Municipalities not employment agencies
KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, recently made the ‘startling’ discovery that more than 200 councillors across the province do not possess matric qualifications.
Who is to blame for that?
Surely councillors can’t be blamed for not having matric or any other qualification, since there is no clause requiring them to have certain qualifications before making themselves available for municipal elections.
Councillors are firstly elected by their political parties before being elected by their constituencies.
They have been elected on the basis of championing the interest of the people they lead, with special focus on ensuring service delivery in their communities.
There has been no emphasis on education as a criteria to be elected as a councillor.
Presenting her budget speech last week, DubeNcube said of the 1 846 councillors, 234 have some schooling but with no matric, four do not have any schooling, while 322 only have matric.
There is general agreement with the MEC that there is an urgent need to build capacity at local government level.
This is the most important sphere of government where bread and butter issues matter the most.
This is the only sphere of government that is close to the people on the ground.
It is also a fact that councillors lacking basic education often compromise the functioning of municipal councils to a certain point.
This is prevalent in especially rural municipalities where illiteracy levels are at a peak.
While the MEC made a valid point, the question remains when first did she realise the negative impact of having councillors without matric qualifications?
Why has this issue taken so long to be brought in the open?
I think all political parties need to take the flak for this disaster.
Collectively they have failed to make noise about councillors’ lack of basic education in relation to the competence required for the delivery of basic services.
History has taught us that the many political killings we have witnessed in the province are linked to councillors fighting for positions.
I’m now convinced that had the issue of qualifications been made a requirement from the word go, we would not have so much tension linked to the position of being a councillor.
In political circles, becoming a councillor has become one of the most sought after positions.
The sad reality is that many politicians tend to use municipal ‘deployment’ as an ‘employment agency’.