As the Local Municipal Elections draws closer, political parties and independent ward candidates will in the coming days campaign in full swing. While many consider this to be the one of the most exciting election campaigns, given the national publication of ANC candidates’ names, many continue to question the integrity of ward councillors who are sworn into office. In a quest to ensure that ‘derailed’ councillors are held accountable, the Right to Know Campaign (R2K) in its most recent initiative released a pledge for newly elected councillors to sign. The pledge is said to ensure that councillors will accept accountability and will make a commitment to being recalled if they do not work in the interest of their respective communities.
Provincial Co-ordinator of R2K, Ghalib Galant explains that given the differences in national elections and local elections, where councillors are directly voted in by residents, R2K has decided upon holding councillors accountable to residents.
He says that by asking councillors to sign a pledge where, should they not perform, partake in corrupt activity or not hold their four annual meetings, they stand to be recalled by residents of their wards.
“There has been a lot of talk about the recalling of the president, but we have as citizens of the country and residents of wards a much more direct relationship with ward councillors,” Galant said.
In addition, Gallant says that the R2K campaign is also working to challenge proportional representative councillors in order to grant residents the power to request the recalling of the councillor by their parties.
He says that while very few mechanisms exist through which residents are able to have a viable measure of accountability over their elected officials, there does exist a code of conduct that each councillor is obligated to sign.
“As residents, we are largely unaware of the code of conduct and have, therefore, not acted in terms of it,” Galant continued.
Galant explains that the code of conduct grants residents the power to approach the council or provincial MEC’s to institute disciplinary measures or to move to remove a councillor.
Given the fact that residents are generally unaware of the code of conduct, he says that R2K’s initiative is directed toward establishing a much more direct link between a councillor and residents.
He further notes that the R2K pledge institutes a clause where a councillor can be recalled via a voting process, a referendum, or a petition.
Gallant affirms that since the pledge is a signed contract, the document is legally binding between the ward councillor and ward structures.
For more information, visit www.r2k.org.za. Alternatively, contact: 0214471000.