While there are challenges in municipalities, local government has had a profound impact on the lives of ordinary South Africans.

“It is SALGA’s view that the government, particularly local government, has undergone rapid transition and transformation over the last 20 years,” said the South African Local Government Association President (SALGA) Thembi Nkadimeng.

Addressing the Local Government Week 2020 virtually, Nkadimeng said official statistics show that tremendous progress has been made, particularly in historically neglected areas.

These include former homelands, despite the reality that municipalities are continually chasing a moving target due to population growth and in-migration rapidly giving rise to new settlements.

This year’s Local Government Week is being held under the theme, ‘Ensuring capable and Financially Sound Municipalities’.

“The latest Non-Financial Census of Municipalities, released by the Statistician General in August 2019, confirms that the number of households receiving services from municipalities increased between 2017 and 2018.

“It is within this context that our sincere expectation is that this Local Government Week will venture into providing credible solutions,” Nkadimeng said on Tuesday.

She said the local government has come under a lot of scrutiny recently.

“In one way or another, almost all the services our people get or do not get from the government find the most concrete expression at a municipal level. Despite its most pivotal role, local government was the last sphere to be considered and conceptualised during the negotiation period.”

Over the past 20 years, various policy, legislative, regulatory and support programme measures have been brought about to stabilise local government and to give it the necessary impetus to operate optimally.

“In dealing with the current state of local government and the attendant challenges, consideration has to be given to political, institutional, and financial aspects as a package, instead of wanting to deal with them in isolation,” she said.

The focus for this year’s Local Government Week is on how the national and provincial spheres of government intend to assist the local sphere of government in improving service delivery, financial management and governance.

Local Government Week, which got underway today, will conclude on Friday, 11 September.

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