Delegates attending the Local Government Week have highlighted the need to regenerate economic activity in rural municipalities as a way of stopping rapid urban migration.
Speaking at the National Council of Provinces programme aimed at improving sevice delivery in the country, the delegates acknowledged that a major weakness in service delivery has been the inability of all spheres of government to implement impressive plans already in place.
At the local government level, a lack of capacity in critical areas impacted on municipalities’ ability to deliver, while rapid migration flows from rural municipalities to cities has also had the unintended consequence of overburdening urban municipalities, they found.
On the question of land, delegates acknowledged that proper spatial planning was central to addressing some of the challenges which the apartheid system had created and that freeing up land for human settlement, agriculture, economic and social development was necessary.
“Key challenges inherited from the colonial and apartheid eras included massive structural and endemic social inequality, widespread poverty, rising unemployment, racially-segregated communities and a shaky economy,” said chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise.
“Unfortunately, these inherited challenges have been worsened over the years by other emerging local challenges.
“They include rapid urbanisation and its associated demographic changes, increased demand for local service delivery and accompanying increased social discontent and contestation, persistence of vested interests, financial austerity, fiscal constraints and the slow pace of social and economic transformation,” she said.
She proposed that the legislative sector look into amending laws that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has highlighted as impediments to service delivery.
“Creative ideas also should be explored to increase rural municipalities’ revenue base so that they could deliver services and reinvest in initiatives to increase economic activity,” she said.