Address at the Commonwealth Local Government
Forum, 4 March 2003
Chairperson, Minister Sydney Mufumadi,
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon,
Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr Anna Tibajuka,
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum,
Mr Len Duvall,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Honourable Mayors, Councillors and Leaders of Local
Senior officials of various spheres of government,
Esteemed members of the Business Community,
Representatives of various Civil Society Formations,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to South Africa, to the City of Tshwane and
to this important conference of the Commonwealth Local
The government and people of South Africa are happy
to see that this important leadership from the different
Commonwealth countries has gathered in our country today.
I am told that we have amongst us, Ministers for Local
Government, elected representatives and senior officials
of local government, business leaders, policy makers,
community and union leaders from various countries.
I hope that over the next few days you will find time
to interact with each other and enjoy the hospitality
of our country and the City of Tshwane.
The Newsweek magazine of September 2nd 2002 carried
a cover story entitled 'The World's Most Creative Cities'.
Introducing articles on different cities in the world,
"As the 19th Century drew to a close, there was
little reason to believe that a muddy metropolis on
the banks of the Hudson River would ever rival the great
European cultural capitals of London and Paris. But
New York City in the 1890's was on the brink of a creative
explosion that would prove a magnet for thousands of
young painters, intellectuals and bohemians. Newly arrived
immigrants from Eastern Europe stepped off the boat
and into the frenetic streets of lower Manhattan carrying
radical ideas. Many had stopped over in the great European
capitals, where they had read the visionary poetry of
Rimbaud, seen the work of the impressionists and debated
the theories of Marx and Engels. When they began to
mix with the rebellious sons and daughters of New York's
respectable middle class, the effect was electric."
(P52, Newsweek, September 2, 2002)
The theme for this Conference is Local Government -
Service Partnerships. It is therefore my understanding
that this conference will, amongst others:
Provide an opportunity to contribute to the Commonwealth
and all our countries, guidelines for successful service
partnerships for local government that will help our
cities to develop and prosper;
Help shape policies, research and support for programmes
based on service partnerships and feed these into policy
and agenda setting of our cities and countries; and
Provide an opportunity for creating new partnerships
amongst the different local governments and between
the different stakeholders such as local government,
private sector and civil society.
All these would be done within an overall objective
of creating viable and vibrant cities and municipalities
that will have the necessary capacity to contribute
to the agenda of development.
I am happy that you have come to this African City
at the time when we, on this continent, are engaged
in a comprehensive programme of the renewal of our continent
through the programme of the African Union, the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).
I am confident that your work will also assist us as
we work on this important programme of ensuring that
this continent contributes what it can to the global
Many of us here today, come from muddy, dusty and poor
cities that, for better or for worse, resemble that
'muddy metropolis on the banks of the Hudson River'
of the 1890's.
The question facing these cities that belong to the
countries of the Commonwealth, is whether, they are
on the brink of a creative explosion that would prove
a magnet for thousands of artists, painters, intellectuals,
entrepreneurs, scientists and policy-makers.
Indeed, the challenge for these cities is what must
be done to ensure that we use the advantage of modern
technology to attract new generations of businesspeople,
thinkers, politicians, community workers and trade unionists;
and together with them form durable partnerships that
are mutually beneficial so that our cities, like New
York of the 19th Century, begin to develop into classic,
creative and prosperous centres that would become the
locomotives of economic growth for our entire countries.
This, I believe, is the challenge of this important
conference. We must, at the end of this gathering, be
able to assist one another with practical ideas and
plans that will take our cities on the path of development
I am sure we will do this conscious of the challenges
imposed on all of us by an ever-changing world, driven
by modern technology that has reshaped the material
basis of our societies and ensured that we become interdependent.
Accordingly, the Service Partnerships that we are talking
about take place in a context of new dynamic forms of
relationships between the state, economy and society.
Because there is interdependence between the state,
economy and society, we need policies, at all spheres
of government, that would ensure that we conduct our
affairs in a democratic, stable and predictable environment
- a situation that would create a strong base for economic
development and the flourishing of business.
Clearly, this will have a positive impact on the local
government level and help to bring about the critical
developmental outcomes of local economic development;
integrated cities, towns and settlements; the provision
of basic services and infrastructure; and community
Undoubtedly, for service partnerships to work, there
should be a clear and predictable national regulatory
regime. There should also be a transparent and public
process of engaging all stakeholders, including communities,
when considering various service delivery options such
as service delivery partnerships.
The strategic outcome of this conference should also
be informed by some of the critical decisions on development
that the international community has already taken.
In this regard, we will all remember that in the year
2000 the United Nations agreed on a far-reaching accord
on poverty eradication and development when it adopted
the Millennium Development Goals. Last year, the international
community gathered at the Johannesburg World Summit
on Sustainable Development and agreed on key targets
for sustainable development for the 21st century.
I believe that this conference should, among other
things, look at some of the resolutions of these gatherings
and their relevance to the challenges that face us in
our work at the local government level.
The following are among the tasks on poverty eradication,
which could be taken further at the local government
Develop national programmes for sustainable development
and local and community development. These programmes
should help to increase access of poor people to productive
resources, public services and institutions, in particular
land, water, employmenpportunities, credit, education
Promote women's equal access to resources, and improve
the status, health and economic welfare of women and
girls through their full and equal access to economic
opportunity, land, credit, education and health-care
Deliver basic health services for all and reduce environmental
health threats, taking into account the special needs
Build basic infrastructure, diversify the economy and
improve the transportation and access to markets of
Increase access to sanitation to improve health and
reduce infant and child mortality, prioritising water
and sanitation in national sustainable development strategies;
Improve access to reliable, affordable, economically
viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound
energy services and resources, taking into account national
specificities and circumstances.
Clearly, these and other outcomes of the Johannesburg
Summit will assist us as we deal with the varied challenges
of local government and the manner in which we could
build strong partnerships that will ensure that local
government becomes, in reality, a catalyst for development
and provide to the citizens of our countries better
and efficient services.
In the parallel Local Government Session of the WSSD,
local government leaders and representatives adopted
the "Local Government Declaration" and the
The 'Declaration' asserted in part, that there are
four inter-connected principles for local governments,
which need to inform and underpin all efforts to combat
poverty and build a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
These are the over-arching principle of Sustainable
Development, the issue of Effective Democratic Decentralization
with commensurate financial resources for local governments,
the matter of Good Governance as well as Co-operation
There were further commitments by local governments,
inter alia, to do the following:
Support the development targets set out in the General
Assembly's Millennium Declaration, including the overarching
goal of reducing by the year 2015 the proportion of
those who live in absolute poverty, and the target of
achieving a significant improent in the lives of 100
million slum dwellers by 2020;
Work with national governments and the international
community to strengthen local government's capacity
to deal with sustainable development, including via
the dialogue processes agreed in 2001 by the United
Nations Commission on Human Settlements anhe General
Assembly's Declaration on the occasion of the five year
review of the Istanbul Human Settlements Summit;
Develop city and local development strategies which
integrate the economic, social, cultural and environmental
dimensions of development;
Over the next decade, build upon the successes of Local
Agenda 21 and accelerate implementation through local
campaigns and programmes that create sustainable communities
and cities while protecting global common goods;
Undertake City to City / Municipal International Co-operation
activities and partnerships, aimed at mutual learning,
exchange of good practice, and the development of capacity
for sustainable development, in particular in the context
of growing urbaniion;
Develop a new and deeper culture of sustainability in
our cities and localities, including a commitment to
socially and environmentally sound procurement policies
and consumption patterns, sustainable planning, investment
and management of resources, promotion of public health
and of clean energy sources; to this end we ask all
local governments to discuss endorsement of the Earth
Develop effective and transparent local governance,
including a proactive community leadership role, working
with the local organisations of civil society and the
private sector, and ensuring the equal participation
of women and men, and the active invement of disadvantaged
Manage local governments holistically so as to achieve
development goals through the integrated management
of financial, human and natural resources.
Furthermore, those among the delegates from the developing
countries will attest to the fact that, in many of our
countries there is limited institutional capacity at
the local government level, particularly on the question
of the management of programmes, the delivery of services
and the implementation of development projects.
There are also many instances where resolutions on
matters of poverty and development are neither measurable
nor time bound. The result is that we end up with a
plethora of very good decisions on how we can and must
defeat poverty, but with no tangible means of implementation.
Obviously, one of the tasks facing us therefore is
to build the institutional capacity that will ensure
that we have an effective and efficient implementation
I have referred to the decisions of the Johannesburg
Summit, because I believe they provide a basis for the
service partnerships that we are dealing with today.
I think we will all agree that if we have not made
the necessary progress with regard to developmental
issues it is not because of poverty of ideas. These
we have in abundance.
What we miss is the requisite political will and the
concomitant resources that should help us to defeat
underdevelopment. I think this conference should assist
us in forming the partnerships that we need so that
we can move forward faster and bring prosperity to all
the citizens of the world.
There are sound reasons why we need to promote and
engage in local government service delivery partnerships.
As we know, local governments do not command sufficient
internal resources adequately to address the challenges
of under-development, service backlogs and poverty.
There are also instances where expertise in infrastructure
and service delivery is located outside of government.
In addition, there is always the need to broaden the
ownership of the development programmes to include key
stakeholders such as the private sector and civil society
Accordingly, we have seen interesting global patterns
in public-private partnerships especially in the last
decade. This conference will have the opportunity to
look at some of these important examples and draw the
necessary lessons from them.
In this context, we must address the issue of the role
of the state or the municipality in service delivery
partnerships. We may want to move from the position
that says local government must remain the service authority
and exercise its due role in taking the local political,
policy and regulatory responsibility and accountability
for core municipal services. In so doing we should be
specific and clear about the role of our social partners.
We may also want to look at other partnerships such
as the possibility of public-public and public-community
partnerships under the broad umbrella of municipal service
delivery partnerships. Again, it would be important
to clarify roles and responsibilities so as to avoid
confusion and duplication.
I am certain that we will also agree that the local
government service partnerships are not a substitute
for direct municipal service delivery. Nor should these
partnerships be seen as an alternative to ongoing efforts
to improve the efficiency and accountability of our
local government structures. Instead, local government
service delivery partnerships are intended to add to
the capacity and efficiency of our municipalities and
therefore improve the scope and quality of our services.
Let us, together create new and vibrant cities, like
the former muddy metropolis on the banks of the Hudson
River that ended up rivalling the great European capitals
of London and Paris. But we should do this by also learning
from the great cities of London, New York, Paris and
others and even form partnerships with them.
As we develop our cities, as we enter into partnerships
with various sectors in our societies, we should be
able to develop our economies, rekindle the intellectual
engagements and artistic creativities that will make
our metropolis to thrive and prosper.
I wish you a successful conference.
I thank you.