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

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

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

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