Minister Des Van Rooyen

Minister Van Rooyen at the Commonwealth Local Government Forum Southern African Regional Conference

28 JUNE 2016




Programme Director;

Honourable Ministers present here today;

Hon. Bornito De Sousa, Minister of Territorial Administration in Angola;

Hon. Frans Solomon Westhuizen, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Botswana;

Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in Malawi;

Hon. Phiwayinkosi Mendi Mabuza, Minister of Housing and Urban development in Swaziland;

Hon. Mduduzi Duncan Dlamini, Minister of Tinkundla Administration and Development inSwaziland;

Hon. Stephen Kampyongo MP, Minister of Local Government and Housing, in Zambia;

Hon. Abednigo Ncube, Minister of Rural Development Preservation and Promotion of National Culture and Heritage, in Zimbabwe;

Hon. Chistopher Peter Chingosho          , Minister of Local Government National Housing, inZimbabwe

Mr. Carl Wright, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum;

Rev Mpho Moruakgomo, incoming Chair, Commonwealth Local Government Forum;

Cllr. Thabo Manyoni, Chairperson of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA), Southern African Regional Office and the South African Local Government Association;

Cllr. Parks Tau, Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg;

Mr. Xolile George, Chief Executive Officer South Africa Local Government Association;

Representatives from our development partners, the EU, DFID, Barclays Africa, Microsoft, Southern African Development Community, and the UNDP

Government Officials from our neighbouring countries in the Southern Africa region;

Dumelang, Sanibonani, Good Morning, Mamukasei

Let me take this opportunity to welcome you to the Southern African Regional conference. It gives me great pleasure to extend the warmest our welcome to our guests who are visiting our country.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Today’s conference is taking place at an interesting time in our country as we stand on the eve of the 4th democratic local government elections scheduled to take on 03 August 2016. We are also happy that we meet today at the time when the South African story is unfolding across the country. This story confirms that confirms that indeed South Africa is a better place to be than it was before 1994. The democratic local government in our country is turning sixteen (16) years, and the month of June is youth month which marks 40 years since the 1976 uprising, where the youth took a stand against apartheid draconian laws, especially being taught in Afrikaans.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Our meeting here today will allow us to draw on the influential network of the Commonwealth which is well-placed to assist in influencing policy development and lead on democracy and good governance at local level.

Local government is the sphere of government closest to the people, hence in South Africa we speak about the developmental local government. The notion of the development local government is important in this day and age to ensure a system that is committed to working to working with communities to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs and improve the quality of their lives”.

Today as we begin the discussion about local government, we should ensure that such dialogue targets especially those members and groups within communities who have been marginalised and having to access to services.

Today, municipalities face enormous challenges in promoting human rights and meeting human developmental needs, addressing service delivery backlogs and problems caused lack or resources and planning for a sustainable future. Therefore in the coming two days, we should be able reflect and ensure that communities are at the centre of our strategies to better the lives of communities as part of our developmental approach.

Ladies and Gentleman,

We gather here today for this regional conference to reflect on the new global development Agenda crystallized into what is now referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs).

The 70th Session of the United Nations Generally Assembly of September 2015 reached an important milestone when it concluded the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda and adopted a new global development agenda encapsulated in the outcome document entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what they did not achieve. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. The Goals and targets will stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.

All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. The agenda further commits all United Nations member states to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path. This new agenda further pledges that “as we embark on this collective journey, no one will be left behind”.

Local government is the space where the goals, initiatives and efforts of development are realized and visualised. It is therefore important for all of us working in this sphere of government to capture the understanding that progress on the attainment of the new development agenda 2030 will be measured by the level of delivery of essential services to our people and the visible improvement in their quality of life in their localities.

It is then by no accident that the theme of our conference for the next two days is about localization of the SDGs. It is a call for all of us in local government to own the new development Agenda which concludes in 2030, and make every effort to realise it within the context of Africa Agenda 2063.

This conference will bring together over 500 senior policy makers to discuss strategies for boosting local government’s resource base and capacity to improve performance, service delivery and ensuring it is fit for purpose to meet the demands of the future.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Local economic development, (LED), can serve as an important catalytic instrument to create the necessary broad partnerships and conditions for economic development that can generate better and high quality service delivery, decent jobs, participation and empowerment of communities, women, youth and vulnerable groups. It is a bedrock on which the resources required for the attainment of SDGs can be generated.

Local and regional governments must play a crucial catalytic role as initiators and drivers of effective LED initiatives. Local government in South Africa is alive to this understanding and is premised on the belief that it has to play a developmental role, hence we refer to a developmental, accountable, local government that is focused on citizen’s priorities and capable of delivering high-quality services consistently and sustainably through cooperative governance across government and in partnership with communities, civil society and private sector partners.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The South African National Development Plan, puts local government at the center of the attainment of the other development priorities of the plan. It argues that the effectiveness of local governance is key to unlocking other priorities such as local economic development.

Recognising these realities, the National Development Plan (NDP) has called on cities to be our economic growth drivers through improved spatial efficiency and social inclusion. This is because of the rapid speed of urbanisation that occurs not only in our country, but throughout the continent, put lot of strain adding enormous pressures to housing, services and infrastructure.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Ministry of Local Government and Traditional Affairs in South Africa has through its departments begun leading the charge towards local economic development. Some of the key programmes include what we call Business Adopt a Municipality, where private sector businesses adopt a municipality to improve municipal institutional capacity to create an attractive investment climate and impact on communities through educational and artisanal training of youth within these areas.

Furthermore, there are efforts to ease red tape within local administration to give the necessary confidence to the private sector and emerging local entrepreneurs to heighten economic activity within our municipalities.

The Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which will be launched in the country soon, already integrates thoughts on the role local economies will play in the reversal of Apartheid spatial planning and economic access for the previously marginalised.

Ladies and Gentleman,

I am happy to say that as South Africa, we are making progress in ensuring that we deal with the challenges that confronts our cities. The IUDF states that cities are about people and should be safe, liveable, socially integrated, economically inclusive and globally competitive, with an active citizenry.

The South African 2016 State of Cities Report (SoCR) is therefore making an important call to action for all segments of society – from communities and all other key stakeholders to support the inclusive growth and development of our cities.

As places of high economic activity, cultural diversity, learning, innovation and creativity, cities enable growth and opportunities for people to advance socially and economically. This is why the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) places cities at the centre of achieving our national development objectives.

It is important to note that Africa has the highest urbanisation rate in the world. More and more people are moving to cities, attracted by economic and job opportunities – this is a global phenomenon, and South Africa is no exception and this can have either positive and negative effects.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Without sharing much on our local government initiatives to the peril of the opportunity for all specialists gathered here to inform how Local Economic Development can be used as a framework for Localising the SDGs, I want to indicate that we are excited about what this conference will produce for the benefit of our region and the continent of Africa.

We believe it will offer us the opportunity to all reflect on what the new global development agenda will mean for us as local government leaders and produce the kind of innovative thinking that should catapult Africa into a new era of reflection and unity of purpose in improving the lives of its people.

I therefore invite all delegates and my counterparts present here today, to assist to heighten our efforts to find solutions through LED and other initiatives to implement programmes at local government level that will ensure that we attain the targets of the SDGs, and improve the lives of our people.

I thank you