The training of Blacks at local government level in Natal.
Macdonald, Cynthia Elizabeth.
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It is a hypothesis of this dissertation that the establishment of fully operational, autonomous Black local authorities will contribute to the peace and stability of South Africa and would ultimately have far reaching effects. This hypothesis is based on the postulation that the original establishment of proclaimed Black residential areas was cardinal to the policy of apartheid. This residential separation and other aspects of community life, e..g. employment and mobility, were maintained by legislation and institutions devoted to the application and administration of the legislation were created. This policy extended over a period of nearly four decodes during which the internal and external resistance to an apartheid policy increased with dramatic socio-economic effect. In 1985 Dr Piet Koornhof, South African Ambassador to the United States of America, announced at the press conference in Washington, D.C. that ·apartheid was dead: During the period prior to this statement, 1982 to 1986, enactments viewed as the cornerstone of the separation policy were repealed or amended by new legislation such as; Abolition of Influx Control Act, 1986 (Act 66 of 1966), Abol1tion of Development Bodies Act, 1986 (Act 75 of 1986), Black Communities Development Act, 1964 (Act 4 of 1984). Internally radical elements violently opposed to the government launched a campaign of destruction and intimidation largely confined to the Black residential areas. Generally this has been a Black on Black violence and led to the declaration of a state of emergency on 9 May 1986 which has continued to the present time. An examination of these unfortunate circumstances has led the writer to believe that there must be support in the Block communities for the reform process. It is held that the organisations opposed to any participation in this process have recognised that it could succeed. The ·soft under-belly· is the conditions prevailing in the Black towns and residential areas within the Republic. Official announcements have been made acknowledging that the earlier policy had failed and that a developmental backlog existed which is to be eliminated. The strategy of the subversive elements is to prevent~ or delay~ the improvements so as to exploit the dissatisfaction of the people most affected, the Black communities. Despite the very violent tactics applied under this strategy many Black communities and their leaders participated in the system~ serving on community councils et al. Within Natal there are eighteen formally established Black towns and in the three ye~rs prior to 1968 only three did not have properly functioning community councils. On the announcement that local government elections would be held on 26 October 1988 throughout the country for all local government bodies, predictions were made that these would not succeed, certainly not in the Black areas. These predictions proved to be false and the situation in Natal was that 132 candidates were nominated against a total of 108 vacancies. This and subsequent events showed that there was a willingness to participate. In the period between nominations and election day there was constant and close contact with all eighteen towns and the following impressions were gleaned. 1. The electorate generally was prepared to participate but did not ful1y understand the democratic system of nominations and elections. At many private and public meetings the view was aired that nomination was infact~ the selection of leaders and that no further action was required. The people themselves maintained that the nomination of an unopposed candidate was the total endorsement of that candidate and he could take office immediately. 2. Candidates who had served as community councillors were prepared to accept nomination~ and were supported by their communities~ but did not understand the differences between community councils and local authorities. 3. Both the public and the candidates were sceptical about the real powers and duties of local authority bodies. 4. The attitude was often challenging in that the public and the candidates made it known that they would participate on the basis that after the elections the "government of the people by the people for the greatest good of the greatest number" would have to be demonstrated. One subsequently successful candidate stated that if this did not occur he would step aside for the "forces of revolution". In the event~ the elections in Natal took place without any incident. The highest percentage poll was over 68% and only one of the qualifying towns did not participate. The stage is now set for the further development of Black local authorities. Successful local authority administration will further confound those who 'seek advantage from chaos and anarchy. Efficient and effective administration can only be achieved through the efforts of dedicated officials and members who have the skills to perform their function well. It is not denied that local government per se is the most important level of government because it affects the daily lives of a11. It is accepted that it is in the interest of 011 that all local government bodies be given every assistance to develop , end improve. Historically instability and violent resistance to local government has been experienced on I y in the Black communities. This violence and instability has been exploited and widely publicised overseas in an ongoing campaign to overthrow the government. Clearly the highest priority is the improvement of the Black local authorities and this improvement must involve the people themselves. The long term effects of the development~ training and guidance of the Black people in a system of -government of the people by the people- will be peace and stability nationally. This dissertation deals with the identification of the needs for training~ the support for this training and on indication of what should be done in this regard for the Natal Black local authorities.