President Thabo Mbeki has often emphasised that of the three tiers of government — national, provincial and local — the last is the most important in the sense that it is closest to the people. Yet local government is the one that is faltering to the point of being virtually dysfunctional in some instances. In this depressing atmosphere it is encouraging to note the positive turnaround in the Umgungundlovu District Municipality that has been notorious for inadequate service and corrupt administration. The enforced resignations of the municipal manager, Monica Mngadi, and her financial officer, Bongani Ndlovu, together with the departure under a cloud of the mayor, Bongi Sithole, paved the way for the provincial Department of Local Government to bring in Yusuf Bhamjee as mayor and Sibusiso Khuzwayo as acting municipal manager. Under this new personnel the crisis has begun to be resolved in a painstaking manner. This shows what can be done when a competent and trustworthy leadership is in place.