Local Government Elections
Working together we have achieved much, but there is still a lot to do
15 February 2011
Celebrating 10 Years of Successful Democratic Local Government through the provision of water, sanitation and electricity
The African National Congress (ANC) prides itself with a number of successes regarding the implementation of developmental local government as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the White Paper for Local Government, 1998. We have done so, in keeping with the Freedom Charter, and the Reconstruction and development programme.
When we took over government in 1994, the majority of our people did not receive basic services from the then apartheid regime. Our people were excluded from benefiting from the wealth of our country. We were segregated and divided over ethnic lines, thereby divided and ruled.
In rural areas there were no services at all. In township there were pockets of services which were not rolled-out to the majority of our people.
The ANC led democratic local government has, over the past ten years since its establishment, demonstrated enormous successes evident in among others, the impressive staging of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The ANC led government also has played a significant role in the fight against poverty through indigence support. Research by various government and independent agencies show that there is indeed, significant improvement in service delivery across all types of municipalities.
In addition to the huge gains registered by our Local Government, there has however been a fair share of challenges made most apparent by community protests and worsened by the effects of the Global Economic Crisis in 2009.
The ANC reaffirm and commit itself to continue to build vibrant, well-capacitated municipalities led by competent, well skilled individuals. Local Government must be supported to provide a strategic interface between government and communities and lead the delivery of services that are linked to the effective management of built environments which are critical to improved quality of life and economic efficiency.
To date, working together as South Africans, we have received essential and other services that have enabled us to live normal and productive lives. Research by various government and independent agencies shows that there are significant improvements across all types of municipalities. Together we will continue to improve local public services and broaden access by ensuring that everyone has access to good quality services regardless of their area of location or origin and whether they are in urban or rural.
Access to improved water sources and adequate sanitation are key elements in the improvement of the quality of life of our people. There was progressive increase (4%) in the percentage of households with access to water supply from a safe source between 2002 (88.7%) and 2007 (92.7%), with slight dip in 2008 (92.0%), and then a rise in 2009 (92.4%).
The percentage of households with access to water infrastructure above or equal to the Reconstruction and Development Programme standard increased from 61.7% in 1994 to 91.8% in March 2009. It is estimated that 93% of the population had access to an improved drinking water supply last year. Therefore, we acknowledge that the supply backlog has been reduced from 41% in 1994 to 7% in 2010. This means that South Africa has surpassed the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without sustainable water by 2015.
As indicated before, the ANC led government is still on course to improve and maintain access to functional infrastructure with acceptable quality and levels of service to all urban and rural areas by 2014. Communities will further be enabled to climb up the water ladder towards progressively better levels of service beyond the basic minimum standards.
The right of access to basic sanitation services is enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa (1996). Section 24 (a), states that ‘everyone has a right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and municipalities have an obligation to ensure the realisation of this right.’ As at April 2008, the sanitation backlog was put at an estimated 3.3 million homes, down from approximately 4 759 709 at the time of the 2001 Census. In 1994, 609 675 households used the bucket system, while in March 2009, only 9 044 households were using the bucket system. The target date for universal access to sanitation is 2014.
The percentage of households with access to sanitation at RDP levels or higher, rose from 61.9% in 2002 to 70.1% in 2007. In 2008, there was a decline to 69.7% and this went up to 72.2% in 2009. As at March 2009, more that 10 million households (77%) had access to sanitation compared to about five million (50%) in 1994. Between 2001 and 2008, approximately 73% of the population had access to basic sanitation services and the basic sanitation backlog. Communities must further be enabled to climb up the sanitation ladder towards progressively better levels of service beyond the basic minimum standards.
The energy sector is critical to South Africa`s economy, contributing about 15% to the country`s gross domestic product (GDP). Eskom, which is the national power supplier, has been playing an integral role in making sure that there are new electricity connections in the country. However, the rate of new electricity connections is slowing down considerably as it now has to be preceded by the establishment of bulk infrastructure. New infrastructure investments are especially crucial in areas which were only partial served or did not have service at all during the previous dispensation. The construction and improvement of energy infrastructure forms an important element of the ANC led government`s focus on infrastructure development, particularly in rural areas. In the long term, better planning of generation, distribution and maintenance is critical for the achievement of the 2014 goal of universal access to electricity.
Between 1991 and 2005, Eskom made over 3.2 million new connections and an additional 1.7 million connections were made by local government. The ANC led government and Eskom also managed to reach the RDP target of 2.5 million connections by 2000. 6 324 schools were also connected by 2000. There has been an increase in electricity connections from 32% in 1996 to 70% by 2001. the percentage of households with connections to the electricity mains increased from 76.8% in 2002 to 82.6% in 2009. In the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 connections seem to have slowed down at, 80.6, 80.8% and 80.7% respectively. At the same time, there is an urgent need to ensure the provision of free basic electricity to the indigent, many of whom continue to use solid fuels for cooking and heating, which has a negative impact on their health and quality of life.
The electricity distribution industry will be enhanced to ensure a wall-to-wall coverage by viable electricity distributor/s.
Together, we must strive for an energy mix that includes renewable energy in a way that improves energy security while creating jobs through this new industry
Jackson Mthembu ANC National Spokesperson
Ishmael Mnisi 082 333 5550