Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Protests about local government elections

Some strange things are happening with people protesting about the local government elections, and apparently, according to news reports, threatening to boycott them.

More than 30 cars torched during Durban riots:

eThekwini Metro Police spokesman Superintendent Sbonelo Mchunu had said on Monday that the protests had been sparked by “disgruntled people who were not elected”.

Many of the protesters were wearing yellow African National Congress T-shirts emblazoned with the face of President Jacob Zuma.

The area is ward 34 and it is understood that those protesting are unhappy with the selection of candidates for the upcoming local government elections on 3 August 2016.

Protests of that kind made sense in the apartheid era, when most people didn’t have a vote. They make little sense now, when people do have a vote. It seems that we need a lot of political education in democracy.

If you are not happy with people who have been nominated, don’t block roads with burning tyres and cars and threaten to boycott elections. Nominate the people you do want. That’s how democracy works. Don’t protest, organise! Where are the civic organisations of the 1980s now that we need them?

The news reports have been confusing and less than informative.

On one hand, it sounds as though people are disgruntled because one party (in this case the ANC) has parachuted in candidates for local ward elections from elsewhere.

If that is so, the remedy is for local people to nominate their own candidates and campaign for them, reviving civic organisations if necessary.

torchcarOn the other hand, there is a possibility of a more sinister scenario that cannot be excluded — that people with vested business interests in being elected have sought nomination and lost. Unfortunately there are such people. In the USA this is called pork-barrel politics, and it is quite possible that some businessmen, unhappy that the candidates they could influence were not nominated, stirred up mobs to protest. That happened quite a lot in the xenophobic riots of a few years ago, where local businessmen, thinking that foreigners were undercutting them, incited mobs to attack foreigners. People like that, of course, will have no interest in forming civic organisations or nominating “people’s” candidates — they want candidates they can buy and control.

The headline of the article may have been more alarming than what actually happened: More than 30 cars torched during Durban riots: Zwane said that five people were arrested on Monday after protests that had seen the torching of more than 30 cars, most of which had been dragged from scrap yards, and a number of lorries.

I hope that the media fully report the trial of those five people, so that we can get a better i8dea of what was really happening and who was behind it. In the same way, I hope they fully report the trial of the people arrested in connection with the recent burning of schools in Limpopo. I find it hard to believe that a community would deliberately try to damage their children’s future in such a way. Tenderpreneurs, on the other hand, faced with the possibility of having to deal with municipal councillors who were not in their pockets, might well incite people to do so.

 

 

 

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