CAPE TOWN, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says the second phase of government’s Back to Basics programme will focus on making municipalities hubs for economic transformation.
The Deputy President was at the National Assembly on Thursday to answer oral questions.
He had been asked what would be qualitatively different about the second phase of the Back to Basics programme in light of lessons learnt in the first phase.
The first phase of Back to Basics focused on laying the foundation for a developmental local government by doing the basics right.
Building on this foundation and all the lessons learnt, the second phase will focus on ways in which municipal programmes can become instruments for social and economic transformation to build a more inclusive local economy, he said.
The Back to Basics strategy was launched by former Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan to improve service delivery at a local level.
The Deputy President said during this phase, there will be a greater focus on issues such as spatial planning, local economic development and opportunities to improve the financial health of municipalities.
He said this would include a reconfiguration of the district system to augment regional economic development, infrastructure planning and delivery.
In the second phase, municipalities will integrate the possible impact of climate change into their plans and work to mitigate the effects of droughts, floods and other disasters.
Municipalities that are not yet achieving the basics, will still need to first concentrate on getting the foundational pillars right, he said.
Addressing Members of Parliament, the Deputy President said over the past 30 months, the Back to Basics programme in local government has become well known and accepted as a transformative intervention.
He said the strategy has touched all municipalities and gained traction from metros to the smallest municipalities in remote regions of the country.
Even where there was a change of leadership after the August 3rd Local Government Elections, the Back to Basics programme has remained a priority for all municipalities.
He said multidisciplinary, inter-departmental Back to Basics task teams have done work in most municipalities to develop Municipal Action Plans and provide hands-on support in areas such as financial management and human resource management.
The Deputy President said some of the indicators of success in the implementation of the first phase includes the fact that over 92% of reporting municipalities had complaints management systems in place at the end of the 2015/16 financial year.
The number of water service interruptions nationally decreased by more than half between 2014/15 and 2015/16, the Deputy President said.
This represents progress because water service interruptions are taken as an indicator of supply and infrastructure problems.
However, there are still challenges in several municipalities. Although there are fewer water disruptions, there are still problems with the state of water infrastructure in many municipalities, to the extent that around 10% of municipal water schemes can be described as dysfunctional.
The Deputy President said the problems include poor management, a lack of effective maintenance, vandalism and theft.
It is important to note that local level protests doubled from 1 000 protests in 2014/15 to over 2 000 protests in the 2015/16 period.
Some municipalities have had difficulty paying their Eskom bills and the provision of refuse removal services remains a challenge, especially in rural areas.
Given the enormity of developmental challenges, and severe resource constraints, the second phase of Back to Basics requires all spheres of government to work together more effectively and efficiently to build municipalities that are able to meet the needs of our people.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK