24-26 March 2015, Gallagher Estate and Convention Centre, Midrand, Gauteng
The proceedings started by Minister COGTA, Pravin Godham, introducîng President Jacobs ZUMA to the house as a leader who stresses the importance of public good and public interest.
The president has set up a National Development Plan and the integrated development planning processes. He endeavored to build democratic structures that have had impact on the improvement of the living conditions of the people.
In his speech to SALGA members, President Zuma extended his warm welcome to special invitees, with an emphasis on the President and Secretary General of UCLG Africa. He confirmed his resolve to consolidate and deepen a vibrant, developmental and people centered local democracy.
South Africa has adopted a democratic constitution, which is a bold declaration aiming at curving the illness of the past apartheid legacy. Significant progress was made in line with the freedom charter in term of achieving the provision of services to communities, with an upward trend reported in more than 70% of South African local governments.
Progress has been witnessed in many areas such as water and sewage services provision, access to energy and to housing. But human costs of apartheid are still with us. We need therefore to identify challenges towards establishing a non-racist and prosperous South Africa. Many South Africans are still waiting for the improvement of their living conditions. Scarce resources did not allow to speed up the delivery system, but we are encouraged by the capacity of local governments to find local solutions. Those preferment municipalities are the ones that are well governed, where councilors observe monthly financial scrutiny, care about clean administration with fraud avoidance and zero tolerance to poor service delivery. Management systems should be improved, with annual audit reports, and skills acquisition for local administration staff. Key to problem solving in local government is the need not to get local staff to recourse too much to consultants. It is important to tighten the use of consultants.
Community should be part of the municipalities’ daily work in order to build trust between people and government. On September 2014 the Government committed to support full functioning municipalities that should service the communities and agreed to go back to the basics.
This means a recommitment to provide basic services in a professional way, put people first through working with communities, making harder efforts to expand poverty alleviation programs through support to local economic development, improving effective public administration which shall not be seen as a privilege in a democratic system but rather a fundamental right of citizen. This is the type of government we should all strive for at all levels of governance. Achieving a prosperous South Africa is a long journey for which cleaver citizen should take responsibilities. People should participate in the building of their own future. We need to anticipate in our development. We need to change the phraseology of service delivery. Rights goes with responsibilities. We need good communication to empower people so that they can provide for themselves.
Local government authorities are godfathers for delivery. But most of the time local Authorities change their behavior once elected and become isolated from the people. This trend shall be combatted among SALGA members.
After the President’s speech, the assembly received support messages by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the Commonwealth Local Government Association (CLGF), the Botswana Local Government Association (BALA), and United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).
In his opening remarks, the Premier of Gauteng Province, Honorable D. Makhura, stressed that the Councilor’s job is a difficult one, because councilors are the ones who take the blame when anything goes wrong at local level, even if the problems stemmed from actions by other spheres of governance. He therefore pledged support to the councilors.
After the opening ceremony, the proceedings continued with a grand debate organized around 15 years of democratic local government in South Africa with as panelists: Mr. V. Moosa, first minister of democratic local Government; Father Smangaliso Mkathswa, former Chairperson of SALGA; Cllr Parks Tau, chairperson, SALGA Gauteng; Hon. L. Tsenoli, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly; Ms. W. Ovens, Local Government Researcher; Dr. M. Ndletyana, MISTRA. The panel was moderated by T. Modise.
The assembly went on with a series of sessions on: Enhancing consequences and accountability in local governments and promoting leadership development in the sector; Launch of the SALGA Centre for leadership and governance; Celebrating and stimulating innovation and good practice in local Government and key issues affecting local Government for consideration in commissions.
Eight Breakaway commissions were later on organized in parallel on the following issues: 1. Enhancing good governance and accountability; 2.Urban development and spatial integration; 3. Sustainable local economies; 4. Future of the electricity distribution industry: 5. Boundary and ward demarcation; 6. Women empowerment and gender equity in local government; 7. Improving financial management, audit outcomes and fiscal policy; 8. Strengthening organized local government.
After the presentations of report back on commissions, the assembly discussed and adopted: (1) the framework for good local governance; (2) the municipal audit support programme of SALGA; (3) funding model for sustainable long-term relevance and impact; (4) SALGA roadmap to 2016.
The assembly was closed with a vote of thanks by Cllr Thabo Manyoni, Chairperson, SALGA.