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The Month Ahead | March 2021





Posted: 02 March 2021

As the sphere of government closest to the people, local government is positioned at the forefront of the protection and promotion of human rights.

Human rights issues affect people’s everyday lives and local governments are tasked with the responsibility to provide public services that have a direct and immediate effect on the quality of people’s lives. 

Public services such as water, sanitation, electricity, housing and roads are local needs and priorities that are related to the realisation of human rights in society.

The constitutionally entrenched objects of local government are to: (a) to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities; (b) to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner; (c) to promote social and economic development; (d) to promote a safe and healthy environment; and (e) to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.

In his keynote address to the SALGA 2020 National Members Assembly (NMA), President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “Local government is the nerve centre of service delivery, of socio-economic development and of driving our efforts to build a truly democratic, integrated, prosperous, non-sexist and non-racial society.”
This means that as the direct representatives of the communities they serve, local governments play a vital role in entrenching a wide-range of socio-economic rights that enable people to live a life consistent with human dignity, and SALGA will reflect on the progress that has been made towards the realization of these rights over the last twenty-six years, and to identify what still needs to be done to protect and further develop them.

It is against this background that the local government sector will join hands with the national and provincial spheres of government, public entities, civil society bodies and ordinary citizens across the length and breadth of South Africa in the commemoration of Human Rights Month under the theme: “The year of unity, socio-economic renewal and nation-building.”

The democratic government declared 21 March Human Rights Day to commemorate and honour those who fought for our liberation and the rights we enjoy today.

March 8, International Women’s Day, also provides the local government fraternity with an opportunity to measure its ideals against reality. The sector will use the occasion to take stock of the progress and remaining barriers to improving women’s participation in this level of government.

Research from The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women took data from 133 countries showing that women constitute 2.18 million (36 per cent) of elected members in local deliberative bodies. Only two countries have reached 50 per cent, and an additional 18 countries have more than 40 per cent women in local government

As a national representative body for South Africa’s 257 municipalities, SALGA remains committed to advocating for the inclusion and effective participation of women at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. 

There is a lot happening at SALGA this month and here is a run-down of the highlights:

  • The SALGA Women’s Commission Lekgotla takes place on March 8. The Lekgotla coincides with International Women’s Day, a day which focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • An Asset Management and Regional Economic Development Webinar Series 4: Woman Tackling Climate Change, takes place on March 11. 
  • The 3rd Seminar on Product Quality and Technology and Innovation in Water Supply will be taking place from March 18-19. 
  • The Gauteng provincial chapter of SALGA will be hosting a virtual Informal Economy Dialogue Roundtable discussion on approaches to best support SMMEs and the informal economy amid the impact of COVID-19.

This in addition to a Job Evaluation Symposium from March 11-12, a Trade Investment Seminar on March 12, a Skills Indaba from March 18-19 and a Local Government Sector Summit from March 29-31. 

  • A virtual Municipal Health Services and Disaster Management Summit will be convened on March 26.
  • SALGA President Thembi Nkadimeng will share local government perspectives on the importance of women in science and research at the Water Research Commission Conference on March 18.
  • South African and Japanese municipalities will share their approaches to water quality management and Technology and Innovation in the management of water at the SALGA – Japan Water Works Association seminar on Technology and Innovation from March 18-19.
  • SALGA will host (1) a Technology Innovation Forum to discuss technology and innovative solutions in enhancing service delivery and shaping the research agenda, and (2) a Scientific Services Forum to unpack the measures of improving drinking water and effluent discharge quality in the sector on March 25 and 26 respectively.
  • On March 22, SALGA will participate in the handing over of the constructed non-revenue water simulation facility from the Japanese (JICA) to the South African Ministry of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation.

Other commemorative events during the month of March

  • Commonwealth Day will be celebrated on March 8 this year. People in Commonwealth countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe will observe the occasion.

Faith and civic gatherings, debates, school assemblies, flag raising ceremonies, street parties and fashion shows are just some of the events they will use to celebrate the vast diversity, strong unity and uplifting values that define the Commonwealth.

  • World Water Day takes place each and every year on March 22nd and aims to underline the importance of water. While this may sound simple – and, in many people’s eyes, a bit daft – the lack of clean water around the world, alongside the damaging effects of global warming, water pollution and damaged water tables, is more important to understand than ever.

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