By MAKWENA MANAKA
On Thursday morning, 28 October, Makana Citizens Front (MCF) PR councillor candidate Jane Bradshaw spoke to at least 30 local citizens at a University of the Third Age (U3A) lecture about the MCF’s election campaign.
The discussion entitled “What do we think Grahamstown needs?” outlined the newly formed party’s local government elections manifesto ahead of Election Day on Monday 1 November.
Bradshaw shared the MCF’s manifesto with the attendees highlighting that the party is a civic movement aiming to achieve efficient and effective local government and service delivery. The list of priorities included: improving the quality and accountability of councillors, developing a functional, efficient and professional municipality, improving the delivery of municipal operation oversight, access to information and communication, improving the municipalities financial viability and creating a conducive environment for businesses to promote quality and sustainable jobs.
There were mixed reactions. One woman questioned if accountability was possible, given numerous reports of corruption that went unpunished.
Bradshaw responded with a commitment to conducting lifestyle audits on Makana Municipality employees.
“If someone is living beyond their means, like buying a house with cash, we will conduct audits and make sure they are fired.”
Bradshaw also assured the attendees that incompetent MCF Councillors would be subjected to disciplinary hearings if community members lay a complaint with at least 100 signatures.
Bradshaw lamented unemployment and substance abuse among young people in Makhanda.
“I personally wish to have a trade school so that young people can learn entrepreneurship.”
Following murmurs of shock that moved around the hall when Bradshaw shared that tik costs R10, she urged attendees to give young people on Makhanda’s streets food instead of money to prevent drug use.
One man asked how feasible it would be for the MCF to unseat the ANC to lead Makana Municipality. Bradshaw responded by saying that she anticipates that her party will win some wards.
“We’re going to get some wards. As to how many? I can’t say at this point. But if we don’t have a mayoral seat, then we will make the mayor’s life miserable.”
Bradshaw emphasised the importance of a good voter turnout and encouraged community members to vote.
“If you don’t vote, you make the party in charge stronger because no one is going to contest.”
The MCF’s grassroots approach to governance includes ensuring Makana’s food security by protecting community gardens from grazing cattle, youth skills training programmes, and drawing from residents as integral to decision-making processes. These ideas resonated with some attendees.
“I love the idea of a participatory democracy”, said one man.
Bradshaw informed Grocott’s Mail of MCF’s belief in the Electoral Commission South Africa’s (IEC) integrity. However, several party agents will be sent to voting stations to ensure they operate by IEC standards.
“We’ve got people who’ll be there at quarter to nine and will stay there until all the votes are counted. We feel fairly confident that we should get a fair and free election.”