If he had things his way, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa would become the mayor of a small town in Limpopo. He told this to delegates on Tuesday at the South African Local Government Association (Salga) national conference in Sandton.
Ramaphosa affirmed his confidence in councillors elected to lead communities and highlighted the need to change negative public perceptions about the leadership quality at local government level. One of these perceptions is the idea of rampant corruption at local government level.
“No councillor must ever again be a councillor who is regarded as chowing the people’s money. No councillor should be regarded as corrupt,” he said.
Part of changing this narrative will involve councillors learning skills which Ramaphosa believes will help them execute their responsibilities effectively. One of these skills is financial literacy, which the deputy president believes will contribute to the economic development of municipalities.
“We want councillors who are capable, councillors that understand public finances, councillors who are able to interpret the finance minister’s budget and analyse it at the local level,” he said.
The most recent Municipal Audit Report highlighted a number of challenges faced by municipalities including increases in irregular expenditure as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The deputy president stressed to delegates the importance of effective financial management as a means of delivering quality services to citizens.
Before closing off his address, Ramaphosa acknowledged the important role of those working at local government level, and even confessed to envying them.
“I think you guys have a great job. You have such a great job, my ambition is to become a local councillor and hopefully become a mayor in some small town somewhere in Limpopo,” he said.
While Ramaphosa has ambitions of becoming mayor, others believe he should set his sights on being president instead. He has already been endorsed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions to take over as ANC president next year.
Still Ramaphosa has expressed his enthusiasm at the work done by local government structures and says he looks forward to seeing a vibrant local government dispensation in the country.