Cape Town – Tired of councillors who want to put the agenda of their political parties above the interests of ratepayers and constituents, the Milnerton Central Residents Association is polling members about whether they would prefer an independent candidate to represent the ward at the next election.
Secretary of the Milnerton Ratepayers Association, Liete van der Eems, said: “We have experienced incidents where councillors with political affiliations have shown a tendency to put political interests above the interests of ratepayers and constituents, even in matters where constituents are adversely affected.
“There is also little to no accountability from councillors all the way up to the Mayco. Just look at the pollution of our rivers and lagoons. No one is held accountable.
“An independent candidate, on the other hand, will be beholden to residents or face being recalled by vote. They would also be elected based on merit as opposed to a political candidate who is simply put forward by a party.
“Our poll shows that out of 100 responses received in the last few hours, 85 have voted ’yes’ and only 15 voted ’no’. Therefore, 85% of residents who participated so far believe that an independent candidate would serve Milnerton residents better.”
Paul Kariuki, a local government expert and director of the Democracy Development Programme, said: “My views are that an independent candidate may or may not be a solution to the challenges being faced by a particular community.
“An independent candidate may be able to address specific challenges concerning their constituency, but may be unable to enforce meaningful change as they may lack political support at the council level where decisions are made.
“This is as opposed to being part of a political party that has clout to influence decision making processes in favour of communities they represent,” added Kariuki.
Afesis-corplan is an NGO that is active in local government, and its executive director Nontando-Zintle Ngamlana said: “While we don’t know of any wards that are supporting and backing a non-party politically affiliated candidate currently, we have received requests from many residents and ratepayers association asking for our view on such a move.
“If one were to go only by such requests we would say there is a growing realisation within organised community organisations that their service delivery interests are best championed by a non-political party aligned candidate.”