Meeting between councillors - speech

Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Mrs Hazel Jenkins on the occasion of the meeting between councillors, Upington, Progress Hall, 27 June 2011

Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council
All Mayors and Councillors
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am indeed honoured to address this august gathering of municipal councillors. This event occurs against the backdrop of robust, interesting yet exhilarating local government elections that was held on 18 May 2011. At the outset I take this opportunity in congratulating both new and returning councillors on their appointment or deployment.

I, together with the executive Council are confident that you will all live up to the hopes and aspirations of the many people who elected you as their public representatives- people that remain destitute and who do not have access to basic services such as water, electricity, health care and decent houses. Gone are the days when councillors sit idle and not attend to the business of their communities.

As a former councillor, I am certain that each of you will bring a conscious desire and determination to execute your responsibilities to the best of your ability in advancing the interest of your respective communities.

In other words councillors are people who are supposed to be accountable and dedicating themselves to uplifting our communities for the better. You assumed office with a deep and clear sense of your obligations to the communities you serve. You have taken up this noble calling of a municipal councillor knowing full well that you cannot and will not betray the trust of the people who have put you into office.

We urge all of you to commit to government’s priorities of accelerating service delivery in order to meet national targets as set by President Jacob Zuma in the State of the Nation address.
These key priorities are:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Rural development and agrarian reform
  • The fight against crime; and
  • Creating decent work

To this end you have indeed accepted this responsibility to serve your communities, mindful of their legitimate needs and expectations. Moreover, by doing so, you have pledge your steadfast commitment to serve them to create better communities and better municipalities.
Our collective responsibility therefore Ladies and Gentlemen, is to strive to achieve all the goals we have set ourselves in order to enhance the quality of life of all our people.

I am hopeful that though your unflinching dedication and sheer hard-work, underpinned by the tremendous goodwill of our people a new era will certainly be embarked upon in the functioning of municipalities both by councillors and officials.

Being mindful of our quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, the government has declared war against poverty.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe visited Emthanjeni and Ronesterberg Municipalities in the Pixley Ka Seme district in the Northern Cape Province over the weekend 24-25 June 2011, to assess the implementation of the government’s War on Poverty programme. The War On Poverty Campaign, led by the Deputy President, forms part of government efforts to fast-track the delivery of government services to improve the lives of the people especially in those areas trapped in poverty.

The Provincial Government will continuously engage municipalities, in terms of their positioning, to be effective and responsive to expedite the service delivery needs of our people because local government is at the coalface of service delivery, the sphere of government were we must serve all our people with compassion, dignity and humility. It is at the level where we interact on a daily basis with our communities and experience their hardship and suffering.

It is the sincere wish of the provincial government to make our people’s experience of local government as satisfactory and as pleasant as possible, as it touches our lives on an ongoing basis.

In accordance with the vision of government I foresee that collectively we will witness renewal at the local level in the areas of public safety, poverty eradication, local economic development, housing, agricultural production, tourism, and the hospitality sector.
Programme Director, during the local government elections campaign, we were warmly received by all our communities through our interaction with them across the length and breadth of the province.

The message was clear and simple; that the ANC government has delivered much needed services to all our people, however much still needs to be done. The public applauds the services government provides them but they yearn for an improvement and accelerated delivery of services.
I implore all of you to work together with members of the public towards building a more prosperous and cohesive communities. Let the ordinary citizens of the Northern Cape Province be the real winners who will stand to benefit by identifying service delivery gaps within your respective areas. I am sure that you will agree with me that the hallmark of a caring leader is the extent to which he/she places the interest of the people first.

Councillors must promote a cordial and effective communications between them and the communities they represent. We must also allow for effective public participation to ensure regular and proper feedback because most of the problems occurred as result of lack of communication.

In fostering the dignity of the people within your respective municipalities, you have no option but to:
• Mobilise communities to be part of and support municipal programmes
• Reigniting our people’s passion in and for themselves, by for example, delegating certain responsibilities to them;
• Uproot the scourge of corruption which blatantly and cruelly robs the poor of that which is legitimately theirs; and;
• Begin work in earnest to address the many difficulties faced by communities

Ladies and gentlemen, this government adopted a Local Government Turn-Around Strategy in 2009. Its primary aim is to restore the confidence of the majority of our people in our municipalities and re-build and improve the basic requirements for a functional, responsive, effective, efficient and accountable developmental local government. It is therefore expected of all of us to drive this programme to ensure its successful implementation.

The”Operation Clean Audit 2014” campaign must be further intensified to promote unqualified audits by 2014. Ladies and Gentlemen, through Operation Clean Audit we must ensure that by 2014, all 32 municipalities in our province achieve clean audits on their Annual Financial Statements. To this end, we will be working closely with municipalities in ensuring that we strengthen and instil good financial management on a Province-wide basis
We are sincere in our commitment that no excuses will be tolerated in this regard.

We will further strengthen our relationship with the Auditor General and continue collaborating with regards to the support and monitoring of municipalities to improve on their audit outcomes.

It is incumbent upon us to vigorously pursue this campaign to ensure that we have a responsive, caring and people driven developmental municipalities. This vision is fundamentally about people-centred-local government and the need to make our municipalities administratively and professionally sound so that we can improve the lives of all our people.

Programme Director, this Provincial Government has invested in programmes, projects and campaigns that seek to achieve just that. This province espouses the vision of Operation Nala and we have reaffirmed our commitment to put the interests of the people of the Northern Cape first by ensuring growth, development and improved service delivery in the Province. This programme also seeks to ensure:
• refuse removal at illegal dumping sites in township
• keep the streets clean
• maintaining street lightning
• maintenance of township cemeteries
• fixing blocked drains in townships
• fixing of potholes and paving of streets
• clearing of open veld spaces etc.

Indeed many of the difficulties we encounter will require maximum unity and cooperation between and among us as deployees or representatives of the various political parties. Unity of purpose and intent, Ladies and Gentlemen, will allow us to employ our collective wisdom in navigating our municipalities through stormy waters for the benefit of our people. we must not allow our personal differences to obstruct the advances we have made us a province and nation.

Let us continue to make local government everyone’s business.
I thank you.

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