South Africa

World city mayor qualifications – how Cape Town and Joburg compare


All mayors of world cities like London, New York, and Cape Town have a university degree or higher qualification, with one exception – Johannesburg.

Joburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda recently admitted that he had not completed school and did not obtain a matric certificate.

Gwamanda recently told Eyewitness News that his highest qualification was a National Intermediate Certificate (NIC).

An Intermediate Certificate (IC) is an NQF Level 3 qualification that is the same as Grade 11 or a Grade 11 equivalent.

This NQF is not only applied to high school and can also be received from courses taken through Umalusi-accredited training bodies.

A matric, better known as a National Certificate (NC), is NQF Level 4. It indicates that Gwamanda did not complete his schooling to matric level.

Gwamanda defended his qualification, saying he did not complete school to finish on other issues. “Focusing on building my family meant I had to work harder than the rest of us,” he said.

A university degree does not guarantee excellence or the ability to run a company, a municipality, or a world-class city.

Many people without degrees have reached the pinnacle of the business world, like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Johann Rupert.

However, there is a big difference between them and politicians without degrees, like Gwamanda, who are tasked with running complex cities with large budgets.

Entrepreneurs like Gates and Zuckerberg are incredibly smart and dropped out of university to pursue their business endeavours.

They went on to outperform their peers to create large, successful companies. They had to be brilliant at business. Otherwise, their companies would have failed.

However, in politics, the skillset to become a top politician or a mayor of a large metro differs from the skills needed to run a large city.

Reaching the top of the political world, especially in South Africa, does not require high cognitive ability, economic and financial insight, and exceptional organisational skills. However, running a world-class city does.

In the case of Johannesburg, many politicians who were not qualified or suited to run a large city with a budget of R80.9 billion were appointed as mayor in recent years.

The results are telling. Africa’s richest city is now crumbling under chaos and corruption and is such a mess that homeless people direct the traffic.

It is, therefore, not surprising that all the mayors of world cities are well-qualified with the skillset needed to run what is essentially a large business.

The alternative – taking a chance on a politician without the needed qualifications or track record of doing the job – can have disastrous consequences.

The image below shows the qualifications of the mayors of world cities around the globe.


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