Political parties treating Durban residents like fools, says ActionSA national chairperson
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I served as a chief of staff to a former mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba.
During the course of that time, I came to learn that mayors in major metro cities wield enormous impact within that municipality.
The service delivery agenda is determined by the mayor. It arises from an electoral mandate and a manifesto that received sufficient support, but make no mistake mayors direct their leadership at service delivery priorities that the officials in the city respond to.
Mayors provide the impetus (or in your case in Durban, not) to combat corruption. I saw first-hand how, left to its own devices, city officials will obfuscate, delay and sometimes outright obstruct the efforts to hold corrupt officials to account. Mayors have to set the tone about how decisively these matters are responded to and what the organisational culture of accountability will be.
Through council, mayors set the performance management framework in the officialdom of a city. They determine what must be the performance management framework for city managers and heads of departments, and they ensure these priority areas are cascaded down throughout the organisation.
Mayors become instrumental in setting and managing the relationships with unions, and perhaps no area of government generates unhappy residents like a strike by refuse collectors.
It is safe to say that who your mayor is really matters. I would go further to say that the mayor of a city could be of equal or greater consideration than which political party they come from.
As residents of Durban you don’t need me to tell you this, the mayor you elected in 2016, along with her co-accused, stands charged with 2 786 counts of fraud and corruption. Of all South Africans, the residents of Durban least require a lecture on the importance of who your mayor is.
So why am I telling you all this?
The course of this election campaign has seen political parties launching campaigns, unveiling mayoral candidates and announcing plans for the metro cities across South Africa.
Everywhere except in Durban.
In Durban, the ANC, the DA and the EFF have not bothered to put forward a mayoral candidate. They are expecting you to just hand over your votes, like you were being mugged, and they will let you know when it suits them who they may put forward to lead your city.
Rather than harping on about what I would advance is our shared indignation about this situation, let me take the time to talk to you about the only mayoral candidate of a major party that has been put forward in your city, ActionSA’s Dr Makhosi Khoza.
The name will be familiar to you, most probably because of her bravery. Khoza was the ANC MP who famously stood up to Jacob Zuma when nobody was doing so, and openly declared her intention to vote for a motion of no-confidence against him.
The people of Durban could do with that kind of bravery in the efforts to root out corruption.
That bravery was not a once-off feature of Khoza. She was detained many times for her activism against apartheid, the first detention taking place when she was just 13 years old.
Khoza holds a PhD, completing her dissertation in implementing total quality management systems within the local government framework. She was the youngest deputy mayor in South Africa in 1996 when she became the deputy mayor of Pietermaritzburg. She later went on to serve as the CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal local government association where she authored a book on how to train councillors to serve communities effectively.
I am going to go out on a limb here to suggest that no party will put forward a candidate as qualified in local government as Khoza.
Khoza has worked in the private sector in the banking industry, most politicians wouldn’t be employable outside of politics, and is an activist for education – even authoring a book using the structure of the Zulu language to help learners study maths.
Beyond this considerable array of achievements there is something that you should know about Khoza. She has fire in her belly, a passion that burns to do what is right and what improves the lives of people, and she has a demonstrated track record that nothing will stop her in achieving her objectives.
So, you have a choice in these elections.
You can choose Khoza with all of these achievements, virtues and leadership qualities that will serve you well, or you could choose to give your vote to a faceless political party that does not even have the respect to allow you to assess who they are putting forward.
The choice is yours and as someone who grew up in Durban and misses it terribly, choose wisely because political parties may not.
Michael Beaumont is the national chairperson for ActionSA and a former Durban resident
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