THE Democratic Alliance (DA) is inviting applications from all interested members of the public who wish to serve as councillors for the party in the 2016 local government elections.
The process is expected to promote competition in the party’s ranks.
DA federal council chair and political head of the selection process James Selfe said yesterday that the process would run until late next year. It would include vetting of applicants and political training.
The councillors are paid about R431,331 a year and executive mayors more than R1m, which could make the invitation attractive in a country troubled by high unemployment.
“We have already had people who have applied for the prospective candidates’ programme. People who do not have the skills will be trained to compete with incumbents. After this training people can be included in the line-up of candidates, if they have the skills or attributes we need in order to govern or represent the people better,” Mr Selfe said.
The party would spend R2.5m to select about 900 candidates from ordinary South Africans interested in a career in politics. The DA grew its electoral support from 12.3% at the national elections in 2009 to 16.6% on May 7.
The party wants to increase the number of municipalities it controls to include metropolitan Nelson Mandela Bay and the cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. It used the same tactic to recruit former prosecutor at the National Prosecuting Authority Glynnis Breytenbach as a DA member of Parliament earlier this year.
An online application will cost R125 and a manual one R300.
This amount is nonrefundable, but Mr Selfe said the fees would finance about 80% of the administrative costs of vetting and training applicants. “It’s an administration handling fee. It takes a great deal of money to process applications because each one will go to an electoral college and panel process and the fee will subsidise this.”
The party expected between 8,000 to 10,000 council hopefuls but was looking to increase its 1,800 councillors to 2,700 after the 2016 local government elections.
DA leader in Gauteng John Moodey dismissed a suggestion that the process indicated a lack of faith in the ability of its members to represent the party, saying the process would draw the best skills to the party.
“In Gauteng we have about 450 councillor seats. A process like this is important in that it brings in competence and competition. These individuals that come in and participate will bring people in for our takeover of the metros,” Mr Moodey said.
The DA grew its seat allocation in Parliament from 67 to 89 in the May polls. The party’s Gauteng legislature caucus grew from 17 members to 23. Mr Moodey hoped to grow its 20,000 activists in Gauteng to 50,000.