The new Minister at the helm of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan, says the new administration will be in regular contact with the public, while holding local government accountable.
Minister Gordhan said his department will oversee that the organised local government remains in contact with the people, listens to what they say and has a sense of urgency, accountability and responsiveness among officials of municipalities.
“We don’t want people walking away with the impression that there’s negligence in this particular area. In some parts it works very well… councillors are on the ground, they have meetings and they allow for the information to be communicated.
“The first thing we need to do is the support mechanism that we need to get off the ground. Where the law is being defied either in government terms, financial terms or delivery terms, then the appropriate action is required,” said Minister Gordhan on Thursday.
He was addressing the media, in Johannesburg, after the first sitting of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) National Executive Committee, since the 2014 General Elections.
Reduce cost of living for SA
He said his department will support municipalities and build their capabilities to enable them to deliver. He also outlined one of the objectives within the National Development Plan to reduce the cost of living for South Africans.
“A very high percentage of our people’s disposable incomes are spent on transport and a very large disposable time is spent on travelling to and from work. Over the next five to ten years, restructuring our environment both city, towns and villages is going to be a key area that we look into,” Minister Gordhan added.
“The biggest challenge in South Africa is not related to any failure but how do we densify our cities, how do we avoid urban sprawl and how do we lower the cost of living for working South Africans,” said Minister Gordhan.
He said his department is looking at working with the Department of Environmental Affairs in getting better waste management to create energy out of it and create more jobs.
Improving people’s lives
Minister Gordhan added that there was a clear indication that there’s a relationship between political stability and administrative stability and delivery to people.
“We need to collaborate with organised local government to ensure that there’s stability, and that ordinary people’s lives are improved on a systematic basis.
“This is about ensuring that the rights of ordinary South Africans that are in the bill of rights are enjoyed by all, whether it is access to water, housing or safe environment. None of these are going to be achieved overnight because we are still a young democracy,” said Minister Gordhan.
In his State of The Nation Address (SONA) last month, President Jacob Zuma said government heard the complaints and proposals of citizens over the past five years, relating to the performance of municipalities.
President Zuma shared government’s action plan to revitalise local government.
“We have evaluated all our municipalities. We have inspected their financial management, how they work within legislative processes as well as their ability to roll out projects and to address capacity constraints.
“We have also looked at how they respond to service delivery protests. There have been many successes in many municipalities. However we face a number of challenges in others,” he said.
Minister Gordhan hoped that such interventions will lower service delivery protests and speed up service delivery.
Source : SAnews.gov.za