Service delivery, economy to dominate Lekgotla

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pretoria - Service delivery protests that ravaged the country late last year are among the issues expected to take centre stage at the Cabinet Lekgotla underway in Pretoria.

Several mayors were asked to vacate their positions since last year as growing service delivery mass actions, which sometimes turned violent, threatened to render the communities ungovernable.

"In the face of the protests we have seen, Lekgotla will be looking at ways on how we can strengthen local governments," government spokesperson Themba Maseko said ahead of the three-day meeting.

The Lekgotla brings together all the ministers, their deputies, premiers and top government officials, who use the forum to evaluate and consolidate government's programme of action. Maseko said the theme will focus on ways to improve the performance of government.

During the Lekgotla, the economic cluster will table its report on the country's economic performance in light of the growing unemployment and the aftermath of the recession.

Maseko said sources of funding for struggling power utility Eskom may be discussed but a decision may not be made at the Lekgotla. Eskom has applied to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) for a 35 percent tariff hike each year for the next three years. The issue has elicited a public outcry from both business and civil society organisations.

"It's an issue that is concerning most people and is likely to be discussed but Lekgotla may not make a decision in this effect," said Maseko.

The outcomes of the meeting, chaired by President Jacob Zuma, are expected to be underlined during the State of the Nation Address and the budget speech to be delivered next month.

There will also be concerted efforts to strengthen the country's security ahead of this year's FIFA World Cup and ways to improve the education systems and a focus on health and rural development. Maseko could not confirm whether the National Health Insurance scheme would be part of the discussions.