With local government elections upon us, prospective ward councillors have come out of the woodwork looking for our votes.
Whoever we choose is going to earn a nice, fat government salary with perks when they get elected, so make sure that your ward councillor has the best interests of you and your community at heart.
You might not think that your ward councillor affects your personal finances, but they do.
Here are some things to consider when making your cross at the ballot box next month:
1. Does your prospective ward councillor live in the area, and will they be easily accessible?
If they do, you can save lots of time and money in travelling.
You may need to fill out forms for a grant application.
Instead of travelling to and from municipal offices, you could get your councillor to download and print the necessary forms, assist you with filling it out and ensure that it gets to where it needs to be.
Your councillor should also be available to assist you with physical and online applications for grants, employment opportunities, school fee exemptions, etc.
2. Your councillor should be able to tell you how much money has been allocated to your ward for projects that could employ people from within the community on a stipend basis.
If you are unemployed, this could help you tremendously.
3. Covid-19 and the lockdowns have given side hustles a real boost.
It is awesome to see so many small businesses pop up.
But somewhere along the line, we have to take it a step further and grow our business.
Sadly, this takes money, which many small business owners simply don’t have.
However, there are lots of organisations who will help with the correct setting up of small businesses.
From business plans, company registrations and access to funding – it is all there.
All ward councillors have access to information with regards to the proper setup of small businesses and should be able to guide you and assist you with paperwork.
4. You might be spending a small fortune taking your car to work, because it is unsafe to stand and wait for a bus or taxi in a street where the lights are not working.
Often people end up getting sick and have to use precious sick leave, simply because they waited in the pouring rain at a bus stop without shelter.
This is something that your ward councillor can and should fix.
5. Your child might be getting ill frequently because they have to walk through unkempt bushes, flooded and sewage filled streets and dirt on their way to school.
This means you have to fork out money for doctor visits or have to take off from work to go to the local clinic.
6. School transport is expensive.
Your entire life, schedule and budget is negatively affected when your child is not accepted into a school in your area.
Your ward councillor should be able to take this up with the Department of Education and other relevant roleplayers.
7. Neglected sports facilities mean that you have to spend money on transport to take your child outside of the community to access coaches and training that should be available on your doorstep.
If ward councillors in richer communities can see to it that facilities are looked after, your representative should do the same.
8. Potholes in roads can cause major damage to your car and the City doesn’t help you pay for your repairs.
It comes out of your own pocket.
Ensure that you take this and any other road and traffic issues up with your elected official.
Fixing the roads is part of what they are getting paid for.
9. If you are eligible for reductions and writing off of municipal bills, you can save quite a bit of money by correctly applying for it.
Your ward councillor can help you with this.
10. Feeding schemes play a huge role in our communities – and prospective ward councillors should already be playing an active role in poverty-alleviating activities.
Be careful of the wolves in sheep’s clothing who pop up with food parcels ahead of the polls.
You might not realise it, but the services delivered to you by your local municipality, and how these services are brought to your community through your ward councillor affects your quality of life as well as your pockets.
You should therefore scrutinise all prospective candidates, and when they do get the job, you should hold them accountable.
Talk is cheap.
Action, as well as inaction over the years, is what counts.
Don’t fall for empty promises and predictable, pre-election tricks.
Make sure that your community receives the services that you rightly deserve.
We need people who truly care about uplifting our communities.
We don’t need political puppets who are too scared to rock the party boat, but are eager to collect their fat salaries at month end.
We need them to stand firm to help us.
Your vote really counts.