The law allows anybody to stand for election to be a Ward Councillor as an Independent if they don’t belong to a political party.
The IEC requires the candidate to be formally nominated together with the signatures of 50 voters but it is very easy. We must submit the required documents during the candidate nomination period, which is published in the election timetable by the IEC once an election date has been proclaimed. An Independent can be nominated by anybody who live in the ward and is registered on that municipal segment of the voters’ roll.
There are benefits to registering a community candidate as an Independent.
An Independent Councillor is only accountable to the residents in the Ward and nobody else. This means that they can fiercely represent the ward and its interests in Council, stand with residents without fear of reprisal, and avoid having to compromise on values when it comes to issues of solidarity and transformation.
An Independent Councillor, once elected, is more easily able to collaborate with any individual, movement or organisation in the ward without them being seen as acting in support of a political party.
A campaign to elect an Independent Councillor can be managed by a Ward Platform that relies on volunteers and doesn’t require too much formal structure. An Independent Councillor can only demonstrate how to reclaim local democracy and open up politics if she or he is supported by committed volunteers to give effect to these ideals long after winning an election. This may be hard to sustain over a five year period.
The effectiveness of an Independent Councillor relies entirely on their own values and skills. If they don’t perform there is no way to improve the situation unless there is formal community agreement in place which has legal standing.