LISTEN | ANC rules on candidate selection will shake things up ahead of local government polls: Motlanthe

ANC electoral committee head Kgalema Motlanthe. File photo.
ANC electoral committee head Kgalema Motlanthe. File photo.
Image: Greg Marinovich/Newsfire

Head of the ANC national electoral committee Kgalema Motlanthe says the party’s decision to shake up its candidate selection processes for the upcoming local polls will result in quality leadership and efficient municipalities and tackle corruption.    

Elections are expected to be held in February 2022 if the push to postpone them beyond the promulgated October 27 date succeeds.

In a discussion on the Sunday Times Politics Weekly podcast, the former president said the electoral committee was established to address various ills, including manipulation of candidate selection processes, predetermined outcomes and unqualified leaders which led to a loss of confidence in the party.

Here is what he had to say: 

Subscribe for free episodes: | Spotify | Apple Podcast | Pocket Casts |

In the last local polls in 2016, the ANC obtained a 54% majority countrywide.

The party’s top six have since appointed the committee chaired by Motlanthe and seven other senior party leaders, saying it will be a permanent structure. The committee has so far introduced rules which give communities the power to decide on their representatives, including councillors.

Previously, candidates nominations were processed through regional lists conferences and finalised by the national lists committee. The new rules prescribe that a branch nominates four candidates.

Those names must then be presented to a general meeting of the community within that ward, and be nominated. Candidates can then be afforded an opportunity to present their credentials to the community. Should the community not be happy with some of them, they are given a right to nominate those who inspire confidence.

Last month, the auditor-general flagged some municipalities as being on the brink of collapse.  

Only 27 achieved clean audits, which went hand-in-hand with the deteriorating state of local government, said auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke.

This was, however, set to change with the implementation of the rules because the party was looking for candidates who, “first and foremost, have expertise as well as experience and would have served in structures, in issues of governance. Over and above, we need qualifications and skills relevant to the work that municipality would be involved in,” said Motlanthe. 

Another requirement for candidates is that they would take up governance and leadership modules with the Oliver Tambo school, according to Motlanthe. 

“Local government is the most important tier of government. In a sense it is like a rock face where residents and citizens interact with government very directly.”

Motlanthe said there was an impression that local government was less important and needed to be done away with because several countries had proved otherwise. 

“If local government is properly constituted and structured with the understanding that they are a state at a local government level, then it's easier to grow local economies. In many countries you find national governments are coalitions governments and they tend to be unstable, but the local governments are the pillars because they function efficiently. The local economies are growing and thriving  and citizens can get quality service even where there is no national government.” 

On internal violence  within the ruling party ahead of and during polls, Motlanthe blamed skyrocketing unemployment.

“It’s happening precisely because in many local areas there are a few employment opportunities. Local economies aren’t growing and creating opportunities and jobs, so being public representatives guarantees some kind of income.

“In areas where there are no other opportunities people tend to fight to serve as public representatives because they are guaranteed some income, so they resort to violence.”

Commenting on the quality of ANC leadership, Motlanthe said: “I think there’s been a collage of the elected political leadership and the administration and it is that conflation which has led to inefficiency and corruption precisely because we tend to think of a municipality by looking at the elected councillors and not the administration.”