Dowry: Housing in Local Government Conference, Western Cape (27/10/2003)

27th October 2003

Date: 27/10/2003
Source: Western Cape Provincial Government
Title: Dowry: Housing in Local Government Conference, Western Cape



By hosting this conference on Housing in Local Government, the Western Cape is emphasising and acknowledging that Local Government in this province is firmly entrenched as a distinctive sphere of government and that this sphere of government is in the frontline of delivery.

In hosting this conference the Western Cape is also acknowledging and reaffirming the role and value of cooperative governance between all three spheres of government.

I have been asked to address you on the relationship between provincial and local government in the delivery of housing. From my perspective, let me first start with the relationship between our two spheres of government.

My department is extremely pleased with the ability of the municipalities in the Western Cape to entrench integrated development planning as a new way of doing strategic planning within our communities. This was achieved during a difficult period of transformation and restructuring of new municipal entities. Municipalities in the Western Cape have shown their commitment to thinking strategically about the use of their resources and engaging their communities to ensure better service delivery for all. The successes and lessons learned during the drafting of integrated development plans in the Western Cape have laid a solid foundation on which to build developmental local government. Indeed, partnerships between the spheres of government and major service providers are not an option, but a necessity to achieve truly developmental local government.

Since 5 December 2000, municipalities have been on a challenging journey towards this sometimes-elusive objective of being truly developmental. A key instrument in focussing our energy on this journey is the municipal integrated development plan. We not only see its value in guiding the core business of the municipality, but in its ability to inform how other spheres of government, service providers and economic role-players focus their respective energies in mutual support of municipal development initiatives.

Municipalities in the Western Cape are now able to create new structures to engage with their communities, identify key development challenges, quantify service backlogs and shape new development interventions and projects. These achievements have started to inform key budget decisions and bode well for entrenching truly developmental local government in our province. This is the key to our common efforts and is reflected in my ministry and department's vision, which is "Developmental Local Government through Partnerships and Co-responsibility".

Developmental local government will mean that we have to change the way we do things. We have to change our narrow visions; we have to change perceptions and fixed ideas. We must not be afraid to tackle new challenges head-on. We as spheres of government, must not limit ourselves to competencies given to us by the constitution or by Acts. By doing this we will indeed improve our systems and we will become developmental in our approach.

You as the local sphere of government are the front-line agents of delivery. This also means houses and the delivery of houses. The objects of local government in terms of the Constitution are:

a) To provide democratic and accountable government for local communities
b) To ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner
c) To promote social and economic development
d) To promote a safe and healthy environment
e) To encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.

Although the Constitution does not provide housing as a concurrent competency of local government I want to refer to the Housing Act, which do assign this function to local government. Municipalities therefore have the duty to:
* Initiate, plan, coordinate, facilitate, promote and enable appropriate housing development
* Ensure access of their inhabitants to adequate housing on a progressive basis
* Create and maintain a public environment that is conducive to housing development
* Set housing delivery goals
* Promote the resolution of conflicts around housing.

With this framework in mind and with a changing environment let us grab this opportunity. Housing is one of the most important activities of local government. Let us change the view that our municipalities are only the providers of services. The challenge therefore is to make the transition to a developmental approach. Our councillors and officials must become developmental entrepreneurs in our wards, our towns, districts and cities. We need to bring development to our different areas of jurisdiction which will benefit all our people and which will bring hope to the millions of despondent people who yearn for a better life. Each and every municipal councillor and official must therefore investigate possible avenues for development and must expand their horizons in search of the applicable strengths and opportunities within their municipal boundaries.

You have the opportunity to make a direct difference in the lives of millions of people. My call on you today is to change your preconceived ideas and attitudes and to become a safe haven of families, firstly by stopping to look for legal answers to constitutional ambiguities and secondly to participate in a political process whereby the allocation of responsibilities can be agreed upon.

Enquiries: Jan Bosman, 083 775 5312
Issued by: Ministry of Local Government, Western Cape Provincial Government
27 October 2003