President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that the road to the delivery of socio-economic rights is “a functional local government” which makes an impact on the quality of life of South Africans.
Addressing the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) national conference on local governance in Pretoria, Ramaphosa noted that when local government delivery fails, “the impact is direct and devastating – and it immediately has an overarching impact on the lives of our people where they live.”
“But when local government works, when basic services such as water, sanitation, education, electrification and healthcare are distributed and provided efficiently and equitably, people’s quality of life is improved, businesses thrive, economies grow and the dignity of our people is assured,” Ramaphosa said.
Local government is one of the most important custodians of the socio-economic rights of the people of South Africa, he said.
“Efficient and affordable service delivery at local government level could mark the difference between leading a life of dignity as promised by our Constitution and the life of squalor, misery and deprivation,” the president said.
He said two thirds of South Africa’s 52 municipalities were in financial distress, with only 41 of them receiving clean audits.
“This is a crisis of enormous proportion. Continuing along the current trajectory is neither viable nor sustainable,” he said.
He added that the District Development Model currently being rolled out in municipalities across the country since 2019 would bring much needed progress in overcoming these challenges.