Why is councillor a job to kill for? You don't need qualifications: expert

18 July 2017 - 13:50 By Nathi Olifant
Gun. File photo
Gun. File photo
Image: iStock

You don't need to be qualified to be a councillor‚ and this is why people are killed over the coveted posts.

So says University of KwaZulu-Natal academic Prof Paulos Zulu‚ speaking at the Moerane Commission into political violence on Tuesday morning. He argued that the fact that anyone could be elected a councillor in South Africa - regardless of their qualifications – was one of the main drivers of political violence.

Explaining the underlying causes of political killings in the province‚ Zulu told the commission that if politicians‚ especially at councillor level‚ had to be qualified to take up their posts‚ the need to kill for positions would be greatly eliminated. Zulu said there was more competition for councillor positions than was the case in the national assembly or provincial legislatures.

He said the salary of a councillor was‚ generally‚ well over R15‚000.

Zulu said the culture of resolving conflict through violence was already entrenched in South Africa‚ meaning that all the ingredients for political killings were in place.

"This country is anarchic. When there are street demonstrations‚ they turn into violence. Say‚ if I don’t like my employer‚ I block the N3 [highway]‚" he said.

Asked about solutions‚ Zulu said that while policing would be a short-term solution‚ qualifications for political positions should be put as high priority.

"To be in council one must appreciate the budget‚ have grasp of the statistics and know that if you have 'X' and not 'Y'‚ you cannot get there. There's a serious dearth of skills. But [instead]‚ those who shout the most and sing the most at rallies get the positions‚" he said. If you have a qualification you won't go to the extent of killing because you are marketable."

He said current violence was different from that of the 1980s in that it played out on different battlefields.

"The 80s was complex in terms of participants‚ but violence today is very selective. It does not target ordinary people unless they are hit by a stray bullet. It targets people who occupy positions in society‚" said Zulu.

Zulu said South Africans do not like competition and that there was a culture of competition-elimination.

"My contention is there seems to be a culture of eliminating the competition. We have an elimination culture‚" he said‚ adding that it was a case of "why not eliminate the opposition" instead of outperforming them.

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