The Ministry and Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperative efforts in the local government sector. Business Unity South Africa, Rand water Foundation, the South African Local Government Association and business chamber AHi gave a short briefing on their aims and objectives of their own organisations, how they saw this arrangement as promoting the sector, and pledged their commitment to ensuring that the agreement would work well and efficiently, to the benefit of all citizens. All of them also stressed the importance of ensuring that this was not merely a paper agreement, but a working model that would develop the country as a whole, and said that it would serve as a shining example to other sectors.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs affirmed the commitment of the Department to the delivery of service under the agreement. He appreciated the involvement of the agencies, and said that this would progress the country’s aims of the best service delivery for all. An acceptance of the full partnership between municipality and citizens was needed, with cooperation running both ways, and it was also recognised that effective and efficient work would depend on strengthening the municipal workers’ skills. He regretted that the unions were not present today, but said that they would also have to work cooperatively and well with municipalities to achieve efficient production. Commitment and support were sacrosanct, and he was appreciative of the need for all to work in a unified way.
The Minister and the agencies concerned signed the Memorandum of Understanding.
Meeting with the Minister on partnering agencies and “business facing local government”
Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs briefing
Prof Muzamani Nwaila, Director General, Department of Traditional Affairs, welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologised that it was beginning far behind schedule, saying that the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs was still in the Cabinet meeting, and had been delayed. He expressed appreciation for the presence of the Committee, the leadership of various partnering agencies, dignitaries and the press. He noted that this meeting was to address “business facing the local governments”, which, as he pointed out, was “everybody’s business”.
Business Unity South Africa briefing
Mr Clive Manci, Vice-President, Business Unity South Africa, said that the efficiency of the South African economy depended greatly on how well planned it was at the local level. This planning cut across several municipalities and related also to their investments. He believed that this fact necessitated some form of partnering between local government and other entities, and the kind of partnering now being anticipated between government and the private sector and agencies was a significant milestone in the business landscape of South Africa. This mechanism and structure would act as a platform for achieving the national plan and creating a conducive environment for the future. Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) pledged its support to the project in technical ways, and he reaffirmed the commitment of this body to the partnership and to ensuring that it would progress in line with the Memorandum of Understanding.
Rand Water Foundation briefing
Prof Fred Otieno, President, Rand Water Foundation, expressed the appreciation of the Foundation to the Minister for the effort put into the partnership, and was pleased to see the finalisation of the partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). He set out some of the work and initiatives of the Rand Water Foundation, stressing that it already engaged in community development initiatives by providing support to relevant authorities. The Foundation had helped and provided support in various municipalities, notably Bloemfontein. It was in partnership with various technology institutions, and was pleased to note that about 20 people had graduated in Environmental and Water resources. The Foundation had also entered into capacity building initiatives with local Councillors. In summary, Rand Water Foundation affirmed its readiness to help the local government in areas of social economy and well-being, which could only help the whole area. He appealed that the Memorandum of Understanding be implemented as stated, for an efficient outcome to the benefit of the people.
South African Local Government Association briefing
Councillor Speedy Mashilo, representative of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) expressed his pleasure for the Association (SALGA) being included in this meeting, and noted that SALGA was an agent of service delivery and ensuring welfare for the people. SALGA enjoyed support of, and in turn also supported the municipalities in achieving their goals and overcoming their challenges. He re-emphasised the need for more private-public sector cooperation in society. This form of partnership could serve as an excellent example to others, and he urged other stakeholders to come on board. He appreciated the involvement and commitment of the other agencies in helping out with the challenges. He noted that local government was “the bedrock of democracy” and if it failed, so would democracy, which made it all the more important for everyone in society to ensure that it was sustainable. He too asserted the commitment and readiness of SALGA to the partnership, hoped that the Memorandum would be firmly honoured and that service would continuously be delivered to the people, pointing out that there was no expiry date on the agreement.
Business Chamber AHi briefing
Prof Chorinho, Vice President, AHi, said that the pact about to be signed was a shining example of a public-private sector partnership. Through the partnership, it would be possible to annex skills, talent, experience and enthusiasm of the people to help the government achieve its goal. She noted that the (AHI), a long term business association, started its operation in 1942 and now had over 105 business chambers, with many in small and rural towns, which had various forms of experience in financial, business and strategic matters. AHI had gained valuable insight through working with different municipalities in developing the local communities, and this insight was then ploughed back to develop financial skills, more capital, investment and improvement in tourism. She expressed the willingness and appreciation of the organisation in working with COGTA, and promised that dedicated and committed staff would be available to see to the effectiveness of the agreement to be signed. She pledged AHI’s support to the agreement and looked forward to the challenges ahead.
Mr Richard Baloyi, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, appreciated the presence of all, and also expressed his thanks for their commitment. He assured them in turn of the COGTA and Ministry’s desire to implement the agreement to the letter. He reiterated his wish to bring to fulfilment his earlier promises of service delivery.
He noted that the questions that needed to be answered around the agreement would include questions about why it was being signed, in whose interest it was being signed, and how the agreement would be sustained.
The COGTA played a role in supporting local government and municipalities, with the aim of helping with service delivery. The question should not be “what is the municipality doing for me?” but “what am I doing for the municipality?”. Because there was a need to work effectively, there was a need to ensure that the whole area was strengthened. He fully recognised and reaffirmed the need to make municipal workers more efficient and develop their skills. The Unions, at municipal level, needed to work together with the municipalities, to achieve efficient productivity. He lamented the absence of the unions from this meeting and said that they should be involved at subsequent meetings. In all partnerships, the issue of commitment and support was sacrosanct. People and communities were waiting for manifestation of the promises. He also noted that there should be recognition of the traditional institutions.
The message had been coined, at COGTA, of “My COGTA, My inter-government relation”. This endeared the people more to the Department, and emphasised that its aim was to deliver services. Through this agreement not only inter-governmental relations, but also, inter-state relations, would be facilitated.
The Minister reiterated the desire for the agreement to “live long” and produce service delivery. This would be made more appropriate with the adoption of the Report on Local Governments. He noted that the deplorable state of livelihood in the local municipalities needed to be addressed, and this was part of the targets to be met. This was an issue that had long occupied the people. He noted the importance of doing things in a unified way, and through one body, and likened this to unity in the implementation of the partnership.
Mr Baloyi also noted and reaffirmed the readiness of staff of the Department to work diligently on the implementation of the agreement.
He lamented that whilst he had been informing the House of the Department’s budget, there had been a number of protests staged. He sought to create strong avenues of dialogue for issues of concern and service delivery, and to avoid protest and violence.
The Minister again expressed his appreciation for everyone present at the meeting.
Signature of agreement
The Minister and the representatives of the various agencies took turns to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.
Prof Nwaila expressed his thanks to everyone present, and his appreciation to the Minister for his leadership, guidance, and the leadership of the partnering agencies, for their commitment to the partnership.
The meeting was adjourned.
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