Saving South Africa: Lessons from the uMngeni Municipality Success Story by Chris Pappas and Sandile Mnikathi

Saving South Africa is not just a local success story but a template for national inspiration. Emphasizing good governance and resilience, Chris Pappas and Sandile Mnikathi are carving out a path for progress, all in the name of a better South Africa.

‘Many of us are looking for hope. We want to believe that tomorrow will be better than today.
A municipality is an important partner to ensure that people feel hopeful. There are many problems, and the system is designed to fail more than succeed. But we have an obligation to try to get it right – to maintain hope.’ — Sandile Mnikathi, uMngeni Deputy Mayor

Saving South Africa: Lessons from the uMngeni Municipality Success Story by Chris Pappas and Sandile Mnikathi

by Chris Pappas

The Democratic Alliance won control of the uMngeni Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands after the local government elections in 2021. As the only DA-run municipality in KZN, uMngeni provides a template for how local government could work in a post-ANC South Africa. Written by two leaders at the very heart of the project, Saving South Africa reveals the challenges, the triumphs and disasters the new administration has encountered along the way.

It is an eye-opening exposé of how cadre deployment has helped to bring the country to its knees. It is a story of incompetent officials, political spies, gun-wielding tenderpreneurs, petty theft and grand larceny. And yet, as we follow the authors on their journey, there is always hope for a better future as the corrupt layers of local governance are gradually stripped away, revealing the responsive and caring civil service envisioned by the South African Constitution.

Chris Pappas shot to fame in 2021 when the Democratic Alliance succeeded the ANC at the helm of the KZN Midlands Municipality of uMngeni. As the mayor of uMngeni, Pappas was given the task of turning around a dysfunctional municipality. He gained a deep understanding of both the isiZulu language and Zulu culture growing up on the family farm near Mooi River. Pappas was educated at Hilton College and the University of Pretoria. He is the DA’s preferred candidate for premier of KZN.

Sandile Mnikathi is the deputy mayor of uMngeni Municipality. He was born in Underberg and raised by his grandmother and her employers. Mnikathi was educated at Howick High School and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He started as a volunteer with the DA while studying at UKZN and subsequently became a ward councilor for the party in Nottingham Road. As the head of several portfolios, Mnikathi is intimately involved with the turnaround of uMngeni Municipality.