Address at the National Council of Provinces,
Cape Town 12 October 2000
Chairperson of the NCOP;
Honourable Members of the House;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When we spoke at the National Assembly in June on the
occasion of the discussion of the budget vote of the
Presidency, we addressed the issue of the challenge
of the transformation of our system of governance.
We did this because of the critical importance of this
matter in our continuing struggle to build our democratic,
non-racial and non-sexist society.
Precisely because of this importance, we are of the
view that all of us must participate in the process
of the execution of the national task of the conceptualisation
and construction of this system of governance.
I believe that it would be fundamentally wrong for
us to leave this matter solely in the hands of the Executive.
It is true that, as it should be, our legislatures,
including this Council, do indeed participate in this
process, as they consider legislation directed at the
establishment or the transformation of the institutions
Beyond the adoption of such legislation lies the task
of creating the institutions and establishing the processes
the law visualises.
I believe that you, as law makers, should have a continuing
interest in the achievement of the objectives contained
in such legislation as you would have approved.
Today, for these reasons and in continuation of the
remarks I made in June at the National Assembly, I would
like to address the critically important issue of local
As the Council knows, the Minister of Provincial and
Local Government, the Hon Sydney Mufamadi, has now announced
the date on which the local government elections will
I would like to take this opportunity to convey our
government's understanding of the frustration that all
political parties and the electorate as a whole might
have felt at the delay in the announcement of this date.
Nevertheless, I would like to plead that this delay
was necessary in the context of the search for inclusive
processes as we pursue the reconstruction and development
of our country.
It is clear that some voters will be inconvenienced
by the fact of our holding the elections on the particular
date announced by the Minister. I would like to apologise
to all of these and assure them that we tried our best
to avoid this inconvenience.
Nevertheless, I hope that all those affected will make
the necessary effort to exercise their right to vote
for candidates and parties of their choice. This is
of the greatest importance to the continuing national
effort further to entrench democracy in our country.
I am certain that the Independent Electoral Commission
will do everything in its power to ensure that all registered
voters have the possibility to exercise their democratic
right freely to help constitute our local legislatures.
As the honourable members are aware, the majority of
our voting stations will be based on school premises.
As has happened in previous elections, we will continue
to count on our principals and teachers to assist the
IEC and the nation to conduct successful elections.
I appeal to this important sector of our society once
more to demonstrate its patriotism and selflessness
by helping to man these voting stations, displaying
the same dedication that inspired all of us during the
last general elections.
Once again, I would like to call on all our parties
and all the candidates, to do everything they can to
ensure that the forthcoming elections are free of all
violence and intimidation.
Given the levels of violence in our society that continue
to be a matter of serious concern, all of us have a
continuing responsibility to entrench the practice and
culture of the resolution of all conflicts in our society
by peaceful means.
This includes the conflict inherent in the competition
among parties and individual candidates for the necessarily
limited elective positions in our legislatures.
We have to implant the understanding among all of us
that any seat won through the coercion and intimidation
of the electorate is a seat acquired by fraudulent and
Anybody who holds a seat by virtue of resort to these
anti-democratic means should be left in no doubt that
he or she sits in any of our legislatures as a pariah,
with no legitimacy and no right to the honoured title
of a people's tribune.
Again as this House knows, the holding of the forthcoming
municipal elections has brought into sharp relief the
need for us as a country to address the issue of the
role and place of the institution of traditional African
government in our democracy.
Many of our country's traditional leaders have taken
the view that the installation of the new municipalities,
with elected councils, will result in the complete obliteration
of their powers. They fear that they will therefore
be transformed into nothing more than a ceremonial institution.
Correctly, they raised this matter with our government,
requesting that it should be addressed. We have agreed
with them that, indeed, the issue should be addressed,
taking into account all relevant factors, including
the further consolidation of our non-racial and non-sexist
As a result of the interaction between the government
and the traditional leaders, agreement has been reached
that our constitutional and legal order has, in fact,
diminished the powers that traditional authorities exercised
prior to the transition to democracy.
We have also agreed that we have to attend to this
issue. Apart from anything else, this should ensure
that we give real content to the objective contained
in our Constitution to respect the institution of traditional
Accordingly, we have agreed with the representative
structures of the traditional leaders that this matter
will be addressed in two phases.
The first of these refers to the interim period immediately
after the election and installation of the new municipal
The question that must be addressed is what powers,
roles and functions should be attributed to the traditional
authorities in the context of the existence in the communal
areas of elected municipal councils.
This will be done before these elections take place.
The second phase is the longer term, during which a
comprehensive determination must be arrived at relating
to the same questions of the powers, role and function
of the system of traditional government.
A satisfactory response to this important challenge
in both phases may require that we make such changes
to our legal order as may be necessary, to ensure that
we give legal expression to the agreed powers, role
and function of the system of traditional government.
I trust that the Honourable Members will understand
the importance of these processes and thus be willing
to convene as a part of the national legislature to
consider such statutory measures as may be required.
I am pleased to inform the honourable members that
our government is firmly committed to taking all necessary
steps to ensure that the concerns of the traditional
leaders are addressed with regard to both phases.
This will be based on the common agreement that the
institution of traditional government must play a meaningful
role as part of our system of cooperative democratic
I would like to take this opportunity to express my
appreciation to our traditional leaders for their readiness
to support and encourage the process of democratisation
and to work side by side and in harmony with the elected
It was for this reason, given our assurance that their
concerns would be attended to, that they supported the
speedy announcement of the date on which the municipal
elections would be held.
In this context, I would like to believe that the traditional
leaders will play their role in ensuring that these
elections take place in conditions of peace, with everybody
in the communal areas and elsewhere in our country,
enjoying the right freely to choose such candidate or
party as they may wish to.
I must also call on our state security organs once
more to make yet another sterling contribution to the
common objective of achieving free and fair elections.
The Hon Sydney Mufamadi has addressed the Council on
the revolutionary process in which we are engaged to
create an entirely new system of local government.
You have also discussed this important matter as you
considered the White Paper and the legislation that
gave legal force to our intentions to establish a system
of local government that is democratic, people-centred,
meaningful and effective.
Accordingly, it is not necessary for me to cover the
detailed ground you have already traversed. Nevertheless,
as I have already indicated, I would like to make some
comments to the Council relevant to the process in which
you have been engaged of the construction of a new system
of local government.
The National Council of Provinces occupies a unique
position in our constitutional order as a consequence
of which it must play a special role in ensuring that
we succeed in the creation of the new system of local
Among your ranks you have members of our Local Government
Association, directly representing in this national
legislative chamber the local government sphere of government.
As you know, this places you, this Council, in the
select and therefore difficult position of being the
only legislature in our country that directly spans
all three spheres of government.
As a Council you have various statutory responsibilities
with regard to local government.
At the same time, you are directly linked to our provincial
legislatures and executives which, in turn, also have
statutory responsibilities towards local government.
It is therefore both necessary and appropriate that
the Council reflect deeply and seriously on the strategically
important issue of everything that has to do with the
establishment of the new system of local government.
I can report to the Council that in the last six years,
we have, as a country, made great strides in the transformation
of our country's institutions of national government.
We would not hesitate to make a similar statement about
the state system at the provincial level.
Needless to say, we are not suggesting that we have
realised all the objectives we set ourselves or the
goals that are a necessary consequence of our common
pursuit of the objective of creating a democratic, non-racial,
non-sexist and people centred society.
The reality is that we still have to travel a long
road before we can be satisfied, as a nation, that we
have the kind of state machinery that we would be happy
But still, there is no gainsaying the fact that, most
remarkably, we have managed to establish the new, replacing
the old, at a speed and in a manner that even we never
thought was possible.
I am convinced that we cannot make the claims with
regard to local government that we can make, quite legitimately,
with regard to national and provincial government.
This is not to deny the positive results achieved by
the elected local government representatives, the municipal
public servants and the ordinary people in all localities
during the last few years in bringing about change at
the base and foundation of the new South Africa we are
struggling to create.
The unequivocal recognition of this reality must however
be qualified by a similarly honest admission of the
fact that of our three spheres of government, we have
made the least progress at the level of the local system
I am convinced that we have now elaborated and legislated
the necessary policy, institutions and processes that
will enable us to ensure that we achieve balanced transformation
among all the spheres of government.
The forthcoming elections give all of us an opportunity
to make an important advance in our common struggle
to bring into being the new system of local government.
All this vividly illustrates the point that the fundamental
social transformation of our country continues to occupy
pride of place on our national agenda for the construction
and development of our new society.
That social transformation requires, among other things,
that we create a truly developmental state system that
serves the interests of the people, that is truly representative
of all these people, efficient and cost-effective.
Our system of local government must also be built on
the basis of these principles. We are convinced that
the local government legislation you have approved gives
us the possibility to achieve these objectives and thus
create a radically new system of local government.
I believe that it is in the interest of all of us,
regardless of party affiliation, to ensure that we succeed
actually to build this new system focused on enabling
the people to participate in government and ensuring
that the government and the state play their proper
role in the struggle to achieve the objective of a better
life for all.
I am certain that the matter is clear to all of us
that we can never realise these objectives unless we
have local governments that are strong enough to bring
about development where it must occur, in each and everyone
of our localities.
It was for this reason that we all thought it necessary
that we should consolidate our municipalities into larger
and more rational entities rather than continue with
institutions that are too small, fragmented and weak.
Needless to say, the mere creation of these larger
entities by itself will not solve the problems that
confront us. Together, we will have to do more work
to ensure that these larger and fewer municipalities
actually have the capacity to meet the challenges of
social transformation at the local level.
I would like to discuss a few of these challenges to
indicate to the Council some of the matters which I
believe the Council should concern itself with as it
makes its own contribution to the construction of an
effective and efficient system of local government.
One of the biggest challenges is going to be how we
use the new structures as vehicles to de-racialise our
communities. In doing that, there may be tension occasioned,
among other things, by the effort to ensure the more
equitable distribution of resources between affluent
and poor areas, to address the serious disparities in
We need to de-racialise the settlement patterns in
our country. The establishment of integrated residential
areas will give us the possibility to unite our people
so that together they can create conditions of peace
and stability where they can live side by side as good
neighbours, friends and compatriots.
As we all know, rural areas pose a specific developmental
challenge in our country. Black rural areas were in
the past completely neglected in terms of governance,
infrastructure and infusion of resources. We will need
to put in place measures effectively to end poverty
and under-development in these areas.
The manner in which we have redefined these structures
by integrating some of the more advanced municipalities
with rural ones, seeks to address this challenge. The
new local government structures will ensure that rural
areas enjoy better access to resources, both human and
material, flowing from a broader base.
The new structures will also play a key role in the
implementation of the government's integrated rural
development strategy, which seek to defeat poverty and
ensure sustainable development.
They will also consolidate the work done in implementing
the projects approved in terms of the Local Economic
In order to meet these objectives, we need to build
the capacity of these structures in a manner which will
ensure that we effectively meet the challenge of reconstruction
and development. We need to ensure that we put some
of the difficulties we have experienced in the past
behind us. In this regard, we will insist on better
monitoring and the establishment of early warning measures.
Government will make resources available to enhance
the capacity of these structures properly to manage
their finances and ensure effective delivery of services.
This will involve the training of elected representatives
in strategic management and of relevant staff in financial
For local government to succeed, national and provincial
government will have to play a significant role in providing
support and participating fully in the resolution of
all challenges thrown up by the introduction of these
new structures. This House, occupying the unique position
we have referred to, will have to make a contribution
to the success of these structures.
Local government is the primary sphere of interaction
between citizens and their government. It must succeed,
lest democracy becomes devoid of any meaning to the
great majority of our people.
I wish all the political parties in our country well
in the forthcoming elections, bearing in mind the critical
importance of these elections to the continuing consolidation
I thank you.