Director General Avril Williamson

Address by Director General Avril Williamson at the Study Visit by the Technical Delegation from Ethiopian Cities Association the Department

Fellow representatives from:

The Ethiopian Cities Association

National Treasury

Officials from the DCoG

Greetings to you all.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in this session. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to you to our lovely country, a rainbow nation full of possibilities. We take pride in being a country that has succeeded to bring together many cultural, racial, and ethnic groups following the end of apartheid (after 1994).

This visit by yourselves is a pleasant reminder of the affection that exists between the people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the people of South Africa, which extends back decades, even before the two countries established formal diplomatic relations.

As South Africans, we continue to be grateful for Ethiopians’ help in our fight for independence. One of the most notable examples of such assistance is Ethiopia’s 1962 military training of our late struggle icon Nelson Mandela, our first democratically elected president and international symbol of peace and healing.

Mandela commented on his stay in Ethiopia in his autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom, saying, “I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. Meeting His Highness, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, would be like shaking hands with history. Ethiopia has always held a special place in my own imagination, and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined.”

In honour of and in the spirit of Mandela, I welcome you to our country today as you embark on this study tour, and I call on all of us from Ethiopia and South Africa to continue strengthening links and building a better Africa.

With that in mind, we will in this session highlight the Department of Cooperative Governance’s role as well as some of the current programs aimed at urban development. Officials present today will provide greater detail on the role of the Department and some of the urban development initiatives currently being implemented.

The mandate of the Department of Cooperative Governance is derived from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Department is responsible for the administration of various pieces of legislation aimed toward cooperative governance.

The department’s vision is for an “Efficient and effective cooperative governance system that enables resilient, safe, sustainable, prosperous, cohesive, connected and climate-smart communities”.

It is the department’s mission “To lead the Cooperative Governance system in support of integrated planning and implementation across all spheres of government”.

Small Towns Regeneration Strategy and Implementation Plan 2021

We have also embarked on the review of the existing Small Town Regeneration Programme (STR) which is also an initiative in support of the IUDF. The STR will be implemented in three pilot towns in collaboration with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The three pilot sites are:

  1. Senekal is situated in the Setsoto Local Municipality in the Province of Free State.
  2. Piketberg is situated in the Bergrivier Local Municipality in the Province of Western Cape.
  3. Modimolle situated in the Modimolle – Moogkophong Local Municipality in the Province of Limpopo.

The aim of the STR is to revive, restore and fulfil the economic potential of underperforming small towns, as well as to embrace the value of small towns and their central position in larger hierarchical settlements. Our Vision is to integrate our Urban and Rural Settlements and connect our Cities, Towns and Intermediate Cities. At the heart of the STR is the central aim to address the developmental needs of small towns.

Approved in March 2021, the strategy brings together various proposals to move forward with the regeneration of SA’s small towns. The proposals focus on:

Empowering local communities and forming active coalitions between government, business, and civil society to break the insistent cycle of rising inequality and falling growth.  As well as unlocking and stimulating investment and growth and regenerating our small towns through cleaning, greening and improvement programs. The strategy re-engineers municipal work using public-private-community partnerships to deliver innovative services and capacitating municipalities through community participation.

As part of the implementation, the Department has engaged with the three pilot towns led by the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Thembisile Nkadimeng. The purpose of the initial engagement was to establish relationships with the local municipalities and role players such as SALGA, and existing community organisations and to outline the implementation process.

As previously stated, the South African team here today will give you presentations on these projects and will be available to assist you if needed. My role was to welcome you to our country and wish you well on your tour.

We hope that the content offered here will stimulate good discussions and help you realize your goals for visiting our country.

I thank you.