The South African Local Government Association (Salga) found that 62% of councillors did not have the needed computer skills to pass crucial municipal budgets.
Salga’s national working group chairperson, Bheki Stofile, said in an eNCA interview that they discovered this challenge during lockdown when municipalities had to operate with remote workers.
During the lockdown, municipalities still had to comply with legislative prescripts like passing budgets.
“Many municipalities struggled to comply with prescripts and pass budgets. Councillors are used to meeting under one roof without having to use gadgets,” he said.
“We picked up that many councillors found it difficult to use computing devices when working remotely, which we have to improve in the future.”
Commenting on the level of computer skills among councillors, Stofile said many of them cannot use remote working tools like Zoom.
“Some councillors have an inability to cross from Zoom to access their documents and then move back to Zoom again,” he said.
Stofile said that while they encounter councillors who cannot use a computer at all, most of the problems occur with remote working tools.
He said Salga engaged with political parties to urge them to select councillors with the needed skills to perform their duties, especially in a digital and remote working environment.
The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Thembisile Simelane-Nkadimeng, bemoaned councillors’ lack of computer literacy in a News24 election podcast.
Simelane-Nkadimeng said she hopes the 2021 municipal elections will result in more capacitated and skilled councillors.