Vote for councillors who walk the talk, Ramaphosa urges voters
With only one week before the November 1 local government elections, President Cyril Ramaphosa says the electorate must vote for councillors who will bring about real change and not vanish after being voted into power.
Voters will choose their leaders from more than 94,000 candidates, including those from political parties and independents.
“We need local councillors who have a clear plan to promote investment and business opportunities in their area. They need to understand municipal services need to be delivered reliably and affordably to improve the lives of residents and ensure businesses can operate and thrive,” he said.
Among other priorities, Ramaphosa said councillors must prioritise the empowerment of young people and women. If necessary, they must change local bylaws and regulations so they can easily set up businesses, access municipal procurement opportunities and receive training and other support.
Writing in his Monday weekly newsletter, the president said these elections were an opportunity for people to make their voices heard about issues affecting their daily lives.
“These elections are about the material issues that matter most to people, such as access to water and electricity, properly functioning hospitals and clinics, safety and security guaranteed by an efficient police service, well-maintained roads and well-resourced public schools.”
Ramaphosa, who has been on the campaign trail for his party, said he had heard about councillors who are dedicated and who deliver on their promises. But he also heard of people’s frustration with councillors who are not accessible and do not attend to their grievances.
“We do not need candidates who make promises to communities at election time but vanish soon thereafter. Without accountability on the part of elected representatives and public officials — whether in national, provincial or local government — trust between the public and government is easily broken and difficult to regain,” he said.
“We need greater openness and engagement with communities by the elected officials, and it is our hope those who are elected this year take the matter of accountability seriously.”
Elections are ultimately about trust, he said.
Ramaphosa also spoke about the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc and worsened the country’s economic situation.
“If we are to get the country back on track, we need people at the helm who are not only capable, experienced and qualified but who are also honest and trustworthy.”
While he urged voters to make informed choices, he also said incoming councillors needed to be supported despite their political affiliations, if any.
“Before placing their trust in a candidate of choice, I urge all South Africans who will be voting next Monday to commit to working with whoever is ultimately elected, regardless of which political party they belong to. We should not say we have no interest in working with or assisting the newly elected official because they were not our favoured candidate.”