Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Premier's Address on the occation of the South African Local Government Association


The Chairperson of SALGA: Councillor Willie Johnson; Members of the Executive Council; Councillors and Members of the Assembly; The Deputy CEO of SALGA, Northern Cape: Mr Mathobela; Municipal Managers and Officials; Members of the Media Fraternity; Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen

In my capacity as Premier of this vast and beautiful Province, I make an emotional and long-overdue return to my other home: SALGA Northern Cape.
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It is indeed an emotional return for me in more ways than one: the friendships I have forged with so many of you as both colleagues and comrades; the unwavering support you offered me in my Chairpersonship of SALGA Northern Cape and as Deputy Chairperson of the National Body; the warm words of encouragement many of you extended to me when I was deployed to the position of Premier of the Province; and the stimulating discussions and debates we have had as Organised Local Government at both the SALGA PEC and SALGA NMA levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is also an enormously pleasing moment for me in that the SALGA Provincial Leadership opted for De Aar as a venue for this PMA.

It is rumoured that you had me in mind when the final choice of venue was made – for De Aar is my real home!

I am greatly honoured to address you at this important gathering, the SALGA Northern Cape Provincial Members Assembly which has been convened at a very crucial time both in the history of Province and our country.

This occasion is crucial in that it is taking place at a time when the country is beginning to prepare for the local government elections which are scheduled to take place in early 2011. The upcoming local government election does not provide a comprehensive answer to all the challenges facing us. It does, however, provide us with a window of opportunity to reinvigorate the local sphere of government ranging from good governance to effective service delivery.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are hopeful that on a significant occasion such as this one, the gathering of municipal leaders from across our province will adopt meaningful and practical decisions to improve the lives of the vast majority of our people, especially in the areas of job creation, housing, water provision, refuse removal, electrification and sanitation.

It is indeed in the interest of the people of our Province, our municipalities and of government in general to see SALGA, both provincially and nationally, succeed in achieving its strategic objectives.

A strong SALGA means strong and viable municipalities. Strong municipalities are a catalyst for economic growth, development and sustainable service delivery. SALGA has demonstrated its unwavering commitment towards transforming local government and thereby responding to the call to rid society of poverty and create conditions for development and sustainable growth.

SALGA, as the representative voice of municipalities, can play a vital role to enhance delivery at local government level. It can do so by continuing to transform local government to enable it to fulfil its developmental mandate. This role requires SALGA to provide strong leadership for its member municipalities in the areas of:
  • Administrative and financial stability;
  • Sound financial practices to increase viability;
  • Visible service delivery; and
  • Participatory mechanisms for good governance.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have noted with concern the considerable administrative and political instability at local government level. Our municipalities have been severely weakened by high staff turnovers together with staff who lack proper skills and the requisite expertise.

The problem is compounded and exacerbated by our institutions' inability to retain staff in the key areas of management, finance, engineering and information and communications technology.

In addressing this situation, our municipalities are required to review their recruitment and retention practices to ensure that we deploy the right person for the right job at the right time. In addition to this, we must continuously strengthen the relationship between the administrative and political components of our institutions as a measure to enhance communication and to clarify accountability.

Our constitution compels our municipalities to provide services to communities in a sustainable manner. It is their core business and is the reason for their very existence. So when we notice a lack in the delivery of basic services in some of our municipalities, we get concerned, and rightly so, for it is our moral and political responsibility to ensure that we execute our electoral mandate in the best possible manner and to the satisfaction of the communities we serve.

On this note, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is quite worrisome and which is also a concern shared by many of us in that whenever we approach local government elections, community protests in the name of service delivery becomes a regular occurrence. We do acknowledge that people have genuine and legitimate grievances which must be attended to in the most expeditious manner possible. It has also, however, come to our knowledge and of the country’s law enforcement agencies that there are some within our midst who are keen on negating the democratic gains we have made by promoting their own selfish interests by playing the role of agent provocateurs in stirring up the emotions of communities so that they can hold office in municipal councils. To them I, or rather we, can collectively say with confidence: “You will not succeed with your selfish motives”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there exists a plethora of legislative prescripts and policies on service delivery matters. Over the years and with due respect, we have workshopped, debated and discussed many position and concept papers by way of commissions at conferences and seminars, and as a consequence thereof, we emerged with implementable strategies for example around IDP’s, the role of CDW’s, the compilation of indigent registers, anti-corruption measures, etc. Therefore, in President Jacob Zuma’s words, the age we have entered is a time for action. And act we must for the time for talk and more talk together with the accompanying rhetoric and clichés are over.

Another important measure of democratic governance is the ability to strengthen systems of public participation, transparency, integrity and accountability for service delivery outcomes. We need to enhance public participation and consultation to foster communities’ ownership of their own development and empowerment. Experience has shown that community participation, which is commonly defined as an open, accountable process through which individuals and groups within selected communities can exchange views and influence decision-making, is an essential part of effective and accountable governance at local level.

Thus effective public participation will, to a large extent, minimise the service delivery protests and grassroots discontent around governance and service delivery issues between the local municipalities and communities. Public participation is widely recognised as both a necessary and strategic prerequisite for good governance at local level. Realising this, government has introduced a number of instruments to facilitate the participation of citizens in the running of their municipalities and in the improvement of their own conditions. One such instrument is the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).

It is apparent that certain institutions that we have established for the purpose of consultation and coordination of government programmes continue to be lame ducks. Among others, one would refer to ward committees, community development workers and community policing forums. These institutions are not operating as expected.

Therefore, we have to find better ways of making them effective because they are important and necessary institutions to advance the ideals of democratic governance and accountability. I am hopeful that this will be addressed by SALGA, both at the Provincial and National level.

Ladies and gentlemen, collectively, we have little or no choice but to create a lasting legacy for our future generations – a legacy that is built on a common desire to work together.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Auditor General’s report has identified a lack of control mechanisms, mismanagement and a lack of governance principles as the key reasons for the state of despair in many municipalities in the Northern Cape. He also pointed out a number of weaknesses and deficiencies in the area of operations in our municipalities and also, those areas that we need to strengthen and improve the viability of our municipalities. However, the report also highlighted many good practices and examples of successful municipalities. It also acknowledged the many hardworking and dedicated municipal councillors and officials that continue to serve their communities well with humility and steadfast dedication. Congratulations and may you continue with the good work!

We have committed ourselves to take appropriate action on items identified and recommended by the Auditor General to strengthen the capacity of our municipalities. We are therefore duty bound not to fail in this regard as we expect better and improved results for the next financial year.

The National Cabinet has also approved the Local Government Turnaround Strategy towards the end of 2009 which is designed to strengthen and improve the capacity of our municipalities to render effective service delivery. This Turnaround Strategy recognises the current profiles of municipalities and the state of service delivery. The aim is therefore to implement a comprehensive programme of action to reach the objective of ensuring that municipalities can meet the basic service needs of our communities.

This objective requires supporting interventions in performance and professionalism, process efficiencies, and clean government. It will also require that partnerships between local government, communities and civil society are consolidated.

We are truly convinced that all municipalities will rigorously reflect on their own performance and identify and develop their own tailor-made turnaround strategies focussed on achieving the following:

1. Stable councils with visionary and non-partisan leadership.
2. Undertake an appropriate set of powers and functions and identify and establish relevant agency arrangements with national and provincial government within the current legislative and policy framework.
3. Professional administration that supports the political vision contained in the electoral mandate.
4. Properly constituted corporate services, technical services and financial management functions including recruitment and skills retention policies ensuring that we appoint the “right people for the right job”.
5. Provision of basic services and ensuring every cent spent is well considered and accounted for.
6. Optimised revenue collection and improved billing, customer care, indigent and credit control policies.
7. Work towards sustaining clean audit outcomes by 2014. Those that can achieve the target earlier must do so.
8. Improved public participation and communication including effective complaint management and feedback systems.

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, all of you may now be surely aware that the Uruguay National Football Team has opted for Kimberley as its Base Camp for the FIFA World Cup. In addition the Local Organising Committee, with the blessing of the FIFA Leadership, has chosen Kimberley as the venue for the 50 Day Countdown Event to be held on 21 April 2010.

As leaders of our respective committees, I humbly urge each and every one of you to welcome our Uruguayan visitors with our special brand of Northern Cape hospitality and make them feel safe and secure wherever they go.

I also once again caution our hospitality and tourism industry not to charge exorbitant rates, but to realise reasonable profit margins that has to be mutually beneficial.

Our visitors must leave with an indelible positive impression of our beautiful Province and its people, so that many of them return or spread the message that we are a warm, caring and peace loving nation.

I thank you.

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