Sowetan: Date of elections

Date of Elections

The announcement will be made at a glitzy launch at Gallagher Estate’s Ballroom in Midrand, where the media will be treated to a jazz performance and be bombarded with adverts on elections.

The elections are widely expected to take place in May, but since this five-year term ends in March the polls could even be held sooner.

Less than 55percent of the electorate turned out to vote in the last round of local government elections in 2006 – and many have since been disappointed by their ward councillors.

Rhodes University political science lecturer Richard Pithouse says there will be high levels of repression in the months leading up to the local government elections.

“We have an extremely high rate of popular protest and most is targeted at local government and local party structures. In 2006 there was considerable repression, including political killings on a local level and [there is a risk] that is likely to happen again this year,” he said.

“Local government was supposed to bring democracy to the people but municipalities have been dysfunctional instead.

“The top down system used by political parties has led to local government becoming a tool of social control rather than a way to convey the views of people on the ground upwards,” Pithouse added.

The growing shack-dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo said it would organise a national boycott of the elections, as it did the 2009 national elections.

“We have programmes already lined up for communities ahead of the elections. We are going to highlight the water cut-offs, electricity cutoffs and unemployment.

“We cannot vote people into power and then once they are in power they cut off our water and electricity,” said Abahlali baseMjondolo leader Mzonke Poni.

But ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said a boycott was unnecessary because, this time around, the ANC would only put up candidates endorsed by communities.

“We encourage all who have a right to vote not to boycott the elections,” he said.

Congress of the People deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa said: “Though the party may not be in the best of shape, given the chaos Cope has been in for the last two years, a May date sounds reasonable.”