Zuma to meet country's mayors on state of local govt

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma will on Tuesday meet with more than 283 executive mayors and mayors to discuss the state of local government and service delivery improvement.

According to the Presidency, all nine premiers and municipal managers would also attend the meeting, to be held in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

"The meeting follows previous service delivery improvement meetings that the president has been holding to improve dialogue and action within the public service, for example with school principals and the police," the Presidency said.

Local government is one critical area which needs an intensive focus of all spheres of government. "The president has decided to take a more hands on approach in dealing with this and all matters of service delivery."

President Zuma will be accompanied by Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Collins Chabane, National Planning Commission Minister, Trevor Manuel, Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, Human Settlements Minister, Tokyo Sexwale, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Sicelo Shiceka, among others.

The meeting comes ahead of a two-day indaba which will look at overhauling the local sphere of government.

The indaba, which will take place on 21 to 22 October, will be hosted by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Departmental ministerial liaison officer, Vuyelwa Qinga Vika, told BuaNews that during the indaba a report will be released on the state of local government countrywide.

"The report that we are going to release at the indaba reflects the state of local government in the country. Delegates will be deliberating on genuine issues of governance, corruption, fraud, financial mismanagement and nepotism," Vika said.

She said from the delegates' inputs, a local government turn around strategy will be developed during the indaba.

"This local government turn around strategy aims to help overhaul local governance in the country with the intention of minimising things like service delivery protests.

"The first target of the turn around strategy, which we are hoping to implement in January next year, will be to minimise service delivery protest by about 60 to 70 percent in 2011."

The long term approach would be to dissolve issues of service delivery, clearly indicating government's commitment of addressing the local governments' challenges in piecemeal.

The indaba is also expected to determine the minimum standards of a person, before being elected as a ward councillor.

According to Vika, the report reflects that some ward councillors' do not communicate with their communities. "There are proposals that ward councillors should be able to read and write and they should also be able to read a financial statement."

After the indaba, the department will communicate the decisions with the communities, while fast tracking the implementation of the recommendations.

The indaba, which will take place in Boksburg, will be attended by representatives from all 283 municipalities in the country.