Tahir Sema

National negotiator for the South African Local Government Bargaining Council

In the end, what will matter is the positive change you created in this world. Tahir Sema lives this notion, fuelled by his determination as a public servant to improve service delivery in South Africa. Appointed national negotiator for the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, Sema and his team negotiate conditions of service, salary and wages on behalf of more than 370 000 municipal workers across the country.

Through this, he strives to inspire and professionalise the municipal sector to achieve better customer service, a stable labour environment, and improved levels of service delivery to South Africans.

“I am passionate about improving the current levels of service delivery in municipalities throughout the country. I know the power of customer service and communications, and the role they can play in empowering citizens and facilitating change for the better. I am committed to a life-long career in improving service delivery in South Africa and reducing the high number of protests in our country,” he says.

In a bid to bring municipalities closer to South Africans, Sema has championed new forms of digital communication, including government’s first social media app that links councillors to communities and vice versa; a news agency for local government to better tell its stories; private and public sector partnerships; and campaigns to better profile South African local government to the world.

“In my role at the South African Local Government Association, I assist municipalities with how to better deal with and prevent protests, improve service delivery, improve customer service, communicate and engage efficiently, and how to use new and existing platforms to get closer to the people and their expectations,” explains Sema.

Just 30 years old, Tahir is inspired by the belief that he can affect change for the better. But he realises the challenges: he and others like him are up against examples in local government of fraud, corruption, nepotism, mismanagement and maladministration. “Such people make my job very challenging, as their actions take away from the little there is to provide basic services, and create the misguided perception that everyone in local government is corrupt.”

— Linda Doke

Twitter: @TahirSema