Midrand — President Jacob Zuma has instructed municipalities to work hard to raise the living standards and quality of life of all the people in their areas.
The President opened the 3rd Presidential Local Government Summit, in Midrand, on Thursday.
Amongst services that President Zuma highlighted in his speech as crucial were the provision of roads, human settlements and sanitation.
"They must include effective public transport infrastructure development, as well as new integrated and sustainable human settlements and post-apartheid cities that are more connected, liveable, smart and green.
"The renewal of old towns, inner-city regeneration as well as township renewal must be a key focus of our municipalities. All spheres must work together to ensure that all township roads and streets are tarred, that the bucket system is eradicated and that all hostels are turned into family units," he said.
The President said all spheres of government must prevent illegal land invasion and growth of informal settlements.
The two-day summit is being attended by representatives from all spheres of government, including Ministers, Premiers, Mayors and MECs, amongst other delegates.
Free State MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sisi Ntombela, was amongst delegates who attended the summit, as the MEC and Acting Premier.
Speaking to SAnews on the side-lines of the summit, MEC Ntombela was optimistic about the work that her province will put in to implement the second phase of the Back-to-Basics programme, particularly in the eradication of the bucket system.
"The President said we must start afresh and erase all things that still affect our residents and start to build out townships... we must just change the lives of our people, and the President says we must do this radically. It means we must not look back now, we have run out of time.
"Amongst key challenges that we still face in the Free State is to eradicate the bucket system. We are busy with the Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane to address that. We still have people who use the bucket system in our townships, so this is what we need to address radically," said MEC Ntombela.
Minister Mokonyane also spoke to SAnews on the day. She said it is important for government to prioritise sanitation.
"The eradication of the bucket system in townships has to be prioritised because the President talks about improving the quality of life of our people. We hope that the new councillors will take forward the work that we have done and also ensure that they put seven percent of their budget towards maintenance and building capacity, because most of the municipalities in the Free State do not have the capacity," said Minister Mokonyane.
She said the eradication of the bucket system has been delayed in some municipalities due to bad planning. To address this, the Minister said municipalities must invest in capacity to plan and budget adequately, and in building infrastructure.
"Eradication of the bucket system is not just about the top structure, but also about waste water treatment plant and bulk infrastructure. It goes beyond just the bucket system, and that is what they [municipalities] must plan for," said Minister Mokonyane.
If all these plans get implemented, President Zuma believes that citizens will see a difference in their lives and the fruits of freedom will become visible to all.