Government's approach needs to change - Zuma

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pretoria - The recent spate of service delivery protests in South Africa's townships has highlighted an urgent need for a change in the approach of government institutions, says President Jacob Zuma.

Speaking on Thursday after his meeting with premiers from the nine provinces as well as mayors of Metropolitan municipalities, President Zuma said the national government could achieve its goals without the contribution of both the provincial and local government structures. 

The meeting was a first of its kind by a head of government.

"While the reasons for protests differ from place to place, they all point to shortcomings in the way that government relates to people whether at local, provincial or national level," President Zuma said.

He said he had decided to invite Metro mayors to the meeting because of their size and impact they have in their provinces. 

"We are looking at areas that make a major impact on provinces," he said. 

The meeting, the President said, was the first part of an ongoing government programme to link all spheres to enhance service delivery. 

Also in attendance was Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, whom President Zuma applauded for her contributions during the meeting.

President Zuma said: "The issues were of national interest; what is best for the citizens of this county irrespective of one's political affiliation".

He said the mayors and premiers also had an opportunity to comment on the issues being contemplated in the two green papers government is preparing for public discussion. 

The green papers are expected to shed light on how the two ministries, National Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation, both in The Presidency, will carry out their duties.

Minister for National Planning Trevor Manuel said the papers were expected to be made public by no later that 26 August.

President Zuma said all spheres of government in the meeting have committed themselves to work together to address all areas of concerns in governance.

"There has been a frank discussion of the state of local government in the country. While much progress had been made, there were significant areas of deficiency," he said. 

The President said he was encouraged by the deliberations, adding they demonstrated a determination from all spheres to work together to build a better country.

"We have no doubt that if we continue in this spirit, we will be able to effectively close the gaps in intergovernmental coordination that we spoke of in The Presidency budget vote," President Zuma said.