Capacity to deliver public services under spotlight during EXCO Planning Lekgotla
The North West Provincial Government held its annual two-day EXCO Planning Lekgotla this week, ahead of the State of the Province Address to be delivered by Premier Prof Tebogo Job Mokgoro on Thursday, 25 February during the official opening of the North West Provincial Legislature.
Attended virtually by Members of the Executive Council, Executive Mayors and Mayors, Administrators, Heads of Departments, Municipal Managers, Chief Executive Officers of State Owned Entities, SALGA, SAPS and the Chairperson of Provincial House of Traditional Leadership, this year's Planning Lekgotla placed high on its agenda an assessment of the province's capacity to deliver services to the people of the province, acceleration of the province's economic recovery, as well as implementation of economic reform to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth, this at the backdrop of the country's efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Setting the scene for the Planning Lekgotla, Premier Mokgoro highlighted capacity weaknesses within the public services, and challenged the State Owned Entities in particular, to justify their existence by demonstrating their ability to improve on their developmental mandate.
"The time has come, as we confront this new normal and flex our muscles with greater confidence, to commit to putting the people we serve first, and hold each other accountable", said Premier Mokgoro who argued that poor or lack of responsiveness to communities' problems is a serious indignant against the provincial government.
Premier Mokgoro said with the adoption of a District Development Model which seeks to guide the province's service delivery approach across all spheres, the Lekgotla should come up with a set of development projects which the province will implement through this Development Model.
Premier Mokgoro also directed the department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs to coordinate the launching and implementation of these development projects, saying this should take into account the comparative advantages of the province and be anchored on building a broad social compact with the participation of the private sector.
Reflecting on the state of the province's rural roads, local municipalities, the provision of water and sanitation, electricity, housing and health services, the Lekgotla emphasised the need for a robust approach to improving integrated planning and spending on infrastructure projects, Conditional Grants as well as Municipal Infrastructure Grant, this by ensuring that all spheres of government play their role and heighten continuous engagement with communities.
The Lekgotla also deliberated on reports from District Municipalities which highlighted their current and future service delivery plans that are aimed at responding to government's seven priorities, this in a concerted effort to assess the impact municipalities are making in bettering the lives of the people.
To strengthen monitoring, evaluation and intervention on implementation of development projects, the Lekgotla resolved on the establishment of a unit, led by the Office of the Premier and Provincial Treasury as coordinators, which will focus on the development of rural roads as one of the main challenges in the province, this taking into consideration the financial pressures the province is already experiencing.
The Planning Lekgotla also received a presentation from the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies which focused on plans to address digital infrastructure challenges and services in the North West Province, which include the roll-out of Broadband Network and Wi-Fi services to public facilities. Outlining this plan, Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams of Communication and Digital Technologies reiterated the need to modernise government services through e-governance solution, saying this strategy is already being expanded to the local government sphere.
On the digital migration programme, the Minister urged the indigent households of the North West, as a prioritised province, to register at their nearest Post Offices in order for them to benefit from the subsidised Set Top Boxes provided by the department, saying installation thereof will resume from March 2021.
Furthermore, the Minister committed to work with the provincial government in mobilising unemployed young people and SMMEs to participate in the department's Youth Digital Skilling programme which seeks to equip them with skills in Software development, App development, Web development, Artificial Intelligence and robotics amongst others.
Premier Mokgoro is expected to, during his State of the Province Address on Thursday, make pronouncement on some of the resolutions of this EXCO Planning Lekgotla, which include the development projects the province will implement through the District Development Model.