Programme Director Ms Avril Williamson, The Director-General of the Department of Cooperative Governance
Ms Manthatisi Machepha and Mr. Stephen Buabeng-Baidoo, both representing the African Union
Honourable Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister of COGTA
Honourable Sipho Hlomuka, MEC for COGTA KZN
Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, Mayor of eThekwini Municipality
Cllr Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, Deputy President of SALGA
Our distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen:
It is with great joy that I particularly welcome my former colleagues from the African Union, with your rich experience in democracy and governance we are honoured that you have made the time to be with us on this momentous and long outstanding engagement.
It is befitting that we are hosting this event here today, even though we are meeting under these restricted conditions necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has ravaged our communities for over a year. As we all know that the African Union was launched in this beautiful City. Your Worship the Mayor, we still must put up a memorial to remind future generation that the AU was launched here.
We hope you will find the time to enjoy this breathtaking part of our country. This area was once the site of many battles fought for our liberation. Not too far from here is the site of the famous Battle of Isandlwana where the Zulu regiments triumphed over the marauding British Army. In sheer ingenuity and innovation, the spears and tactics employed outmanoeuvred the fire cannons and rifles of the coloniser.
It is great that we are launching this charter during a month when we celebrate the contribution of women who bravely occupied the frontlines of the liberation struggle. This struggle for women to have full participation in all areas of human endeavour, be it political, economical, social, academic, judiciary, scientific, research, cultural to name but a few. We also seek to reverse the legacy of the subjugation and oppression of millions of our people, blacks in general and Africans in particular, the majority of whom are women who bear the brunt of poverty, hunger, landlessness, economic exclusion and inequality and many other problems.
Women continue to face a different struggle, that of gender-based violence. Even as we celebrate women’s month, we are saddened to learn of the brutal murder of Nosicelo Mtebeni by a man she trusted. We join her family, the nation with those who attended her memorial service this morning in mourning her death. We condemn her murder and call for justice, a successful conviction, and the strongest sentence for her murderer.
This decentralisation charter will enforce the efforts for the emancipation of women and the provision of services to all people especially in the rural areas, and of course, we know the majority of people in the rural areas are women, children and youth.
Fortunately, our Constitution is already in the line with the charter. It promotes cooperation among the three spheres which are distinctive, interdependent, and interrelated, represented here by Mayor Kaunda (the Local sphere), MEC Hlomuka (Provincial sphere), National and traditional leadership (myself and DM Bapela).
Our system is geared towards serving the needs of our people. We have the ultimate responsibility to ensure the voices of our people inform everything we do. The institutions of local governance are amongst the most effective instruments for our people to be active participants in improving their lives.
Thus, we see today’s signing of the Decentralisation Charter, as an important milestone in fulfilling the aspirations and developmental ambitions of our people. In taking forward the June 2014 commitments made by the Heads of State and Government in Malabo we take this opportunity to recommit our government to the African Charter on Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development. For us this instrument is critical to the realisation and harmonisation of local action with national, regional and continental plans including the Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
Through the recently adopted District Development Model we have geared all of government and society towards decentralisation, localised financing, and the spatial referencing of all our development goals and projects. The New District Development Model builds on the White Paper on Local Government (1998), which locates the role of local government as critical in “rebuilding local communities and environments, as the basis for a democratic, integrated, prosperous and truly non-racial society”. This model is a practical Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) mechanism for all three spheres of government to work jointly and to plan and act in unison.
The model consists of a process by which joint and collaborative planning is undertaken at local, district and metropolitan spheres together by all three spheres of government resulting in a single strategically focussed Joined-Up plan (One Plan) for each of the 44 districts and 8 metropolitan geographic spaces in the country.
The signing of this Charter will no doubt help to accelerate the implementation of the District Development Model and will strengthen the collaboration of the three spheres to work as one government serving the diverse needs of society. We are also confident that this Charter will assist us to illuminate the way towards progressive Pan-Africanism, by fostering exchanges and collaboration amongst our local governments.
On this important occasion we wish to reiterate that the South African government remains committed to the African Agenda. This includes strengthening of the African Union and supporting efforts to promote democracy, peace, stability, and development in our Continent.
I take this opportunity to thank all those who have made it possible for us to sign this Charter today. We look forward to inviting all of you again when we celebrate the eventual ratification of this important Charter, which we have no doubt will be very soon.