Develop all municipalities to avoid metro population influx: Dlamini Zuma

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Developed metros and urbanised municipalities will continue to chase “moving targets” if undeveloped councils do not receive much-needed economic and infrastructure injection, says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The Minister made the remarks while delivering an opening address at the two-day 2022 Local Government Summit on Tuesday at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg.

The summit is government’s effort to strengthen capacity for an ethical and developmental State. Delegates – including senior government leaders across all spheres of government, as well as legislatures – are expected to deliberate on resilient, sustainable, coherent, cohesive, integrated, non-sexist, vibrant and climate-smart communities.

The Minister said it is critical for government to ensure that there is development in every municipality.

“If the other districts are not developed – they don't have a vibrant economy – the metros will always be chasing a moving target not only because of the natural growth of the population, but because people are leaving their areas, not out of choice but out of desperation.”

The Minister said it is critical for government to ensure that there is development in every municipality.

"The migration that we are seeing… metros don't know what to plan for. They don’t know who will be there in January. Let's have a balanced look development," she said.

Dlamini Zuma said every district of the country has its own endowment that must be taken advantage of for prosperity.

Long-term plans 

Dlamini Zuma called on the country’s council to have long-term plans - preferably 25 years.

If councils only plan for the now, she says they are constrained by what was happening at the time.

"You must break away from the immediate constraint, and [plan for the future]. 

"If you are just fighting fires, it's very important to have a long-term plan. The plans allow everyone to focus) whether there is a coalition government or not," she said. 

Good governance

The Minister said while all municipalities should aspire for clean audits, these should not be at the expense of providing quality service delivery.

“There is a disjuncture in this regard. We want both. There must be a clean audit, but we want service delivery. Some of the [municipalities] cheat. They don't put the poor human settlements in their plans,” she said.

To achieve this, the Minister said there must be a “capable State,” where government builds the capacity of the institutions of municipalities.

“We must strengthen the culture of accountability,” she said.

SALGA President, Bheke Stofile, said the summit is an opportune time to reaffirm the commitment and vision of the 1998 White Paper on the development of local government.

He said this will come from a sound partnership with citizens at large in order to find sustainable ways to meet “social economy and material needs”.

He urged newly elected local government leaders to rise to the challenge of changing the narrative on the image and reputation of local government, saying they should be “decisive in consequences and accountability management”.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said there is a wide gap between the democratic aspirations of millions of people and the profoundly transformative vision espoused in the country’s Constitution.

This, he said, needs to change.

"When we make an assessment or we review the state and performance of local governments in South Africa, it is correct that we must always start with the question of the performance of local government on basic services."

Municipalities must play a critical role in the decentralisation of the country's economy.

"Municipalities must occupy centre stage in the transformation and growth of [the] economy. It's important that we pay attention to innovation and infrastructure investment,” Makhura said.

Gauteng CoGTA MEC, Lebogang Maile, said the government sphere must develop local economic development if the country is to empower communities. This, he said, would improve lives and institutional stability, and help to build better societies and fight against high unemployment and reduce poverty. – SAnews.gov.za

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