Vibrant democracies need strong local governments, says Zweli Mkhize

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DURBAN, 11 December 2018 – Vibrant democracies need strong and stable local government systems, South Africa’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister (COGTA)  Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.

Strong local governments were also crucial to ensure the provision of services to the South African people in an efficient, effective and caring manner, he said.

Mkhize was speaking at the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) national members’ assembly at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Tuesday, prior to president Cyril Ramaphosa taking to the podium.

The theme for the conference was “Building a sustainable, responsive, people-centred local government system.”

“The satisfaction of the people we serve must come first before anything else. It is unacceptable when people become more loyal to their own interests than to the people when it does no longer matter when communities are unhappy when we fear to upset our colleagues and friends more than upsetting the communities we serve,” said Mkhize.

The concerns of communities had to be taken seriously at all times, he said.

The minister said the government had set about addressing “negative perceptions” about local government by launching the municipal recovery plan.

The plan was derived from the “Back to Basics” principle and, together with national treasury, COGTA was focusing on “fixing governance and administration challenges as well as financial management issues”.

“Our priorities also address political instability in some councils caused by shaky coalitions or internal dynamics within political parties,” said Mkhize.

“Working with colleagues, premiers, MECs and mayors, we agreed to adhere to a recovery plan in each of the affected municipalities visited, with clear targets in terms of financial management, governance and administration as well as service delivery improvement. This work is ongoing,” said Mkhize.

He also said that a tender on the review of the remuneration of senior managers was advertised in the Government Tender Bulletin of 30 November with a closing date of 21 January 2019.

“COGTA intends to finalise the review and to implement market-related salaries before the commencement of the new financial year of municipalities in 2019,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize also heaped praise on Ramaphosa’s role in “actively” promoting good governance, leading the way in the fight against crime and corruption and working “tirelessly” to boost the economy.

The assembly is an annual meeting that is attended by representatives from national, provincial and local governments and includes traditional leaders and international stakeholders. About 1200 delegates are expected to attend the two-day event to thrash out ideas on how to improve service delivery.

– African News Agency (ANA)