South Africa: Regenerate rural municipalities to mitigate urban migration
Resources intended for service delivery sometimes being spent on other things was also worrying and strengthening the capacity of local government had to be implemented urgently
Unfortunately, these inherited challenges have been worsened over the years by other emerging local challenges
Delegates attending the Local Government Week have emphasised the need to accelerate interventions aimed at regenerating economic activity in rural municipalities to halt rapid urban migration flows.
Local Government Week is a National Council of Provinces programme, in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). It brings together all spheres of government to find solutions and share best practices intended to improve the lives of South Africans through targeted and accelerated service delivery.
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 local government, lack of capacity in critical areas impacted on municipalities’ ability to deliver. Rapid migration flows from rural municipalities to cities also had the unintended consequence of overburdening urban municipalities.
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. Freeing up land for human settlement, agriculture, economic and social development was necessary.
The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Thandi Modise, decried the increasing number of land invasions currently occuring in the country. The legacy of apartheid spatial planning and the overburdening of metros because of rapid urban migration were highlighted as reasons behind these.
“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,” Ms Modise said. “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,” said Ms Modise.
She proposed that the legislative sector look into amending laws that 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. Intergovernmental relations and cooperation, which the fifth Parliament adopted as a strategic pillar of development, also had to be strengthened to improve service delivery in all spheres of government.
Resources intended for service delivery sometimes being spent on other things was also worrying and strengthening the capacity of local government had to be implemented urgently.
The second day of the Local Government Week programme will feature commissions which will deal with issues, such as, governance and municipal support and the impact of migration on land use.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.