Making local government work

President Cyril Ramaphosa says councillors and local governments must address service deliv­ery with urgency and to turn local government around.

The President made the remarks at the opening session of the sixth national conference of the South African Local Government Association recently.

The conference is one of the biggest gatherings of all three spheres of govern­ment, civil society, business and other stakeholders in the country – bringing together officials from some 257 municipalities across the country.

“Local government is where you can make the biggest difference in the lives of our people," he said.

The President added that local government is the most important enabler of economic growth and development.

“I have no doubt that each one of us understands the urgency of this moment. Let us turn adversity into opportunity. Let us turn local government around,” President Ramaphosa said.

He added that “commen­dable progress” has been made through the provi­sion of water, sanitation and other basic services to communities, saying that improvement requires a concerted effort from each municipality and its leadership.

Municipal challenges

The President painted a picture of the challen­ges municipalities are facing while attempting to provide services to the communities they serve.

According to the Presi­dent:

  • A government report shows that only 5% of the country’s municipali­ties are financially stable;
  • Other municipalities are in financial distress, with insufficient revenue to meet their expenses;
  • Some 64 municipalities are considered to be dysfunctional;
  • At least 31 municipali­ties are currently under administration.

“This dysfunction is rooted in poor governance, weak institutional capacity, poor financial manage­ment, corruption and political instability. Many residents have lost faith in the ability of local govern­ment to meet their needs.”

He called on government leaders to correct failures and guide municipalities towards sustainability, efficiency and clean gover­nance.

District Development Model

President Ramaphosa reiterated government’s commitment to imple­menting the District Development Model (DDM), which is aimed at improving coordination between the three spheres of government and its social partners.

 He said the DDM is helping to grow local economies, create jobs and deliver services better and faster.

“Through this model, we aim to energise our entire system of cooperative governance, and bring coherence to planning and implementation.”

The President explained that as part of the DDM, the Department of Coo­perative Governance is drawing profiles for each district and metro, which highlight the “challenges and opportunities” in those communities.

These profiles will provide the basis for the ‘One Plan’ of the metro or district, which is an inter­governmental plan.

“Through these One Plans, we are forging innovative partnerships with communities, busines­ses and other stakeholders to improve and accelerate implementation of key development projects.

“We are looking to the DDM to help put South Africa on a new path of socio-economic and transformation,” he said. SAnews.gov.za