By ROD AMNER, Grocott’s Mail editor
There are 103 candidate names on Makana’s 14 ward ballots this year. Our hotly contested local election, involving an unprecedented number of independent and grassroots candidates, has captured the imagination of the national and even international press.
This week, Jane Flanagan, a journalist for London’s The Times, referred to Makana’s election as the most significant grassroots challenge South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, has ever faced.
Regardless of the election’s outcome, there is no doubt that seismic shifts in Makana’s political landscape are reverberating outwards.
Citizens and their organisations have for years picked up the slack of a dysfunctional state. A string of legal victories – by the Unemployed People’s Movement, the Makana Residents’ Association, the Legal Resources Centre and other citizen groups – has revealed the potency of Makhanda’s civil society.
Scores of community kitchens and NPOs are tackling food insecurity. Educational partnerships and innovations have transformed the city into the top-performing educational centre in the province. The university’s Community Engagement division is the most active in the country and recently scooped a global award. Citizens monitor waste management and regularly clean rivers and illegal dumpsites. And many of these disparate citizens groups are organised under several Circle of Unity clusters.
These citizen-powered initiatives have delivered a wide range of quality candidates contesting this election.
This edition of GMDirect is packed with election coverage. It includes links to the detailed work done by SmilingSouth Media, which invited ward candidates contesting the elections to respond to three questions and provide their manifesto.
Interestingly, only one of the 14 ANC candidates sent a manifesto. None of the other candidates had responded by Thursday, 28.
By contrast, ALL the Makana Citizens Front (MCF) candidates submitted responses to the questions and manifestos, as did ALL the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) candidates, ALL the Makana Independent New Deal (MIND) candidates, and four of the five independents.
Ten of the 13 Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) candidates failed to respond, as did four of the ten Democratic Alliance (DA) candidates. The Freedom Front Plus candidates indicated he would not be responding to questions about any of the 14 wards he is standing in.
This week, MCF candidate Nthuthu Blow said to The Times that people don’t need politicians, “they need responsible citizens”.
Which responsible citizen will you be voting for on 1 November?