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SALGA conference speech

MEC Kenny Mmoiemang’s address to SALGA Northern Cape Provincial Conference West End Club: Jimmy Summers Hall, Kimberley

19 JULY 2011

Programme Director;
MECs present here today;
Provincial Executive of SALGA Northern Cape;
Representatives of SALGA National Executive Committee;
Executive Mayors, Mayors, Speakers and Chief Whips;
All Councillors present here today;
Government Officials from all spheres of government;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen

Programme Director, allow me to express my sincere appreciation for the opportunity given to us by this Provincial Conference to share a few perspectives with you.

Therefore your theme, ”Building Municipal and Social Cohesion for Quality and Sustainable Services: 2011 and Beyond”, becomes very relevant to challenges facing local government sector at this juncture.

One of the major initiatives in the South African transformation landscape over the past 17 years was the constitutional recognition of local government as a distinct sphere of government aimed at bringing government closer to the people and serving as a visible platform for accelerating improved accessibility of government services.

Local government is the first contact between the citizen and Government making municipalities' frontline service delivery institutions. Coupled with this is the recognition of interdependencies between the three spheres of government in a quest for improved and coordinate delivery of government services.
It is critical that in the transformation process we build effective intergovernmental systems that would eliminate governance fragmentation, enable coordinated government delivery efforts and encourage integrated development planning in order to achieve maximum impact.

This Provincial Conference takes place against the backdrop of truly exciting times for all of us, in particular for Local Government Leaders like you.

We all know that last year the country celebrated and reflected on significant local government milestones, which are:

1. The President of the country signed performance agreement with all Ministers, and Ministers in turn signed delivery agreements with all MECs;

2. As the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, we signed two delivery agreements with Ministers of COGTA and Human Settlements respectively;

3. On 30 September 2011 we signed Outcome 9 Delivery Agreement with all Executive Mayors and Mayors of the Province, which is intended to build a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system in the country.

Coupled with this is to implement and expand on Operation Clean Audit 2014 by, develop debt collection and revenue enhancement strategy, implement and support municipal budget and reporting regulations, review current supply chain management regulations and develop municipal priority skills strategy;
4. On 5 December 2010, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of democratic local government, and
5. Again in December last year, the country reflected on the 1st Anniversary of the adoption by Cabinet of the Local Government Turn Around Strategy (LGTAS), a document that has become a blueprint through which government as a whole seeks to take the trajectory of Local Government to a new and higher level by 2014 and beyond.

Programme Director, we must ask ourselves as Local Government sector about the key lessons that emanate for the past ten years of democratic local government and the adoption of Local Government Turn Around Strategy.

Local government needs to work even closely with provincial government, civil society, labour, the private sector and indeed the communities on a project basis to give priority attention to the following:

1. Creating an enabling legislative and policy environment for local government to improve service delivery functioning in a highly professional manner. It is from that perspective that the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill has been passed by parliament and subsequently signed by the President;

2. Ensure that critical posts in particular Sections 56 and 57 are filled as a matter of urgency, these include municipal managers, chief financial officers, town engineers, human resource executives and communication executives;

3. Mobilisation and empowerment of communities through amongst others the building of effective ward committee systems such that they can meaningfully participate and contribute to matters related to governance, accountability and their development;
4. Ensure that we strengthen municipal financial management systems such that by 2014 the vision of Clean Audit is realized.

5. Take an active part in addressing skills shortages and vacancies eliminated within municipalities;

6. Work in partnerships to address the huge infrastructure backlogs which are currently negatively affecting service delivery amongst municipalities;

7. Foster partnerships with all the various stakeholders including labour to ensure that our municipalities are better enabled to deliver;

8. Making sure that people, particularly women, become catalysts of our democracy at a local level by informing, educating and mobilising them to take a meaningful part in the affairs of local government.

So this Provincial Conference affords the new SALGA-Northern Cape Leadership an opportunity to map the way-forward for the next 5 years, and also for the outgoing leadership to reflect on progress made in relation to programmes adopted for implementation during the last term of local government, but equally to account to members on the mandate given in 2006 to represent the interest of local government.

Programme director, It is our hope as the provincial government that you will emerge from this Provincial Conference more determined in your endeavours to make local government work better. Our presence here as provincial government reaffirms our commitment and belief that indeed local government is everybody’s business.

In the context of co-operative governance, working with SALGA-Northern Cape we can shoulder the responsibility to make local government an embodiment of developmental aspirations of our local communities.

As you gather here for the next two days, you must also remember that some of our people still live in households which are not electrified, which are still without clean drinkable water, which are without sanitation and which cannot access services for refuse removal.

A number of these people are unemployed and have been reduced into recipients of social grants. That is why we must always have as our lodestar the acceleration of our efforts to create work and further strengthen the fight against poverty.

We want to take this opportunity to bring to the attention of your member municipalities some of the pertinent issues confronting local government in this current period. We place these issues before this Provincial Conference so as to contribute in shaping the debates to take place over the next two days, and equally make sure that our responses to those issues shape a programmatic approach for the 2011–2016 term of local government.

We also raise these issues mindful of the fact that your role as Local Government Leadership will be very critical in defining the success of this term of local government. As SALGA it is also important that in the interest of your member municipalities, including Councillors to engage with aggrieved communities.

In cases where communities raise genuine concerns and frustration about the pace of service delivery, we must move swiftly to address that.

We call upon SALGA-Northern Cape to speak against Councillors who may be neglecting their responsibility towards their communities. As SALGA you are expected to make sure that you monitor the extent to which municipalities through their Councillors are always at the service of their local communities.

We also wish to commit ourselves as the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs to work very closely SALGA Northern Cape in making sure that municipalities are supported in all attempts to accelerate the pace of service delivery to communities.

Programme director, the Local Government Turn Around Strategy affords us an opportunity to turn things around in our municipalities. Important amongst those is the restoration of credibility and integrity of local municipalities as important drivers of provision of services to communities.

This turn-around strategy is informed by a number of challenges faced by municipalities. These challenges range from institutional inefficiencies, low financial or revenue base and poor financial management, poor relations between administrative and political arms of municipalities, lack of skilled technical personnel to drive service delivery and low levels of good governance practices and public participation.

Our intervention through the LGTAS seeks to respond to all those challenges and problems but equally strengthen those areas where we have seen elements of good practices. This will assist us in making sure that we learn valuable lessons and we do not repeat the mistakes committed in the past when undertaking similar strategies to support municipalities.

One of the important questions this Provincial Conference must deal with is how we rethink our approach in supporting municipalities. With the kinds of intervention that we undertook in the past, some did not yield positive results and therefore collective we ask the difficult question of what we can do differently in our approach this time to turn things around.

I therefore wish to take this opportunity to challenge this Provincial Conference to consider carefully its role and approach in working with the provincial government and other stakeholders in making sure that the implementation of the LGTAS becomes a success.

Our approach to the success of the implementation of the LGTAS is the growing appreciation that the success of a local developmental state does not lie in controlling implementation from the centre but in creating coherent and accountable local institutions with clear and coherent understanding of the their developmental responsibilities.

We therefore wish to reaffirm our belief that solutions to problems experienced by municipalities that make it difficult to accelerate service delivery lies with municipalities themselves, through assistance of other spheres of government. We must find local solutions to our local problems working in collaboration with other spheres of government and other stakeholders.

The success of the LGTAS project lies with all of us collectively taking ownership as partners in local government and equally taking our full responsibility to make this strategy a success.

This also speaks to one of the issues as SALGA you must continue to work hard to improve, strengthening your working relations with the provincial government and public institutions and private partners to mobilise the necessary resources to support municipalities.

The other issue I wish to place before the Provincial Conference is a need to begin to rethink about your approach and role as SALGA in the intergovernmental relations structures in the province. Key to the success of the implementation of the LGTAS is a very strong and viable institutional framework on IGR.

It is my submission to this Provincial Conference that as SALGA Northern Cape you must make use of your presence in the IGR structures in the province to represent the interests of local government.

As we continue to strive for between intergovernmental relations, we must ensure that we define the most strategic issues that must always inform the basis of our participation in the IGR structures for the benefit of local government.

In the context of cooperative governance together with you, we can be able to place Northern Cape at a better place in meeting its developmental challenges. This starts with all of us appreciating the need to work together in improving the lives of our local communities.

Programme director, we also need to combat corruption within our system of local government. Corruption is a cancer that eats the social, political and economic fabric of development and requires the involvement of every citizen to combat it.

The major forms of corruption include abuse of office, fraud and embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds and assets, paying for goods and services not delivered, bribery and extortion, nepotism and favouritism.

We must fight corruption at all levels of government. The involvement of development partners, private sector, civil society organisations and the citizenry is very critical in the fight against corruption.

SALGA must ensure that member municipalities put in place the legal and institutional framework to combat corruption. We wish to propose that the following measures be taken by all municipalities to fight corruption:

1. We must make sure that our Councils are functional, and all Council committees exercise their political over-sight properly over municipal administrations;

2. Bottom–up participatory planning and budgeting;

3. We must building consensus on resource allocation based on agreed priorities by stakeholders;

4. Allocation of funds to sectors according to priorities and percentages approved by council;

5. Multi-sectoral monitoring of projects and programmes by both political leaders and the technical staff;

6. Involvement of private sector and civil society in service delivery;

7. Timely production and submission of activity and financial reports to the Council Finance Committee, Provincial Treasury, Auditor general, etc;

8. Launching and commissioning of projects in public;

9. Public notices on resource allocation, projects to be implemented, their locations and costs;

10. Information dissemination on projects using print and electronic media; and

11. Public suggestion box.

In conclusion, I wish to take this opportunity to wish you success in your conference and hope that discussions will assist in making sure that as we prepare to finish the current term of local government, but equally we begin to think about the kinds of issues we must begin to do differently in the next coming 5 years, informed by our strategic perspective to make local government work better.

I have no doubt that if you deliberate more meaningfully on all these matters over the next two days of this Provincial Conference and come with concrete resolutions, SALGA would not only have lived up to its vision as the voice and sole representative of local government, but you will be contributing even more meaningfully to our shared and common vision of a better life for all in the next coming decade of democratic Local Government.

Let us strive together to build better communities. Local Government is Everybody’s Business, Be Part of It!!!

I thank you.


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