Programme Director;

Ministers and Deputy Ministers;

Representatives of all spheres of Government;

Leadership of the National Business Initiative;

Our Valued Partners;

Esteemed Guests;

Distinguished Leaders;

Members of the Media;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am most grateful for the opportunity to address you today at this dialogue, centred on the crucial topic of “Co-creating a Functional and Effective Society: Public and Private Sectors Collaborating to Strengthen Local Government.”

It is very encouraging to see many of you expressing interest in collaborating with such a high level of commitment to improve local governance, particularly at this time when our nation requires the contributions of every sector to make it a better place to live in.

In the same spirit of collaboration that has granted us freedom, it is important to pay homage to the bravery and selflessness of our forefathers – people like Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Ruth First, Chris Hani, and countless more – who fearlessly stood up to oppression and injustice to establish the democratic ideals that we cherish today.

Their courage and resilience should continue to inspire us to uphold the values of freedom, equality, and justice. It is because of these selfless heroes and heroines that South Africa is in a far better place than it was 30 years ago. 

The difficulties we confront today, whether of infrastructure development, service delivery, economic growth, social ills, or environmental, require us to adopt the same spirit as those who fought tirelessly for our freedom. It is clear that to resolve these issues and create a thriving society we must collaborate more, bringing together the strengths of both the public and private sectors.

The partnership between the public and private sectors is necessary because it allows us to combine our unique skills, resources, and capacities to solve our communities’ issues holistically. It is for this reason that we value forums such as this Thought Leadership Dialogue as it plays a key role in promoting dialogue, sharing insights, and charting a collective path forward, beyond the elections.

We believe that through open and constructive engagements, we can harness the collective wisdom and expertise of government, business, civil society, and academia to develop innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges. As we take stock of our nation’s progress during the past three decades of democracy, it is imperative that we also consider the role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in contributing to where we are.

Distinguished Guests,

For years, partnerships between governments, the private sector, civil society, and communities have been central to our nation-building and development efforts. Through these collaborations, we have been able to harness our skills, resources, and expertise to address our country’s complex challenges and create an opportunity for progress and prosperity.

Our partnership has emerged as a powerful mechanism for driving economic development, delivering essential services, and fostering innovation and job creation. In today’s rapidly changing world, the establishment of these partnerships with the private sector is not merely a choice, but a necessity. It is only through collaboration with the private sector that we can harness the full potential of our economy and create lasting value for our citizens.

As government, we understand that in this partnership, we all have a distinctive role to play in building our society. We remain committed to increasing private sector investment to promote job creation and building on the existing partnership between business and government to strengthen economic recovery.

Government continues to strengthen its efforts to create a conducive environment by amongst other things, introducing policy reforms, developing enabling legislation, and ensuring that there is stability in the country for the economy to grow.

We value the PPPs because they also play an important role in the country’s efforts to further promote equality. Public Private Partnerships are important for achieving the goals of the National Development Plan 2030, as they contribute to the overall ideal of creating a free and fair society based on equality.

As you might be aware, some of the PPPs’ successes in South Africa include the Gautrain rapid rail link project. The Gautrain revolutionised the way Gauteng residents use public transport. It is a marvel to witness and an example to emulate across the country.

Another example of a successful PPP is South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). In 2010, the Department of Minerals and Energy launched the programme to enhance South Africa’s power-generation capacity.

The benefits of PPPs far outweigh the risks, offering a means to achieve greater efficiency, innovation, and accountability in the delivery of public services.

In the essence of partnership, we welcome, for example, the collaboration between the National Business Initiative (NBI) and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). This partnership seeks to harness the collective expertise and resources of both the public and private sectors to address key challenges facing local government, service delivery, capacity building, and infrastructure development.

The reality is that South Africa’s public infrastructure investments, totaling R3 trillion over two decades, have not met investment levels due to inadequate project planning. As a result, we are changing the local government infrastructure grants model and are reviewing municipal borrowing policies to increase flexibility and private financing. We encourage well-governed cities to increase their borrowing for infrastructure projects towards our developmental targets.

As government, we have also implemented the Smart Cities Framework for Local Government, a digital plan aimed at boosting the economy and laying the groundwork for the country’s future. We encourage the private sector to join in utilising ICT to improve quality of life, urban operation efficiency, and competitiveness while meeting the needs of present and future generations in economic, social, and environmental aspects.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This engagement is very close to my heart and integral to our programmes in the Office of the Deputy President. It is an important step towards the implementation of the District Development Model’s (DDM) strategic partnership framework. In particular, the President has delegated me to assist him in implementing the DDM by coordinating different spheres of government to develop One Plan at the district level to improve service delivery and collectively address challenges faced by our municipalities.

Through the DDM, we aim to reconfigure service delivery design, planning, and implementation. We seek to change the relationship between the spheres of government, the communities they serve, and the stakeholders they need to work with.

Let me commend the Department of CoGTA and Public Private Growth Initiative for entering a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen understanding in matters of common interest such as the effective implementation of the DDM.

It is important that our discussions today also focus on how we ensure that the implementation of the DDM remains aligned with the five-year plans of all three spheres of government while crafting a vision towards a 25-year One Plan, which should ascertain the areas of competitive advantage for each district or metro.

While we ensure that the three spheres of government work together in performing their unique functions as provided by the Constitution, it is equally important to prevent the encroachment of various spheres of government in each other’s area of competence.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that the DDM has demonstrated its efficacy as a tool for improving cooperative governance and collaboration. We will continue to expand and improve this process while also assisting Local Government to carry out its critical responsibilities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all know that Local Governments are the foundation of our communities, directly influencing the daily lives of individuals. They embody the true essence of governance and service delivery.

Through the establishment of robust collaborations between the public and private sectors at the local level, we have the opportunity to strengthen governance, stimulate innovation, and optimise the delivery of services to those who require them the most.

Since 1994, Local Government service delivery has seen significant improvements, with technology playing a crucial role in improving efficiency, transparency, and accessibility. This includes online payment systems, digital communication, and data-driven decision-making.

Local Governments have also prioritised citizen engagement, seeking feedback and involving residents in decision-making processes in areas like transportation, waste management, healthcare, education, and public safety.

As we approach the end of the sixth administration, we must maintain our collaborative efforts to build a functional and efficient society. We must understand our people’s needs, which requires that we listen and engage with one another honestly, recognising the distinct perspectives and contributions that each sector brings to the table.

When we return to government in the seventh administration, our focus should be on restoring society’s trust in the competence of Local Government, to foster shared prosperity and deliver socio-economic rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

We must strengthen Local Governments so that they can maximise 70% of their own revenue while also raising more by enhancing revenue collection in their municipalities.

This suggests that by the end of this Thought Leadership Dialogue, we should have developed strategies to enhance the delivery of services by increasing community participation in local government affairs, partnering with the community to provide services, responding rapidly to complaints from service users, providing value for money, and making sure that service users pay their bills on time.

If we improve in these areas, Local Governments will be able to efficiently provide services to citizens, resulting in higher living standards and a better life for all. As we engage in discussions today, let us remember the overarching objective: to co-create a society that is functional, effective, and inclusive.

I am confident that through our collective efforts, we can pave the way for a better, brighter future where the public and private sectors work together to strengthen Local Government, empower communities, and improve service delivery.

I thank you.