Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Local Government Summit

Speech by Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Hazel Jenkins at the occasion of the Local Government Summit, Kimberley 2009

Programme Director

Members of the Executive Council

Members of the Provincial Legislature

Mayors and Councillors

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Friends and Comrades

We have come together to discuss, debate and arrive at common positions on the way forward for improving Local Government Systems in our country. Today’s discussion gives us the welcome opportunity to collectively assess the progress which is being made in the actual theatre of implementation in the sphere of Local Government, to appreciate the challenges that lie ahead and to equip ourselves so that we may better be able to discharge our responsibilities diligently.

We are all aware that the decision to hold a Local Government Summit was taken after the party’s assessment of service delivery in all municipalities. The key areas that emerged from the assessment as per the observations were that the state of local government needed urgent attention from the national and provincial government and that the ruling party structures at all levels should play an oversight role to ensure that government remains true to the policies of the organisation and its electoral mandate.

During his state of the Nation Address President Jacob Zuma committed Government to focus intensively on the local government sphere during the term of this administration. He said” It is tempting to shout at colleagues in local government and say they are not doing their work”

“But we need to go deeper than that and check what kind of support government provides provincially and nationally to local government, especially in the very rural municipalities with no resources”.

He continued “I intend to have an intensive interaction with local government colleagues to hear first hand from them what the challenges are, so that working together we can look for solutions”.

However, this statement does not under any circumstances absolve any Comrade who have made themselves guilty for behaving in an unacceptable manner.

We have also noted with concern recent violent service delivery protests, in most instances causing damage to public and private property. Although we strongly condemn in the strongest possible terms this violent behaviour that accompanies these protests, we urge our public representatives to proactively engage our communities in finding ways to address their grievances. We must hold regular meetings to keep communities informed about progress and problems that we might encounter in executing our duties.

Most importantly our task as government, specifically the local government sector itself, wants to see change that delivers more efficient and effective services across all remote communities, large and small.

The government’s intention in seeking this fundamental improvement of Local Government is to create certainty and stability through strong local Government Structures.

We were elected into these positions of responsibility to serve our people to the best of our ability and address their plight where they reside.

Programme Director, Municipalities are at the forefront of ensuring that we deliver basic services to the people. They are at the coalface of service delivery. As the major role players at Local Government, our role should help ensure, amongst other, a speedy, efficient implementation of government’s policies and programmes for the betterment of the lives of the poverty stricken and economically marginalised sections of society.

Local Government is at the level that is nearest to our communities and which affects them directly. It is at the level where our local communities experience firsthand provision of services such as portable water, sanitation, electricity and local development infrastructure etc..

Local municipalities should take the lead in changing the quality of lives of the members of their communities. They should at all times strive to give our community members opportunities to actively participate in the economic activities of the Government. The fact that the majority of our people are still poor tells us that we have not as yet made the necessary impact in developing our local economy

We urge our municipalities to form partnerships with all the stakeholders at local level such as your businesspeople, Civil Society Organisations and Churches in surrounding areas and see what kind of support they can provide in a number of areas including skills development and even infrastructure.

Prior to 1994, racially based development systematically excluded the majority of South Africans from meaningful participation in the economy. Racial segregation confined the creation of wealth to a racial minority, and imposed under-development on black communities. Accordingly, the result was a socio-economic structure that, because of lack of both social and economic opportunities, excluded the majority of South Africans

When we attained our liberation in 1994, we were entrusted by the masses of our people with the responsibility to transform our country's policies to address the legacy of the past in all aspect of development.

Progressive legislation and laws were enacted that were truly representative and responsive to the noble values as enshrined in our constitution.

The White Paper on Local Government was also introduced to help transform the sphere of Local government to be responsive to the needs of the communities that they are meant to serve.

The objectives of local government are -

* to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities;
* to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner;
* to promote social and economic development;
* to promote a safe and healthy environment; and
* To encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.

The National Government and Provincial Governments, by Legislative and other measures, must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we might not have accomplish all the objectives that we have set for ourselves, but we still have an opportunity to do all the right things necessary to improve the lives of our people before the forthcoming Local Government Elections.

The ball is in your court. Our communities look upon you to help make services available so that they can enjoy a better life.

I thank you

Baie Dankie

Ke a leboga


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