Chance to have a say and move SA forward

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do you have a burning question you have been yearning to ask our political leadership but could not find the opportunity? Well, it is that time again when they will meet communities for just such a reason. During the National Imbizo Focus Week which began yesterday, political principals are interacting directly with the people in all nine provinces.

Communities around the country can until 20 July engage officials on issues that affect them and provide input on how best to deal with them.

This is in line with our representative and consultative democracy which encourages citizens to have a say in the way in which the country is governed and local municipalities are managed. It is therefore important that all South Africans exercise their democratic right and attend Izimbizo in their respective communities and raise issues. While it is critical that residents participate and have meaningful dialogue with their democratically elected leaders during this period, they should also attend community meetings organised at local level by their municipalities.

President Jacob Zuma has mandated public representatives to undertake regular visits to communities. His vision is for public representatives to know “where people live, understand their needs, and respond faster”. Public officials take the President’s call seriously and residents should use these meetings to get feedback on the government’s programme of action and work with officials to ensure that services are delivered as promised. The Izimbizo are in line with our Constitution that encourages government, particularly elected representatives to conduct public participation programmes.

This Imbizo programme closely follows the President’s State of the Nation Address were he outlined his vision for the country and measures to address challenges in municipalities. Government representatives will expand on this and update communities on the implementation plans of the new administration that are guided by the National Development Plan.

The theme for the focus week is “Together we move South Africa forward” and takes place against the backdrop of South Africa celebrating 20 Years of Freedom. There have been substantial social and economic advances particularly in education, health, the fight against crime, rural development and job creation. However, despite these achievements, apartheid ills still linger and we must do more to eradicate its economic and social legacy.

The triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment must be defeated if we are to move forward. We are confident that our massive infrastructure roll-out programme will help transform the landscape of our country and grow the economy, leading to the creation of jobs.

This Imbizo Focus Week also coincides with the commemoration of the Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July which us and the world an opportunity to honour the ethos of our fallen leader. The overarching objective of the day is to inspire individuals to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. It also seeks to empower communities to “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”

President Zuma has called on us all to devote 67 minutes of our time to assist in community work on Mandela Day. This year's theme is on cleaning up South Africa and government appeals to all citizens to work together with government and clean our cities, towns, townships, villages, schools and to beautify every part of our country.

As we commemorate this day and play our part in cleaning the country, we should also commit to taking care of the environment. Through our actions we will contribute to attractive and conducive environments in which to work and live in, and coexist with one another. This will ultimately go a long way to improving our health, wellbeing and quality of life. We have a duty to instil this culture in the hearts and minds of future generations.   

Madiba’s legacy of encouraging public involvement in how the country is governed also continues to live on through our actions during the Imbizo Focus Week. Through our participation we all play a crucial role in moving South Africa forward, and ensuring that services reach those they are meant to, especially persons living in rural areas, the poor, women and children. Let us all use this Imbizo period to honour Madiba’s legacy and entrench its longevity in everything we do.

Phumla Williams is Acting CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)


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