Many municipal councillors are so scared that the majority of them may quit their jobs at the end of their terms, while municipal managers (MMs) are resigning due to fear of assassinations, threats and intimidation.
A report released by the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in Johannesburg yesterday showed more than 55% of councillors feared to run for public office in the next term.
The majority of municipal managers (65%) said the situation was so severe that they contemplated resigning.
Salga president Parks Tau said they found that it was not only KwaZulu-Natal that was affected, but it was a national trend. He described the killings and intimidation as an “affront to democracy itself”. Tau called it a “disturbing trend”.
The survey revealed there was a high number of resignations by councillors and MMs, with only 30% of councillors returning to office for further terms.
He said agents provocateurs destabilised not only the municipalities, but the entire country. The study was done among MMs who attended the Municipal Managers Forum and councillors at the National Members Assembly early in 2016.
The report, titled Violence in Democracy: The Political Killing and Intimidation of Local Representatives and Administrators, collected data from 54 councillors and 40 MMs.
A total of 66% of the councillors reported being threatened while 46% were often threatened. More male councillors were threatened with physical violence or damage to property than women, but women received threats against their families and were sometimes threatened with rape.
Salga CEO Xolile George said those at the level of speaker and chief whip appeared more likely to receive threats than ward and proportional representation councillors. The MMs were being targeted around the awarding of tenders, employment and wages or salaries.
The report indicated that of the list of murdered councillors, only three successful prosecutions were made. In the instances, gun-men were hired and in two cases a mayor and a businessman were behind the hit.
It recommended improvement of security arrangement with protection provided by council if threat is proved and police to improve security assessment for councillors and MMs. It also called for the killings of councillors and MMs to be made priority crime and be investigated without fear or favour.
The report proposed that a risk insurance should be introduced in municipalities where it did not exist for councillors and MMs while conflict management be introduced to enable councillors to better manage conflict. – firstname.lastname@example.org