POLITICAL parties have until Wednesday to submit their councillor lists to the Electoral Commission of SA, while the authority has until Friday to publish the voters roll for inspection and the auditor-general is due to detail how the country’s municipalities performed in the previous financial year.
These three events make this one of the most important weeks on the political calendar, as all three underpin the fact that the country is heading for what could be a watershed local election.
The ward councillor lists have been a source of division and have been marred by violence across the political divide, while the body count keeps piling up. Analysts have already predicted the build-up to the August poll will be one of the most violent on record. KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and Gauteng have been the most troublesome flash points.
Come what may, the lists have to be submitted on Wednesday.
Last Monday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Desmond van Rooyen proclaimed the election date.
On Tuesday, the commission, which is awaiting a Constitutional Court ruling on the voters roll, is due to clarify issues about the roll. It will be a keenly watched event as the credibility of the electoral authority will ride on how it handles the roll issue, which will no doubt be closely scrutinised by opposition parties.
They say numbers do not lie, and on Wednesday, auditor-general Kimi Makwetu will tell citizens how the country’s municipalities performed financially. Political parties usually use audit outcomes as an electioneering tool, either to highlight their own achievements or to denigrate their rivals.
Clean and unqualified audits are the gold standards all parties aspire to, but few can attain this as municipalities are often the worst sites for irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Sticking with the election theme, MPs will exchange their benches for the streets when Parliament goes on a long recess in the run-up to the August poll.
On Monday, the financial and fiscal commission, which tabled its report last Friday, will give a briefing on its submission for the division of revenue for 2017-18.
On the rally and speaking circuit, former finance minister and erstwhile minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel will kick things off on Wednesday at a breakfast during which he will talk about the National Development Plan.
On Thursday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which was unseated by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union in the platinum belt and whose dominance at gold mines is also under threat, holds its central committee meeting. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, a former union boss; South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown are due to show face at the NUM event.
Finally, on Saturday, the ANC in Gauteng will attempt to outdo the mother body’s dismal showing in Nelson Mandela Bay by trying to fill the 90,000-seater First National Bank Stadium.
The ANC’s manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth was a nonstarter, but the party’s Gauteng leadership is confident it will not suffer the same fate.
This despite the fact that the ANC in Gauteng is under pressure in the province’s metros.