Midrand — Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen has given government leaders an idea of what an ideal municipality in South Africa should be like.
Addressing the 3rd Presidential Local Government Summit, held on Thursday in Midrand, the Minister said an ideal municipality should provide democratic and accountable government for local communities, be responsive to the needs of the local community, and ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner.
He said an ideal municipality should also promote social and economic development, promote a safe and healthy environment, encourage the involvement of communities in the matters of governance, facilitate a culture of public service and accountability amongst its staff, and assign clear responsibilities to the municipal management, and ensure the coordination of administrative units and mechanisms.
The two-day summit is being held under the theme, "Transforming Municipal Spaces for Radical Social and Economic Development".
"Critical to local government's mandate is the requirement that they work to improve the lives of all the citizens in their municipality.
"The improvement of the peoples' lives can be achieved through the provision of basic services, development and growth of the economy, recognising and harnessing the skills potential of people living in the municipality, job creation, and mobilising the people to make their own contribution to improve their living conditions," said Minister Van Rooyen.
The summit was also addressed by President Jacob Zuma, who said the renewal of old towns, inner-city regeneration as well as township renewal must be a key focus of municipalities.
He said municipalities must revitalise and mainstream township economies by supporting the development of township enterprises, co-operatives and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) that will produce goods and services that meet the needs of township residents.
"Township entrepreneurs must be used to produce food such as bread for school nutrition and hospitals, clothes for school and police uniforms, and furniture for government offices.
"If we do this, we would bring millions of township residents into the mainstream of the economy, hence the need to revamp economic infrastructure and improve these areas," said President Zuma.
He said the provision of social protection to the vulnerable, in particular women and children, and the eradication of poverty, and the building of social cohesion and social solidarity must be at the centre of a municipality's social transformation activities.
"A municipality's objective must also be to turn the tide against the current spatial patterns of apartheid in the next five to fifteen years, though better and coordinated land use management, ensuring that a new built environment and inclusive spatial landscape emerges across the country," said President Zuma.