Representing the interests of all citizens
In 1996, our first democratically elected president spoke about the importance of building a good between the people and government at a local level
In November 1996, then president Nelson Mandela was the keynote speaker at the National Summit for Organised Local Government. This was the foundation of Salga’s evolution over the past 20 years.
Here are some of the things Madiba said at the summit:
“Our remarkable progress since we enacted the Local Government Transition Act in February 1994 has taken us through far-reaching restructuring. The transitional councils laid the ground for legitimate local authorities, and prepared the way for South Africa’s first nonracial, democratic local government elections. These elections were held under difficult circumstances with very tight time frames. We owe much to the efforts of the electoral task team, which achieved the formidable task of managing, coordinating and monitoring 811 separate elections in the nine provinces. Our new Constitution reflects the importance of local democracy to South Africans. It gives prominent recognition to local government, and entrenches the protection and safeguards needed to ensure that it develops as a distinct sphere of government in its own right. This summit will be remembered as a milestone in the history of organised local government. The staggering of elections prevented organised local government from structuring itself formally at an earlier stage.
However, the establishment of the SA Local Government Association begins a new era.
You have a critical role to play in representing the interests of local government within the unfolding system of intergovernmental relations.
The essence of Masakhane is to build a good relationship between the people and government, particularly at the local level.
Many of you have now been in office for just over a year. It is a good time to assess your own performance. Every councillor needs to ask: Have I made a difference to the quality of life of the people? How successful have we been over the past year in delivering essential services to residents, such as sanitation, roads, refuse removal, health services, electricity?
Have we been able to deliver water and to mend the leaking pipes and the broken meters?
Have we been able to bring services to the informal settlements and the rural areas? Have we deserved the trust that communities put in us?
This summit is a milestone in local government.
It is a new beginning to cooperative governance.
It is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the past three years, and to examine our weaknesses.
It is a people’s summit, in that you represent the needs and aspirations of all the local communities of our country.
You, therefore, have a great responsibility to plan properly for the future.
I wish you every success in your deliberations.”
Our new Constitution reflects the importance of local democracy to South Africans NELSON MANDELA