Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, at the SALGA Northern Cape Provincial Conference

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Programme Director Cllr Lulamile Nkumbi Speaker of Sol Plaatje Municipality
Members of the Executive Council
SALGA NEC Member Cllr Deon De Vos (Acting president)
Cllrs Stofile, Flora Boltman, Xolani Sotashe, Gillian Peterse,
COO Lance Joel
Provincial Chairperson of SALGA Councillor Mosikatsi
Executive Mayors and Mayors
Traditional leaders present
Councillors
Business leaders
Municipal Managers

All stakeholders present here today

SALGA Management and staff (Provincial Director Madeleinne Brandt)

Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

I am greatly honoured and pleased to be part of this august event, the SALGA Provincial Conference. This is s demonstration of the fact that our journey to improve the efficiency, capacity and impact of local government continues. To all our Councillors, congratulations on your election as local representatives of our people and to other eminent positions. As elected representatives we have three things in common. One, we are here through the votes of our communities. Two, we have an unequivocal mandate to improve quality of lives of our communities. Lastly, our communities have a legitimate expectation that we are not going to betray that mandate.

You are joining local government at a point where despite the enormous challenges of service delivery compounded by Covid the work to build a modern, growing and successful province is on track and its accelerated, just to mention few:

  • Quarterly Labor Force Survey Q3 of 202
  • 15.4% improvement in Grade 12 results
  • Improvement in audit outcomes
  • more than 160 libraries are WiFi-hotspots
  • online school registration
  • massive rollout of infrastructure
  • Now in March we closed our provincial bank account with a positive bank balance after many years of more that R360 million

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are seated here this morning as councillors, you might be representing various political parties; you however need to be united in the fact that you carry the wishes and aspirations of the people on your shoulders for the next five years. You have been entrusted by the voters with the responsibility to deliver services across the Province and be part of the work to improve our communities.

As you come from different political parties, it is very critical that you remain true to the democratic principles of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. This will enable you to carry out the mandate entrusted to you by the electorate in an exemplary and honourable manner.  Citizens have empowered you with their votes and they also have a right to be active participants in building sustainable communities that will contribute to the establishment of a functioning democracy.

As I said, the hard work begins now and the task is clear. We need to reduce unemployment, increase access to better quality basic services, overcome the legacy of apartheid spatial development, strengthen community participation and build effective, accountable and clean local government. Local government is where physical implementation of policies and legislation takes place and where lives are changed for the better.

On behalf of the Provincial Government, I would like to welcome the new and returning councillors who are now part of this Fifth Term of democratic and people-centred local government and wish them strength in the task ahead. The hard work begins now and I hope everyone is ready for the task at hand.

Programme Director, our Province, similar to the country, is facing challenges of poverty, inequality and an increase in unemployment. Added to this is the fact that the Northern Cape has by far the smallest population and economy in the country. As such, there is an urgent need for the Provincial government, local government, institutions of traditional leadership, Civil Society, Organised Labour as well as Organised Business to find solutions to improve the three socio-economic challenges bedevilling the Province.

The conclusion of the 2021 Local Government Elections ushered in a new chapter in local government. The outcome of the elections is mostly welcomed as it has entrenched democracy. This is evident with the number of community forum or movements that have participated and emerged with seats in many municipalities.

As we all know, Local government is at the coalface of the work that we collectively undertake as servants of our people. We therefore need to tackle head on the challenges that our communities face at this sphere of Government. Local government is the primary site for the delivery of services in South Africa since 1994.

Thus far we have made tremendous progress in delivering water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal at a local level. These rates of delivery are unprecedented in world-wide terms. The reality however is that more can be done and needs to be done because the challenges that exist cannot be ignored and this is where we need to join hands to make sure we improve the lives of our people.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are glad that most of the municipalities across the Province have convened their first council meetings within the 14 day period as required by law. We are also grateful for the role that SALGA has played in the establishment of these new municipal councils. 

As councillors, you recently hail from the Councillor Induction Programme that was intended to provide you with the necessary capacity. Over and above this Provincial Government also provided support and will continue to do so to ensure that the inauguration of the municipal councils are convened and constituted in accordance with the new legislative requirements of the amended Local Government: Municipal Structures Act.

This support was evident across the province in all 26 municipalities that constituted their municipal councils from the 19 to 23 November last year.  As Provincial Government we will continue to provide support to ensure that local municipalities complete their inaugural council meetings.

The amendments of the Local Government Municipal Structures Act have entrenched the separation of powers in the municipal councils as envisaged by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. It separates the positions of speaker and mayor, and provides for the new position of whip of council. All these office bearers have their respective powers and functions.

It will indeed be necessary to provide support and capacitate the newly established offices of the mayors, executive mayor and whips of councils to ensure that the powers and functions are exercised within the ambit of the legislation.

The transformation of the local government sector remains a priority for this current administration. MEC Vass has already alluded to the District Development Model and I want to further encourage you to work hard at ensuring that we finalise our One Plan, One Budget for all Districts. Our goal is to improve the functioning of municipalities to deliver better services to communities by getting the basics right.

Ladies and gentlemen, crucial to service delivery is to manage your budgets in a responsible manner and this is reflected in the annual audit outcomes of municipalities. In the past few years, audit outcomes improved and regressed due to various reasons mentioned by the Office of the Auditor General (AG). 

As part of the new dispensation of the Local Government : Municipal Structures Act there is provision made for the Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPACs) with a Chairperson and specific powers and functions. This is an important step in the oversight functions of the council.

There will be more support provided to this office to strengthen its capacity at governance and technical or administrative level to ensure that there is a significant reduction of the Unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditures. COGHSTA in conjunction with SALGA and Provincial Treasury has established a forum to support the Municipal Public Accounts (MPA) committees to exercise oversight over the executive and administrative heads.

Municipalities were also supported to develop Municipal Support Implementation Plans (MSIP) to address the shortcoming in the operations of the municipality particularly improving service delivery. The implementation of these plans has clear targets with timeframes to be monitored by National, Provincial and local governments to better the lives of communities through quality service delivery.

We will therefore continue to monitor and support all municipalities through the Municipal Support and Intervention Programme (MSIP) which we introduced before the 2021 local government elections. 

Programme Director, we are aware that the contracts of many municipal managers and managers that reports to municipal managers have come to an end and recruitment processes have already commenced. SALGA, CoGHSTA and Provincial Treasury will continue to support municipalities during the selection process to ensure that municipal councils appoints suitably qualified, experienced and competent senior managers.

To allow for participatory democracy, the establishment of ward committees must be concluded within 120 days after the proclamation by the IEC and this will enhance the participatory process to ensure communication with communities is strengthened for effective and efficient service delivery.  After the elections of ward committee members it would be expected from municipalities to capacitate these committees.

In order to clearly define the role and responsibilities of the ward councillors as well as the ward committees;   it remains crucial for ward councillors together with the Ward committee members to interact constantly with communities. This will enable you to identify critical issues and prepare possible solutions to avoid situations that might lead to protest within particular wards. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we are also pleased that in the municipalities that have been established, we elected women leadership in key positions to lead the fight in improving the lives of our people. We are also aware that the role of young people is vital if we are to build a better country because young people are the innovators and frontrunners of change.

Young people are also crucial in the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment and for this reason we have also deployed young people to strategic positions such as Mayors, Speakers and Chief Whips. We wish all of you well and are certain that you will carry out your duties in the best interests of the people of this Province.

As I am about to conclude, I want to remind you that the role of leadership in the 21st century requires leadership to be smart as the challenges of our communities are more complex. It calls for leadership that is energetic and focussed to engage with issues that are aimed at improving the lives of our communities.

Focus on the task at hand is very important, do not get distracted by nonsensical sideshows that have nothing to do with improving the quality of life of our people. You must undermine attempts to de-focus you.

I wish to appeal that we, as representatives of our wards and our people extend to one another the respect that comes with serving our people. Be tolerant of views and persons expressing views opposed to ours. My humble plea is that we work together and when we differ, we do so with restraint, respect and humility.

Having said that colleagues, comrades and friends, I am confident that you will emerge from this conference determined, better equipped and more capable of using local government to help us build a Modern, Growing and Successful Province with the single aim of building a better Province for our people.

We want to express our gratitude for the support of SALGA as a critical stakeholder in capacitating and enhancing the role of local government.  We will continue to call upon SALGA for their inputs and comments in shaping the developmental agenda of local government.

I want to wish you well on your conference and trust that you will emerge with a leadership that will provide the necessary guidance and expertise to accelerate service delivery, promote clean governance and high standards of ethics.

Thank you

 

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