Why are these elections important?

JOBURG – Wits experts weigh in on upcoming local government elections.


With just less than two weeks to the Municipal Elections that will be held on 3 August, Dr Lindiwe Makhunga of the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) believes that the major issue influencing voters will be related to service delivery and the quality of life that South Africans live.

Makhunga did mention that service delivery is what local government elections are about. She highlighted that elections were important as they acted as a mechanism to hold government accountable. “As citizens, we need to express ourselves through voting to let the government know how we feel about what is happening.”

Read: A few things you need to know about the municipal elections

Adjunct Professor at the School of Governance at Wits, Mike Muller said people are getting tired about service delivery talk. He mentioned that people are realising that spending lots of money on building infrastructure does not necessarily amount to service delivery.

He explained that, if statistics say 95 percent of South Africans have access to infrastructure, that should provide them with water – but when you ask if people have water you get a different answer. “People will say yes, we have taps and pipes but we do not have water.”

He mentioned that this is a point that is going to bite political parties that raise the flag and say they are committed to service delivery. “People are going to ask, what service?”

Another interesting point made by Muller was that these elections were about proper municipal management. He highlighted that municipal managers need to project services for the future and not just the present. “People need to know if they will have water next year and not just this year.” He made reference to the recent drought experienced in the country. He said that with good management, it could have been easily picked up that dam levels were low and action could have been implemented from the outset.

Read: Here’s to an inclusive and efficient city – Tau

He said if voters realise that things are deliberately badly managed in municipalities, things it would get bad for incumbent parties.

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