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,
Honourable Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Honourable Mayors, Councillors and Leaders of Local Government,
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 Government Forum.

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, it says:

"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 development.

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 and prosperity.

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 empowerment.

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 level:

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 and health;
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 services;
Deliver basic health services for all and reduce environmental health threats, taking into account the special needs of children;
Build basic infrastructure, diversify the economy and improve the transportation and access to markets of local people;
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 "Johannesburg Call".

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 and Solidarity.

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 Charter;
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 sectors;
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 machinery.

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 formations.

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.

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