Local elections – challenges and opportunities

With the local elections around the corner, the North-West University (NWU) Business School recently hosted its sixth Think Tank webinar on the state of local government and the upcoming elections.

The webinar exposed how the elections, together with other efforts, could present opportunities to change the current local government crisis. The challenges and opportunities that these elections could impose on small businesses were also discussed.

The four keynote speakers of the event included Job Mokgoro, former Premier of the North West Province, Alan Mukoki, CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce Industry, John Dludlu, CEO of the Small Business Institute, and Johannes Wessels from the Rural Integration Consultancy.

From the content of the presentations, it was clear that all the speakers agreed that local government and related governance are in crisis and that the coming election presents an opportunity to bring about necessary changes on this level.

During his presentation, Job said 90% of the municipalities in South Africa are dysfunctional. He added that municipalities are the bedrock of the economy and new solutions are needed to solve these old problems.

“Cadre deployment, mismatch of skills and incompetence are at the core of problems related to the failure of local government. The dysfunction of municipalities affects small businesses, and I encourage the public to vote wisely and select people who have the best interests of South Africans and small businesses at heart.”

Alan mentioned that two of the biggest problems in South Africa are corruption and competence. “We can root out corruption, but if we are incompetent we won’t grow the economy.”

He added that, for South Africa to solve its unemployment, hunger, inequality and poverty problems, there needs to be a shift in values and culture, and people with the necessary skills need to be deployed to local government.

According to Johannes, local businesses – and specifically organised businesses – play an important role in creating conditions necessary for growth and job creation.

“The role of entrepreneurs is an important prerequisite for growth and development, and many of them are leaving as a result of endemic conditions in certain local government environments. A total culture change is needed to address these systematic problems that are found at a local level,” he said.

For more detail, please contact NWU Business School faculty liaison officer Simoné Laubscher at Simone.Laubscher@nwu.ac.za.

Submitted by BELINDA BANTHAM on Thu, 09/30/2021 - 13:48