Nomusa Dube-Ncebe MEC for Cogta in KwaZulu-Natal with Dr Zweli Mkhize national MEC for Cogta congratulating councillors Jabu Mkhwanazi (left) Nozi Dzingwa with Matho Shozi and Cynthia Ntabebeni at their graduation ceremony. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency/(ANA)

Durban - Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister, Zweli Mkhize, on Thursday, told hundreds of women councillors at a special graduation ceremony that they should use their new qualifications to improve the lives of their communities.

Mkhize made the remarks while giving an address at the start of the Women In Leadership Dialogue being held at Durban’s Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

Mkhize described the graduation ceremony as “glorious”, and said that the “quest for knowledge” displayed by the graduates boded well for South Africa.

“Education is how we will lift our communities out of poverty and unemployment,” he said.

The graduates completed courses in legislative frameworks for local government, leadership and the Constitution, amongst others.  

Empowering councillors and Amakhosi to obtain qualifications was the brainchild of KwaZulu-Natal’s Cogta member of the executive council (MEC), Nomusa Dube-Ncube. Mkhize said he was so impressed with the initiative that the national department would develop it and ready it for countrywide implementation.

“For South African municipalities to function efficiently, critical skills need to be at the core of each strategic position. This initiative provides a good grounding for us to work towards efficiency in local government,” said Mkhize.

Turning to issues of female empowerment, Mkhize told the graduates that Cogta’s KZN office had taken an important step by investing in women leaders.

“We encourage you to go to your communities and make sure that you lead the struggle against social ills such as poverty, crime, disease, ignorance, injustice and others,” he said.

The country was striving for a future that was democratic and non-racial, he said, and the government needed to be transparent and accountable. 

“Your leadership must help us build this future and a country that we can be proud of.”

With their newly acquired leadership skills, the graduates were also expected to play a “meaningful role” in tackling the political killings that had plagued the province, said Mkhize.

Earlier in the week, Dube-Ncube said the initiative was important as councillors were expected to serve communities that were increasingly sophisticated as a result of living in the knowledge economy.

“The graduation ceremony will be a crowning moment for councillors to serve with confidence in the fast-paced, complex, volatile and uncertain local government environment. KZN will be the first province to empower councillors on such a grand scale," she said.

Minister in the Presidency, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will give a keynote address at the conference on Friday.

African News Agency (ANA)