South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday read the riot act to under-fire local government authorities, urging them to stop the rot that has beset most of the country’s cities and towns and start serving the people that elected them.The president said this when he delivered a keynote address at the 2020 South African Local Government Association (SALGA) National Members’ Assembly which ends on Friday.
He acknowledged the well-documented deficiencies plaguing the country’s local governments, with only eight out of the 257 municipalities able to balance their books.
In spite of this, Ramaphosa said the sector was “too important” to be allowed to fail due to its widely needed services at the grassroot levels.
“We simply cannot afford to see local governments fail because when they fail, provincial governments fail, and ultimately the national government, too, fails. The sector is too important for our people and their lives,” Ramaphosa said.
He noted that coupled with institutional weaknesses like corruption and nepotism, most municipalities “are facing a crisis of credibility by our people.”
“We cannot have municipalities that are so dysfunctional that people feel they must resort to violence to be heard.
“We cannot allow the widespread governance failures in municipalities to continue,” the president said.
The mission of local governments therefore is to “improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person,” he added.
This was why the national government over the last two decades has been working towards the realisation of this mission, Ramaphosa said.