When local government fails, millions of South Africans suffer

Honourable Speaker/Chairperson Honourable Members, Fellow South Africans,

Mr President, when local government fails to deliver on their responsibilities as mandated in the Constitution, the lives of millions of South Africans are severely impacted negatively – as we hear and see when we visit our constituencies or do oversight all over the country.

We have listened to quite a few plans over the years. While we are still waiting for these plans to come to fruition, I want to focus on the current crippled and incapable Local Government structures of our country.

Mr President, you have said, and often repeated that opposition parties should instead of making noise, offer solutions.

We welcome your acceptance of the DA’s solution for reform of District Municipalities in announcing the District Model.

In the Western Cape, the need for change in the operation of District Municipalities has been discussed for some time in the Premier’s Coordinating – and other forums. This resulted in the initiation of the Joint District Approach Model. The Western Cape government is taking the opportunity to implement the Joint District Planning Approach in all five of the province’s District Municipalities

This model will see the formation of the District Coordination Forums, and the utilization of shared services, especially in rural areas where specialised skills and knowledge are often scarce.

The Joint District Approach creates the ultimate opportunity to align plans, assess them and finally implement them. This will ensure that gaps will be closed and prevent the duplication of processes in service delivery.

Mr President, you referred to the need to address Climate Change. Some of the many environmental hurdles in local government is that of inadequate waste management, air quality and pollution that contribute to the decline of our environment.

Through the Joint District Approach, the Western Cape government has a mission to over time reduce the 162 landfill sites to just 9. This will result in more waste volume in concentrated areas. Consequently, better opportunities will be created for increased recycling, sustainable waste management and job creation.

Mr President, the district model should not be a powers and functions discussion nor a tool to unilaterally take control of unmandated powers and functions.

This should not be a vehicle to broaden the opportunities for corruption and malfunction. It should focus on streamlining resources and service delivery to the people of South Africa.

Several municipalities are failing in service delivery. With many municipalities under administration, now is the time to find proactive solutions to the way interventions are being implemented. Mr President, In September 2019, The Public Affairs Research Institute published a comprehensive report on Section 139 interventions. Our solution is to at least implement one of the many recommendations in this report, namely that Section 139 interventions are not used as a last solution, but as the framework to prevent the collapse of local government.

Bobby Unser said that “success is where preparation and opportunities meet”.

The Joint District Planning Approach is an opportunity – the Western Cape is prepared to implement it. This is what you call building a capable state.