Thanks to the transition to democracy and the 1996 constitution, your municipality was transformed from its pre 1994 status of “existing at the mercy of the provinces” to a fully functional local government. Our local government was transformed from its pre-1994 racially segregated unequal systems that served different communities to be a vehicle for the integration of society and the redistribution of municipal services from the well-off to the poor.
Many political parties have claimed that this dream have not been realised in most communities since 1994 and promised you and I that realizing this dream will be their primary business. The Democratic Alliance (DA) now emerging as the leader in charge of many of these metro- have promised us jobs, fighting corruption, security and provision of equitable municipal services among others. As the dust continues to settle with the inauguration of executive mayors in various metros- South African’s need to wake up and start holding these new excutive mayors and councilors accountable. Gone are the days of top down governance. There is need for increased active citizenry.
Your municipality is empowered by the constitution to govern, on its own initiative, the local government affairs of its community. Wake up and join the train of local governance. The White Paper on Local Government by Cabinet in March 1998 was anchored on the notion developmental local government, which was defined as “local government committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs and improve the quality of their lives.” Any municipality that is not working with citizens through all the phases of its initiatives is working in contravention of the provisions of the White paper on Local Government.
Our metropolitan municipalities in the eight largest urbanized industrial regions are mandated to implement this developmental mandate. They are charged with addressing the key challenges outlined in the White Paper on Local Government, namely, the legacy of urban apartheid by establishing a basis for equitable and inclusive metropolitan governance and development. It is time for South Africans to be advocates for development in their communities and hold these newly elected executive mayors and councilors accountable. Time for top down development is over. It is in our hands to demand that all municipal structures be effective to ensure that priorities of municipalities are indeed the priorities of our communities.
Issues of poverty, discrimination, acute imbalances in personal wealth, physical infrastructure and the provision of services were and are still present in our municipalities. The transformative agenda of society is a local government imperative and it is time for South Africans in all communities – especially poor communities to rise up to the challenge and be a part of local government. Communities need to be a part of the change we want to see.
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