand their communities’ needs, we hope that the residents respond by electing them.
That would be a message no political party could ignore. There could be no clearer signal from voters that they put good management and effective delivery above all else – and that, if the formal parties do not get their houses in order, their representatives will be relegated.
As the election lists closed this week, trouble loomed. In several parties, notably the ANC, there were clear signs that patronage and internecine politics could prevent the best people from making it on to the party ballots. A strong showing by independents could jolt parties into paying greater attention to their constituents and making more effort to get municipalities working.