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'Service delivery vital but not sexy. It's sexier to talk of national visions'

27 September 2021 12:10 PM
Tags:
Municipal councillors
2021 local municipal elections

Lester Kiewit speaks to Paul Berkowitz of NPO The Third Republic which focuses on political change and grassroots democracy in SA.
  • Voter education 'is a moving target' says Paul Berkowitz, director of NPO The Third Republic
  • Now more than ever people know local government is about service delivery, he says
  • Political parties often focus on national vision rather than the nuts and bolts of service delivery because 'it is sexier', he adds

Photo by Siya Sokomani of Maphongwane Ave in Site C Khayelitsha

We head to the polls to vote for local government on 1 November - that's 8 metropolitan areas, 44 district municipalities, and 226 local municipalities.

The issues are literally street-level, says Lester, so there is surely no better way than to influence what happens on your street, your community than through voting in these upcoming elections.

Lester speaks to Paul Berkowitz, director of The Third Republic, a nonprofit organisation working for political change and grassroots democracy in South Africa.

Do South Africans understand the voting system and know how the ward councillor and proportional representation system works.

Berkowitz says it is not a clear line.

It's not as simple as a yes or no when it comes to voter education, It is always a moving target.

Paul Berkowitz, Director - Third Republic

He says demographically South Africa is a young country with a median age of 28-years-old.

And we know from the voter registration weekend and the written commentary about whether we have registered enough of the youth vote, that there are always young people coming up through the ranks and voting for the first time.

Paul Berkowitz, Director - Third Republic

Our system of local government is relatively young. We can trace it back to the year 2000 when we changed old apartheid boundaries and we included Soweto and Sandton in the same metro as the City of Johannesburg and changed the system of service delivery.

Paul Berkowitz, Director - Third Republic

Berkowitz says there is evidence that voter education has increased with a 'pretty good' turnout in the last two local government elections.

People know now more than ever before that local government is about basic service delivery.

Paul Berkowitz, Director - Third Republic

There does seem to be a narrative focused on national politics in the local electioneering process, he agrees.

Service delivery is vital but it is not sexy. It is sexier to talk about national visions or in the DA's case talk about the devolution of power.

Paul Berkowitz, Director - Third Republic

Berkowitz adds that these do pertain to local government and are also important.

But it is not something that will happen in a vacuum without the input of the national government which is ANC-led.

Paul Berkowitz, Director - Third Republic

But many people say they do not even know the ward councillors standing for election in their areas.




27 September 2021 12:10 PM
Tags:
Municipal councillors
2021 local municipal elections

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