President Jacob Zuma says great strides have been made in delivering basic services to South African communities in the past 14 years since the inception of a democratic local government.
He said the current administration will continue to work hard to achieve radical and meaningful change in the performance of local government.
President Zuma was speaking on Thursday during the second Presidential Local Government Summit (PLGS) held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg.
“Out of this Summit must emerge a focused action plan, to strengthen local government by getting the basics right,” said President Zuma.
President Zuma said the local government, together with other spheres of government, must provide basic services efficiently and effectively, and in a caring manner.
He said South Africa’s constitution enshrines socio-economic rights, including the rights to dignity, water, sanitation and housing, amongst other basic needs.
Progress in basic service delivery
President Zuma said there has been progress in basic service delivery in various municipalities, and that the recent report on the non-financial census of municipalities confirmed that the services rendered by municipalities have reduced poverty.
“The report focuses on basic services, namely: water services, electricity services, sewerage and sanitation services, and solid waste management services offered by the 278 municipalities across the country,” President Zuma said.
He said the report showed that 11.8 million basic water services are provided to households, with 5.3 million receiving free basic services. Of the 11.8 million who receive basic water services, 2.5 million benefitted from indigent support.
Indigent households are those that qualify for rebates or services subsidies.
President Zuma said the report also showed that 10 million consumer units were receiving sewerage and sanitation from municipalities in South Africa, and 31.1% of the consumer units had access to free basic sewerage and sanitation.
“These are just a few examples of positive developments mentioned in the report,” President Zuma said.
He commended municipal leaders who have made a difference in changing peoples’ lives and living conditions, as demonstrated in the report.
The first PLGS was held at Khayelitsha in Cape Town in 2009, where the President encouraged the three spheres of government, from the Presidency to every municipality in the land, to work together.
President Zuma said the 2014 summit showed that all municipalities agree that the basic services and people’s needs must be met.
Going back to basics
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan said the summit aimed to highlight successful achievements by municipalities and come with solutions for issues that needed intervention.
Minister Gordhan said too many municipalities fail to do the basics for their communities, and that the summit was all about going back to basics, serving communities better.
The Minister urged municipalities to only hire engineers and other technicians who will construct the best infrastructure developments that will last more than 20 years.
Minister Gordhan added that municipalities should maintain infrastructure properly and timeously to enable state properties to last longer.
He said although a third of municipalities across all provinces were not doing well, two-thirds municipalities were doing fairly well in delivering good services to communities.
“It is our collective responsibility to root out corruption in our municipalities and communities,” said Minister Gordhan.
“Our motto should be: No service failures,” Minister Gordhan added.
The summit was attended by, amongst other delegates, all Mayors, Speakers, Chief Whips, Municipal Managers and Chief Financial Officers from 278 municipalities of South Africa.
Steve Tshwete Local Municipality Mayor Mike Masina shared a success story of how the local municipality managed to be amongst the ones that performed well.
Masina said the municipality had developed a clear communication strategy to keep residents informed about its plans and challenges.
“We have a good working relationship with local print and electronic media. I have a column in one of the local newspapers, where I inform the community about our plans, on a weekly basis,” said Masina.
He added that the municipality also had a radio slot where executives speak about programmes and challenges of the municipality, and receive feedback from residents.
He said the municipality also had an SMS line it used to inform residents about any urgent announcements, including power and water outages.
Masina said the municipality also held regular mayoral meetings where each department under it reported on successes and challenges they experienced.
“… So that we can easily identify issues that need intervention,” said Masina.
Over and above, the municipality also convenes mayoral outreach meetings to hear the concerns of residents, and attempted to address them in a week, where possible.
Source : SAnews.gov.za