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Published: 21 May 2009
|MP: Mabuza: Address by the Mpumalanga Premier at the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) assembly (21/05/2009)|
Source: Office of the Premier, Mpumalanga Provincial Government
Title: MP: Mabuza: Address by the Mpumalanga Premier at the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) assembly
Councillor Khosi Mkhonto
The Chairperson of SALGA in the Province, Councillor S Mashilo
Members of the Executive Council
Mayors and councillors
The Chief Executive Officer of SALGA, Mr X George
The Provincial Executive Officer of SALGA in Mpumalanga
Ladies and gentlemen
The vision of creating a better life for all our people, particularly the poor, by the African National Congress (ANC) led government is on course. The overwhelming support that they gave the ANC on 22 April 2009 says it all. We have been awarded another opportunity to continue translating their wishes, as expressed in the Freedom Charter, into reality.
Together with the people, we have identified five key priorities on which we, as government, would be expected to deliver tangible results over the next five years. As many of you would know, these are:
* creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods
* rural development, food security and land reform
* the fight against crime and corruption.
Together, we have agreed that, for these goals to be achieved government, business, labour and civil society have to go into the mode of ‘business unusual'. There is no room for complacency. We need to infuse a strong sense of urgency and commitment to ensure that we address the development and service delivery needs of our communities.
One could safely assume that the convening of this important gathering by the practitioners of service delivery is not accidental but a clear understanding of the enormous tasks given to the ruling party by the electorate to execute without apology.
On behalf of the provincial government, I wish to commend SALGA for allowing the issues of service delivery to occupy centre stage in your day to day activities.
Having said that, allow me therefore to highlight few issues which I believe have bearing on the work of SALGA as captured in the five year local government strategic agenda. As we enter the home stretch towards the 2011 Local Government Elections, it is important that we enhance alignment between the 2009 ANC manifesto with the current five year local government strategic agenda.
As part of the five year strategic agenda of local government, the delivery of basic services such as electricity, water, sanitation, refuse and waste removal remains essential in improving the quality of life and the sustainable development of our communities. Critically, the capacity of our municipality to discharge their constitutional obligations remains serious call for concern.
Most of our municipalities continue to score very low in terms of performance. Many of the protests that showed their ugly faces in some of the municipalities bear testimony to that effect.
Our recruitment policies and finance management skills would require some attention. It is therefore incumbent on SALGA to assist in this regard. The training programmes that municipalities have initiated have to be intensified. As the provincial government, we are more than willing and ready to walk with you in your endeavours.
As the provincial government, we will continue to work collaboratively with SALGA in enhancing hands-on support to municipalities to strengthen their capacities to meet service delivery targets in line with the five year local government strategic agenda. Collectively, we have to ensure that such services are fast tracked because; in the main they constitute challenges that are really a thorn in the flesh of our people.
Another area of concern is the issue of integrated planning. We all agree that most of Integrated Development Plans (IDP) of municipalities still leave much to be desired in terms of the quality of content and overall credibility as developmental tools.
As a consequence, the poor quality of planning and fragmented implementation of government programmes across the three spheres of government become major constraints to the achievement of developmental and service delivery outcomes that we envisage.
As we are all aware, this is not a new problem. We have, on numerous occasions discussed and debated this issue extensively in many different fora and taken brilliant decisions to circumvent whatever shortcomings that we have identified during our deliberations.
However, coming to the implementation of those decisions, nothing much has happened to date. We still continue to contest for the same space to implement our different projects. We continue to basically utilise our scarce resources inefficiently and ineffectively.
Despite these challenges, one would maintain that the IDP framework remains an appropriate planning tool for the effective delivery of services.
It is a framework that could assist us to maximise the utilisation of our resources and accelerate the delivery of quality services.
What is then crucial is that all spheres of government must participate in processes of developing IDPs of the individual municipalities. This is one area that I am planning to pay a special attention to during my term of office. I believe that there is room to make IDPs our common point of convergence as different spheres of government.
In this regard, we need meaningful engagement and participation by all key stakeholders and implementing agencies to ensure coordinated implementation of programmes within a common and spatially defined integrated development plan.
One anticipates that the newly established National Planning Commission would support the view of making IDPs a common frame of reference for integrated planning. Alongside this, the development of a single planning cycle across the entire government would alleviate challenges emanating from the management of different planning cycles between different spheres of government.
As a matter of priority, we have to give teeth to the planning process. Even if we have to amend the legislation, let it be.
Programme director, an important measure of democratic governance is the ability to strengthen systems of public participation, transparency, integrity and accountability for service delivery outcomes. We need to enhance public participation and consultation to foster communities' ownership of their own development and empowerment
It is apparent that certain institutions that we have established for the purpose of consultation and co-ordination of government programmes continue to be lame ducks. Among others, one would refer to ward committees, community development workers and community policing forums. These institutions are not operating as expected.
Therefore, we have to find better ways of making them effective because they are important and necessary institutions to advance the ideals of democratic governance and accountability.
Programme director, our stated commitment to working together with stakeholders and partners ‘to do more' should also find concrete expression in our approach to enhancing the province's relationship with the outside world. Despite limited progress on the international relations front, you would agree with me that international relations continue to be a challenge, especially at municipal level.
Our overall assessment is that our capacity to derive more value from international partnerships has been negligible and non impact. Part of the problem has been our inability to monitor and evaluate the contribution of international engagements to development and service delivery in the province.
If we are to realise the positive impact of our international partnership, it is critical that a shared and common international relations engagement agenda is pursued to avoid fragmentation and purposeless interaction with the outside world.
The coordination of municipal international relations programme should be prioritised to ensure that municipalities align their international programmes in a manner that contributes to existing provincial twinning partnerships.
I believe that SALGA will play an important leadership role in our efforts to streamline international relations so that they are strategically targeted to add value to the achievement of our provincial priorities.
As we continue to strengthen our democratic system of local governance, strong partnerships between government and traditional leadership institutions are essential to advance development and the quality of service delivery in the province. As local government, we should continue to provide the necessary support to the local houses of traditional leaders and traditional councils to ensure that they are able to function effectively.
As I conclude, I would say that for municipalities to succeed in their pursuit of effective delivery of quality services, it would be imperative that we strengthen the issue of intergovernmental relations. There will be a need for us to jointly sharpen the institutions established for engagement and also improve the content of our discussions. Undoubtedly, we have to get value for time spent in those meetings.
Let me take this opportunity to wish a successful and fruitful meeting. 2011 is around the corner. Let us work harder and fast track service delivery. The hope of our people is in our hands.
I thank you