Johannesburg – One South Africa movement leader Mmusi Maimane has announced a variety of independent municipal candidates to stand as mayoral candidates in at least five municipalities in the country ahead of the local government elections on November 1.
The candidates announced in Midrand on Wednesday ranged from a diplomat; a pastor and academic; two farmers, one of them soft drink Twizza producer Ken Clark and a former mayor of Knysna Local Municipality Mark Willemse.
The five candidates were revealed during a function which was attended by various organisations representing independent candidates who came from eight provinces in the country except the Northern Cape.
Bishop Vincent Jones of the New Horizon Movement in Emfuleni was the only mayoral candidate to be announced in Gauteng. Jones will contest for the mayoral position at the financially embattled Emfuleni Local Municipality in Vereeniging in Gauteng.
Jones stunned the audience when he revealed that he got married on November 1, 1986 and he hosted the ceremony outside the Emfuleni Local Municipality.
“At the time of my wedding, the grass was green and the flowers were blooming. After 1994 none of it existed. There is no more grass and there are no flowers. Maybe in exile, there was no grass,” Jones said.
All these mayoral candidates sang from the same hymn book despite coming from different areas.
Soft drink producer Clark - who employs more than 1 000 people - recounted his efforts in alerting Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality about rampant corruption and lack of service delivery which impacted on his dairy business and soft drink empire but said he received no assistance.
Clark’s revelations about the state of Enoch Mgijima Municipality came as the same municipality hit the national headlines for building a shoddy stadium worth R15 million.
Now, Clark has formed The Independents to contest the upcoming local government elections.
Another farmer and author Dr Ruben Richards echoed Clark’s sentiments. Dr Richards said various political parties had failed to provide services to the people of Cederberg in the Western Cape which prompted them as independent candidates to establish the Cederberg First Residents Association.
Former diplomat Selma Kock bemoaned the lack of running water in Parys and surrounding areas despite living next to the Vaal River.
Kock said that forced the local residents to join her in forming the Ngwathe Residents Association to take control of Ngwathe Local Municipality and to provide necessary services to the local residents. Former Knysna mayor Willemse told the crowd that he was recalled by the DA for firing a corrupt fellow councillor.
Ironically, it was revealed that Maimane - while DA leader, asked Willemse to resign. According to Willemse, at the time, Maimane and other top DA leaders were unaware of the corruption but acted against him because that particular councillor was connected to some of the top leadership.
In his reply, Maimane said: “I will get it right this time.”
Maimane further said: “We all know the sorry state of affairs that we face at local government level. Across the country, municipalities are bankrupt and residents are without constitutional guaranteed basic services.
“Communities are suffering at the hands of a failed governing party, yet time and time again voters have rejected the second-rate and underwhelming options we happen to find in opposition political parties. It can’t simply be a choice between yellow, blue, red or green T-shirts. We need to mature our young democracy. That is why today we set before South Africa a new pathway to change, a model that takes undue power away from political parties and brings it closer to communities,” Maimane said.
He said in partnering with a litany of independent community-led organisations, they are advocating for non-political local government, that allows for municipalities to be controlled by citizen-led organisations and competent individuals – “citizens who are honest, equipped and passionate about delivering basic services in a financially prudent and responsible manner.”