Service editor, Lindsay King
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As we ‘ease’ (I’m merely quoting most people I know working in either corporate forests or government jungles) into 2015 there is so much on my mind. And where I’m about to go, I’ve been wanting to go for a while, but I’ve just never had the right words. But the time has come, right words or not – like it or not!

Local government has for many years been frowned upon as the poisoned chalice in government – as the space where things often go wrong, as the place where we put the blame when things go pear-shaped, whether it’s service delivery or finance related. 

 Let’s be honest – as a nation we have ditched the municipal arena long before we became a democracy. And regardless of the efforts, we, the citizens, as the clients of local government, have never managed to gain confidence in the one tier of government that inevitably makes the biggest impact on our daily lives. Like I said – like it or not. But have we actually stopped and thought about how we can individually play a role in successful local governance?

When our previous Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, was appointed last year as the new Minister of  Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which ultimately and especially also governs our municipal world, many were questioning the appointment: from finance to cooperative governance and traditional affairs? The word demotion came up in many conversations, but in my humble opinion, it was a rather clever strategic move.

From government’s perspective, if Gordhan is expected to fix the department and have people regain confidence in the ANC before the local government elections in 2016, the ANC obviously has great trust in him. After all, he has looked after the country’s finances for five years. With his strong financial background and experience in the transformation of local government, should he not be perfectly positioned to lead the revolution and bring our municipalities to safer ground?

But more importantly, in executing the ultimate goals set out for him by government (to gain confidence and votes for the ruling party among the people), should Gordhan succeed and sort out the many municipal issues, it will be much more than a political victory for the ANC. It will be one of phenomenal economic proportions for South Africa – for you and for me!

Just imagine the possibilities when municipalities in South Africa can truly say that they are run as successful businesses with happy clients all round. Imagine the possibilities when all our municipalities end up with clean audits. Imagine a life in South Africa with no service delivery issues.

Imagine Gordhan being able to sort out one of the biggest challenges in South Africa.

And my message is? The year 2014 was one of the most challenging for local government in the history of South Africa. We’ve had tough times all round, and precisely because of that, I’ve heard many say that 2015 will be different – and they are prepared to help make a difference. I really like that attitude.

So as we move into second gear in 2015, I commend the positive attitudes of fellow South Africans. As for the development of local government, Mr Gordhan, you have my full support – at this point in time, you’re pretty much all we’ve got. And that, in my humble opinion, is quite a lot.






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This edition

Issue 68