It does not need educational qualifications to run a town. People might say Africans were savages for millennia before Europeans came around. But one thing is that Africans had run their villages more effectively in those millennia than they are doing today with their towns.

When modern African towns and cities are burgeoning with filthy shacks and vermin-infested slums, which are breeding grounds for crime and disease, and which make the towns unable to feed and provide adequate important services to the people such as water, electricity and sanitation, let alone food, then it means that these towns are not better off than the villages of the olden days.

Missionaries and the colonialists did not – in their diaries and journals – record or make any references to a dirty village when they made their first contacts with Africa.

This tells you that if today’s towns are dirty and unable to dispose of their garbage in an effective and environmentally sensitive manner, then you do know that this filth is not a consequence of your lack of education or technology.

Cleaning up the town does not need qualifications. A clean place, this is the first sign of development. Development is not just high-rise buildings, which too often are built with borrowed money or the buildings belong to foreign nationals. Development and an ascending civilization mean that people live in a decent place. Cleaning the place where people live and where they work, maintaining the towns and neighbourhoods and make them beautiful, it does not need qualifications or money. It needs desire.

Qualifications are only an advantage. When we talk of local government still we are talking of politics. Politics does not need qualifications. It only needs qualification in leadership. It’s because the politicians of today, and those of the past, don’t have the qualifications in leadership that the towns in this state of decay.

And qualification in politics is nothing else but passion, enthusiasm, and desire for public service. When it comes to running the towns, personal ambition is not what drives the person. The person is driven by the desire to serve the residents of the town to the best of his ability. And no one can possibly estimate the ability of a man or woman driven by passion for public service.

Universities since time immemorial have always tried to incorporate politics into their faculties as a discipline for studying and getting paper qualifications in. But the reality is that those qualifications never have any impact on the manner in which society goes forward. If a society is going forward or going backward as a result of its politics it all has nothing to do with the matter of educational qualifications.

Indeed even a bucketful of PhDs in a slum area will not be able to transform the slum and turn it into a leafy suburb.

Successful politics is desire – desire to serve. There is only one thing that can make you do the job at local government – it is desire. That is if you desire to serve humanity, if you desire to contribute to the development of your town for the benefit of the people who live there.

[The serialisation of the book “How to Do the Job at Local Government” continues. Don’t miss the next episode.]