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Local Government ‘key driver of development in communities’ – President Ramaphosa SALGA National Members Assembly underway to reflect on 20 years of Local Government





Posted: 03 December 2020

Local government is the nerve centre of service delivery, including socio-economic development and should assist the country to build a true democracy to ensure a prosperous, non-sexist and non-racial society, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking during the two-day hybrid SALGA National Members Assembly (NMA) in Sandton, Johannesburg, President Ramaphosa said SALGA was “at the forefront of transforming local government to make it fit for purpose and to serve our people and meet their needs”.

The assembly is being attended by delegates from all municipalities, provincial and national government, key stakeholders and international partner organisations, United Cities Local Governments (UCLG), including other sister organisations from the continent. 

The assembly is a constitutional body of South Africa’s municipalities and is held twice in between the SALGA National Conference.  This year’s NMA is being held to reflect on the progress of over the last two decades, 5th December 2020 being 20 years since the first fully democratic local government elections in South Africa.

President Ramaphosa said as the country marks 20 years of democratic local government, several questions need to be answered, this includes: has the local government been effective in overcoming the injustices of the past, and what progress has been made in improving the quality of life for the citizens through the local government structures?

“It is undeniable that over the past 20 years, local government has been a key driver of development in our communities. Our progress has been substantial, and the quality of life for millions of people has been improved.   There are schools, libraries and clinics where there once were none. Communities have sanitation and clean drinking water where they were once forced to fend for themselves. Homes have been electrified and streets have been paved,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said while the provision of services has over 20 years lifted millions of people out of poverty and enabled them to enjoy an improving quality of life, there were contrasting narratives, conceding that the sector is also facing some very serious challenges.

President Ramaphosa cited poor municipal audit outcomes, corruption and nepotism, saying many of the municipalities are facing a crisis of credibility as a result.

Earlier on the day, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addressed the assembly and reminded the delegates that the “Ready to Govern" means women must be at the forefront, and that special attention must be paid to the rural areas.

In her opening address, SALGA President Thembi Nkadimeng said the local government was immensely proud in keeping with the constitution and the spirit of cooperative governance as well as inclusivity.
“This assembly has brought together multiple stakeholders in an open dialogue, under one roof to reflect, reposition and reconnect to their respective roles at not only local, provincial and national government levels, but also broader society, “she said.

She called for delegates to use the assembly as an opportunity for new thinking on how to enhance local democracy by bringing local government closer to the people.
“There is no doubt that our communities are frustrated and angry about the quality and quantity of basic services. This should therefore be a call on all of us to listen to what our people are saying. We must on an ongoing basis check the pulse of our communities to gain a fuller appreciation of the problem,” she said.

The assembly will continue until Friday, 4 December 2020. Day-one was characterized by panel sessions and robust discussions around the journey towards democratic Local Government, interrogating the democratic local government terms and the role of the districts.
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