SA's local government is quite stable

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pretoria - South Africa's local government is quite stable and has achieved more in terms of accelerating service delivery in the country, says South African Local Government Association (SALGA) boss Xolile George.

"All of us know that there is a quite a number of achievements. Local government is quite stable in our system of government; local government is implementing capital investment projects in terms of ensuring access to service for citizens.

"Citizens have so far been able to get services such as water, electricity and housing," George told SAnews on Thursday at the launch of a Public Sector Research Centre report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) - "Making it Happen - A roadmap for South African municipalities to achieve desired outcomes".

He singled out the City of Johannesburg for having done phenomenal transformation in terms of rolling-out ground breaking initiatives such as the BRT system, improving the urban form of townships.

According to George, 90 percent of the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was largely because of the central role played by cities.

However, he said there were areas where one could see that the wait of expectation was overwhelming for a number of municipalities because citizen's expectations were too high.

The report covered local, district and metropolitan municipalities across all of South Africa's nine provinces.

George said after conducting the research for the report, PwC has a clear sense of how to translate strategy into implementable programmes and measurable outcomes.

"As local government, no doubt we are executing a very difficult task of ensuring that we live up to the expectation of citizens at the same time implement initiatives in terms of appreciating the limited resources we have at our disposal to execute our mandate, again, making sure that we are able to impact positively on the lives of our citizens.

"Consistent with our mandate as Salga, is to gradually build the system of local government to be resilient at the same time execute its mandate innovatively.

George said while certain municipalities were able to rise above all odds, others were struggling because of poor leadership.

The Department for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs embarked on countrywide road shows recently to engage provincial departments responsible for local government and traditional affairs to assess progress of the Local Government Turn-Around Strategy (LGTAS) in 108 identified priority municipalities.

The purpose of the visits was to refine the provincial action plans of each municipality and come up with interventions to address their challenges regarding the five LGTAS priorities which are the:

* Acceleration of Service Delivery;
* Enhancement of good governance;
* Promotion of sound financial management;
* Fighting corruption; and
* Facilitation of sustainable infrastructure.

Global cities and local government network leader, Hazem Galal said PwC would assist local government to create sustainable metropolitans, districts and local municipalities.

"Our engagement style is based on a strategy partnership in which we work with local government and its stakeholders to co-design, co-implement and sustain new ways of working to ensure that local government entities deliver on their core mandates.

"We assist local government to develop leaders to truly lead, deliver and manage within the local government context, building capacity and managing talent to attract, develop and retain their right people, assess to determine limitations and internal shortcomings that prevent optimal service delivery and designing transformation programmes to improve service delivery," he said.

Galal said they also advise local government on sustainable cost management. "With this report, now is the time for local government leadership teams to take stock of ensuring that effective systems are in place to help, rather than hinder the implementation of their strategies," he said.

However, George said SALGA will engage PwC first on the implementation module of the outcomes of the report to ensure that there is coherency in what they want to do.

"I will envisage that as soon we are done, with the programme of implementation, we would be able to announce when the roll-out can be," he said.

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