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When Mayors go high-tech, residents must follow…

This wonderful story has a South African ending...

A Brazilian Mayor used WhatsApp to run the town. Using her cellphone. Lidiane Leite is believed to have communicated with officials in the town of Bom Jardim in Brazil’s northwest by sending WhatsApp messages.
She also had a residents’ group on WhatsApp where she warned of road works being done etc. and also communicated about upgrades to local schools, sports facilities etc. This wonderful story has a South African ending, though, hence the use of the past tense.
Mayor Leite did not live in the town she was first citizen of – she lived the life of luxury in Sao Luiz, the state capital of Maranhão, 277km from the town.
She is accused of siphoning off $4m from the town’s schools budget in one of Brazil’s poorest states, according to the BBC.
Her boyfriend, Beto Rocha, has previously been banned from running for mayor in 2012 due to corruption allegations. Now, out here in the wilds of Noord-Natal we can relate to the corruption allegations when it comes to local government.
Nepotism, jobs for pals, advertising municipal vacancies in a one-language newspaper, promoting people who do not have any qualifications… it is all well-documented, well-known and likely to continue until Thalana High School makes Afrikaans their official language of instruction.
However, let’s not focus only on the negatives about Mayor Leite. Imagine if our crowd used WhatsApp to communicate with their residents? It would be fantastic – Mayor Mahaye goes high tech and spends most of his working hours frantically thumbing-in data to his phone like ‘Watch out, motorists, there is a moer of a pothole on the Victoria Street Bridge.’ or, ‘Good news, guys, there is an all night party at the Oval this weekend’ or even ‘There is a Council meeting at 3pm today – we are going to discuss how we are going to spend your money.’
People will flock to be at that Council meeting. The thing is, the Mayor will have to employ a tech-savvy secretary to do all the WhatsApping as he simply would not get the time. We could get Vodacom to sponsor cellphones to those on the ‘indigent list’. The WhatsApp could also be the ideal way of tipping off the electrical department when it comes to exposing naughty residents who have illegal power connections.
To extrapolate the concept, how about the police having a WhatsApp group, specifically to deal with crime tip offs. Problem is some of the baddies, like Mayor Leite, will also have access to the messages which could prove nasty.
Well, at least our good Mayor lives in Endumeni…

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