Monday, 07 December 2009

'Councillors lack accountability'

2009-08-18 07:40

Johannesburg - Problems in the organisational structure of the ANC have led to a lack of accountability by councillors, ANC veteran and former speaker of parliament Frene Ginwala said on Monday.

"When we returned [from exile], [the ANC] decided not to establish a parliamentary party, but decided to retain the branch as the basic unit of organisation, decision-making and choosing leadership.

"We did not consider adequately the link between the branch and local government," Ginwala told an audience at the annual Ruth First lecture in Johannesburg.

"Even today, many of the problems arise from the complicated governing structures we had."

Local govt not being held accountable

Ginwala said that while ANC branches were intended to hold local government accountable, the reality was very different.

She said this was because the organisational mechanisms for such accountability did not exist.

"Rarely has action been taken against councillors who are corrupt and ignore the ANC structures," said Ginwala.

Also speaking at the Ruth First lecture was columnist and academic Jacob Dlamini.

Dlamini had done a case study of a local branch in Katlehong and was careful to note that the distance between theory and reality could be great.

He argued that in the aftermath of President Jacob Zuma's election in Polokwane, political commentators had exalted the branch as having been responsible for that event.

Dlamini said the branch he examined, even at a size reduced from its original 22 000, was still too unwieldy.

"In 2008, it took the branch eight attempts to form a quorum for its AGM [Annual General Meeting]," he said.

Divided by loyalties

In addition to this, the branch was divided by its loyalties to different members, despite new members "making an oath to oppose factionalism".

Dlamini quoted one branch leader as saying: "We do not have members of the ANC branch, we have members of members."

Dlamini said that the debate around Mbeki and Zuma itself, and how it was remembered, revealed a great deal about the shifting alliances within branches.

"This is quite interesting... we think of white people who 'never supported apartheid'. You find in the ANC that no one supported Mbeki."


Ginwala: Zuma failing to lead by example

2009-12-06 14:32

Johannesburg - Failure to reign in ANCYL leader Julius Malema and accepting salary hikes are signs of the poor quality of leadership shown by President Jacob Zuma and his government, Frene Ginwala has told the Sunday Times.

Given the recession and high levels of unemployment, Zuma should not have granted salary increases to his officials, the former National Assembly speaker told the newspaper in an interview.

"Look at the level of political leadership in this country. It's not very good. How many of our leaders lead by example?"

In 1995 former president Nelson Mandela announced salary cuts in his administration, and, more recently Thabo Mbeki refused for years to take salary increases when he was head of state.

This lack of leadership manifested itself in allowing ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to insult "older people", such as Mbeki, ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former education minister Naledi Pandor.

"When he (Malema) was speaking the way he was, a number of people stopped me in the street and said: 'How do you allow that boy to speak to elders in this way?'

"If he was engaging in political debate in the national executive committee, no one expects him not to speak his mind. But publicly... you could still put the ideas across with some respect for your elders. Now that is where we are running ourselves down," the paper quoted her as saying.

Following the storm around the appointment of Menzi Simelane as national director of public prosecutions, she said she "fully" stood by her report which was critical of Simelane's handling of Vusi Pikoli's suspension.