By DANA OSBORN
The Makana Citizens Front (MCF) has registered to contest the local government elections with a diverse slate of candidates representing everyone “from the poorest of the poor to highly qualified professionals, black and white, male and female”.
MCF spokesperson Lungile Mxube said the front was making an explicit bid to “change who is in government and improve service delivery for the better”.
“There is a long history of decline in Makana – RDP houses are no longer built; we are lucky if we get water every second day; our streets and open spaces are filthy; roads are more pothole than tar; and sewers constantly leak, even into homes,” Mxube said.
“We have done everything we could to change government for the better – petitions, letters, court actions, protest, pleading for change every way we could. The Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) won a court action to dissolve the council and place it under administration. Yet, the government has fought tooth and nail to avoid implementing the judgement. So, we are left with one alternative. Change who is in government,” he said.
The UPM has been instrumental in creating the MCF and has driven several other initiatives within the community. One such initiative was discouraging looting. UPM members distributed thousands of flyers educating the community about the consequences of looting. The pamphlet read: “No to self-inflicted pain… [the ANC is]now fighting openly, each faction of the elite wants to control the state.”
The UPM holds weekly meetings in Jackie Chan/Fingo Square to discuss how to solve Makhanda’s problems. “I think, to me, what the square symbolizes was a rejection of the political parties and formal politics. To say we’ll create our own square, we’ll treat each other as equals,” explained UPM spokesperson Ayanda Kota.
“How do you infuse hope? Democracy should be the power of the people. Not the power of the elite, not the power of the politician but the power of the people… the politics of love, the politics of humanity.”
When asked about the recent turmoil, Kota explained that he believes the ANC nation-building project has collapsed.
“To me, this was an orchestrated open battle between the factions of the ANC… there was no shared vision; it was a collection of individualism, self-aggrandizement… How many people died as a result of the stampede? How many people died as a result of not getting medication? So, I won’t be positive about it. But I’ll be very vocal in condemning the factions of the ANC.”
Kota said this was the difference between the looting and the Makhanda service delivery protests. “I got calls where people were saying my cupboards are empty, I need medication. So, on the second day of the first shutdown, we had to call it off. It was not democratic… It’s a struggle because we are born into a system that is racist, that is capitalist, but we must reject it. This is our envisioned society; we must embody that which we wish to see.”
“The Makhanda we want to see is inclusive. Everyone must be able to say, ‘I’m a part of this city, I have a stake in it’. [A Makhanda] that is not racist or exclusionary… The scale is not balanced, so it must be balanced, and we must be biased towards the poor.”
Kota hoped that Makhanda would have a transparent municipality, which allowed the community to partake in meetings and understand why certain decisions are being made and interject if they have something important to add. “To create that push and pull, so, at the end of the day, we will feel all of us are a part of it.”
Mxube said: “All of us are committed to serving our people. And we have all signed undertakings that hold us to that.”
“And that is what makes MCF different! It has emerged from the community. It is accountable to the community. There is no party head office in a distant city. The party head office is our own streets. That is where we will be called to account,” Mxube added.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has adopted recommendations by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke that this year’s local government elections be postponed from October to February next year.
In his evaluation on the freeness and fairness of the elections during the current pandemic, Moseneke acknowledged that the elections should happen soon, but that it simply cannot at this time, stating “on all expert medical evidence, many, many lives are likely to be lost unless we reach a certain level of community immunity”.
Experts suggested that the earliest possible time of reaching this immunity would be February 2022.
“The Commission accepts the rational and the central thesis of the report that greater immunity through mass vaccination is a desirable precondition for a safe, free and fair election to be realised,” the Commission said.
Preparations are proceeding for voting on 27 October whilst anticipating the likely deferral of elections to February 2022.
About the journalist
I am Dana Faye Osborn. I am in my third year of Journalism and English at the university currently known as Rhodes. Lover of language, politics, history, art, social theory, film and people.
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