'The real state capture is at local government level' - Ramaphosa tells mayors

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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  • Cyril Ramaphosa says the outsourcing of services at municipalities makes local government vulnerable to capture.
  • The president was addressing a Council of Mayors conference in East London.
  • Ramaphosa told the gathering that real state capture was at local government level. 

While state capture is rated by many as the biggest scandal in post-apartheid South Africa, for President Cyril Ramaphosa the real capture is at local government level. 

Ramaphosa said this on Thursday when he addressed the more than 100 mayors who converged at East London's International Convention Centre for a two-day Council of Mayors conference, which was organised by the SA Local Government Association (Salga). 

READ Steenhuisen not convinced by Ramaphosa's claim that ANC 'dips heads in shame over corruption'

During his keynote address, Ramaphosa brought corruption, maladministration and mismanagement of funds into sharp focus, urging mayors to stand up against criminals who are capturing municipalities. 

He also urged mayors to learn from the findings of the Auditor-General. 

Ramaphosa said:

The Auditor-General is not writing novel fictions. They follow what really happens, therefore you should take them seriously.

He said corruption undermined the work at local government level, which was the most important sphere of government. 

"I have heard about this, where everything is outsourced to serve outside interests, resulting in the municipality being captured," said Ramaphosa. 

"You have been talking about state capture and, in fact, we are finding that the real capture is happening at local government level, where certain interests just capture the entire municipality and they purportedly then provide every service."


Ramaphosa said that, due to this, it was often found that workers, who were originally employed to execute the functions offered by service providers, continued being paid every month for work being done by outsiders.  

READ Ramaphosa: I'm not having sleepless nights over divisions within ANC

Ramaphosa said:

I have heard stories of councils being captured by criminals - whereby, in the council chambers, you will find criminals sitting in the gallery among the audience watching closely over the council proceedings to hear how the councillors will vote on the distribution of equitable share. These criminals are waiting for their own share.

The conference was attended by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Police Minister Bheki Cele.

The host, the mayor of Buffalo City, Xola Pakati, and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane were also in attendance. 

During the speech, Ramaphosa urged mayors to develop their towns and cities by attracting investment from the private sector in order to create jobs. 


He advised mayors to cut ties with unscrupulous service providers, whose intentions were just to make a quick buck by milking municipal coffers. 

The Salga Council of Mayors has, since its formation in 2016, gathered mayors from across the country to deliberate and collaborate on matters concerning service provision, local governance and strengthening municipalities.

The event will also see mayors, who received mayoral chains for the first time after the 1 November local government elections, being inaugurated at the two-day event. 

READ Zondo, Ramaphosa ask court for more time to release, act on final part of state capture report

Ramaphosa's theme for the keynote address was "the role of mayors to enhance good governance and sustainability".

He said the capture of municipalities had to come to an end because it destroyed effective governance. 


According to Salga, the Council of Mayors event acts as a consultative forum for the development of local government positions on policies and on legislation impacting local government.

It said the structure also identifies policy and legislative matters which Salga needs to include in its advocacy, lobbying and strategic engagements.

Salga said in a statement:

This collective of mayors identifies challenges faced by the executive in municipalities and proposes solutions and approaches to address prevailing challenges facing local government.

Over the two days, members of the national executive of Salga will be expected to join the conference for discussions on transitional progress following the 2021 elections.

The discussions will focus on:

  • Local government finances;
  • Financial management and municipal financial recovery;
  • Opportunities for developing human settlements;
  • Safe and secure communities;
  • The rural roads programme;
  • The classification and proclamation of roads and related funding; and
  • The status of water, sanitation and waste management.


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