“Government remains committed to work with all the stakeholders in the Vhembe district to resolve any challenges around the demarcation”, these were the sentiments expressed by President Jacob Zuma on 07 May 2017 in Vuwani and Minister Des van Rooyen on 08 May 2017 in Malamulele respectively.
His Excellency President Jacob Zuma visited Vuwani on 07 May 2017 and met a number of stakeholders. This meeting followed the one that the President held with His Majesty King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana on 02 May 2017 to discuss issues around the demarcation challenges in some parts of Vhembe district.
The President addressed the meeting held on 07 May 2017 in Vuwani and he indicated that government has accepted the proposal of communities brought by His Majesty. The proposal was that Vhembe District Municipality will lead in providing services to communities in all the 36 wards under the new Municipality. The Vhembe District Municipality will work with the new municipality (LIM 345) to ensure that communities are provided with services they require. The working together of this Municipalities will be driven through section 80 of the Municipal Systems Act which allows “Service Delivery Agreements”, to be entered into. With the district playing a central role, services to all communities across the District will surely be urgently delivered effectively and efficiently.
“Flowing from the meeting with stakeholder held yesterday (07 May 2017), there was a wrong impression created suggesting that government indicated that the district will only deliver services in Vuwani. “I would like to clarify that this is not correct. Vuwani is part of the 36 Wards under the new Municipality and they cannot be separated”, said Minister van Rooyen. This temporary solution reached will be implemented whilst a permanent plan on the demarcation is being sought.
As mandated by law, both the National and the Provincial government will provide the necessary support for Vhembe District Municipality is predicated on Section 154 (1) of the Constitution, to ensure that there is efficient service delivery to our communities. Furthermore, the Municipal Structures Act, Municipal System Act and other Local Government legislations requires that the National Minister responsible for Local Government and Provincial MEC responsible for local government, in executing their responsibilities towards municipalities, shall “Support, Supervise, Monitor and intervene where necessary”, to ensure that municipalities have the necessary and adequate capacity and capability to discharge the constitutional obligations.
It is within this context that Minister van Rooyen went to Malamulele on 08 May 2017 to meet community leaders in an effort to explain the agreement as outlined by the President. The Minister reiterated the point made by the President that the new arrangement does not in any way suggest that the new municipality will be dissolved, instead government will support service delivery by the two municipalities working together. At the meeting in Malamulele, Minister assured the stakeholders that government did not come to Vuwani to disestablish any municipality.
To ensure the implementation of this decision and that there is delivery to our communities, President Jacob Zuma constituted a Political Steering Committee (PTS) which will be chaired by the National Minister of CoGTA supported by the Provincial MEC of COGHSTA as a co-convener. The Vhembe PTS will receive progress reports on a monthly basis.
“We urge communities to be active participants, working together for the attainment of shared goals, designed and agreed upon to improve the living conditions for all”, added the Minister.
This support package for Vhembe District Municipality will ensure that there is adequate capacity to deliver and provide services to communities. The support package is premised upon the Second Phase priorities of the “Back to Basics” approach on local government which emphasizes the continued delivery of services so as to build a developmental local government. The effective and efficient functioning of the Municipality will ensure that the overarching objective of the Back to Basics second phase which is to build functional municipalities to fully realise their role in the transformation of municipal spaces for radical socio-economic transformation is realised.
Minister van Rooyen clarified that President Jacob Zuma could not address the masses that were at the soccer field in Vuwani because it was not all inclusive and not all stakeholders under Lim 345 were represented. Other stakeholders were not available and that made it difficult for the President to only address a portion of stakeholders, instead of every structure within the 36 wards.
The events following the community meeting held on 07 May 2017, were disturbing and are flying in the face of our efforts to build sustainable communities. ‘Violence is not the answer and no grievance can justify the destruction of property that occurred yesterday”, said Minister.
The resounding message from all of us should be clear, that we prioritise the lives of communities and their right to be serviced. This call will definitely unite communities and build a unified society which embraces diversity as a uniquely South African inherent feature and thus contributing positively to move South Africa forward.
The Minister welcomed the commitment by all stakeholder to allow life to return to normalcy, shutdown coming to an end, leaners going to back school and business opening their doors. As a caring government, we remain ready to engage with stakeholders to discuss and resolve all challenges.
“I appeal to communities to play their part in ensuring that the agreement is fully implemented”, concluded Minister van Rooyen.
Head of Communications – COGTA
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