MEETING OF ZULULAND DISTRICT
CENTRE, ULUNDI : DECEMBER 18, 2001
I welcome wholeheartedly the opportunity offered by this important meeting and praise the Chairperson of the Zululand District Council, Cllr VZ Magwaza, who organised it. This meeting is an expression of the type of co-operation and mutual respect which ought to inform the relationship between municipalities and traditional leaders. I am very appreciative that the Chairperson of the Zululand District Municipality has called for this meeting to provide amaKhosi with a year end report on the activities and programmes of her municipality. I am pleased that this occasion highlights the positive relations between the district municipality and the amaKhosi in its territory.
It is not my intention to speak about the merits of the year end report, which each Inkosi should analyse for himself and determine how it affects his community. However, I merely wish to stress the importance that each of us considers carefully the year end report of our District Municipality to understand its activities and future programmes. We need to clearly understand what the district municipality has done and what it can do, comprehending and appreciating both the potentials as well as the limitations of the contribution which the municipal government can make towards the overall formulae of governance and development in our communities. On the basis of such understanding, it is essential that each of us makes specific inputs in respect of what we hear from the district municipality so that we can also provide our own wisdom on its operation and governance.
The district municipality has undertaken a number of projects and is contemplating more projects and activities for next year. We must realise and accept that the district municipality is our municipality and that such projects and activities are for our benefit and for of our communities. Therefore, we have a vested interest in promoting this dialogue and making our inputs by expressing our comments on the year end report. However, we must also take cognisance of the present situation in which municipalities and traditional authorities find themselves operating. Because of the failure by government to resolve the outstanding issue of the clash between the powers and functions of municipalities and those of traditional authorities, there is still little or no clarity on what each institution is supposed to do and how their relationship ought to be structured. For this reason, it is essential that traditional authorities and municipalities meet on occasions such as this, to find ways and means to operate together on the basis of a mutual understanding of projects to be pursued and activities to be conducted in traditional communities.
It should also be considered that traditional leaders have long recognised the need for the activities of an over-arching municipality operating at a regional level. In their negotiations with government for a better system of local government which would include traditional authorities, traditional leaders always suggested that regional municipal local government such as the Zululand District Municipality should be maintained. However our situation was that at the local level, traditional regional authorities should operate in lieu of local municipalities. Therefore, we have never seen a conflict between traditional regional authorities and district councils, but always felt that between the two levels of local government there should be a healthy interaction. Part of this approach should be the shifting of delivery competencies and activities towards regional and traditional authorities so that at the district level projects could be conceived, co-ordinated, funded, structured and implemented and their actual delivery could take place through traditional leadership.
We need to consider how much of this approach we can bring into our relationship with our district municipality so that traditional authorities can become part and parcel of the municipality's activities, especially from the viewpoint of their actual delivery. We need to overcome the present lack of clarity between the powers of municipalities and those of traditional authorities by forming a mutually beneficial and mutually respectful partnership for growth and development. In this partnership, traditional authorities should provide a contribution of their critical but constructive inputs and could perform the actual delivery of services, projects and local government activities.
The District Municipality of Zululand has established and carried out many projects and I have had the honour of officially opening some of them, such as the community garden and sewing clubs. I was particularly impressed by the sewing clubs which have delivered sewing machines to our women, enabling them to conduct a most valuable activity not only for their immediate families, but also as a stepping-stone towards productive activities for local markets. I regard Miss Zanele Magwaza as my own daughter and I find it very gratifying to see how our own children are showing such leadership in development. It is essential that leadership be practised at all levels. The struggle for development can only be won through leadership and requires initiatives such as those which have been taken by Miss Magwaza’s municipality.
I must stress the importance of the necessity that the practical approach underpins all the projects undertaken by the District Municipality. I have often seen many projects coming to nothing because of a lack of practicality. Often projects are conceived at the theoretical level or are merely spoken about but never reach their implementing stage. I have also attended the launch of many projects which, after their launch, were never carried out. We must realise that the shared responsibility we have is not that of launching projects but rather that of seeing them through and ensuring that each project produces what it was meant to accomplish. At the outset, we must ask ourselves what a project is meant to accomplish, whether that may be to enable people to generate cash revenues, or to achieve a better condition of life, or to have access to services, or to improve their personal skills and human potentials, whatever the case may be. We need to remain focused on the intended and verified benefits of each project and verify that they are indeed produced and people do in fact benefit from projects as was intended. This is a function that traditional leaders are particularly qualified and suited to perform in partnership with the relevant municipalities.
The needs of our people are far too great for any waste of resources to be allowed. It is a tragedy when projects do not work or when resources are utilised to establish and support some projects which are less needed than others. We need to work together to ensure that this may not happen, and I call on people to follow up and ensure that all projects are carried out. After all, we must keep in mind that even though there might be different levels of government and different forms of government, such as municipalities and traditional authorities, there is nevertheless only one constituency, whose needs and aspirations we are all equally committed to satisfy. We can only do so through dedication and shared responsibility.
I wish to congratulate Miss Magwaza for her activity and for the report. I know that many projects have been difficult to undertake and she had to fight against many difficulties. Undoubtedly, the greatest of such difficulties is that central government failed to implement the constitutional prescripts that all municipalities be given an equitable share of resources and left district municipalities under-funded. I know well how difficult it is to be given powers and functions, and no resources to exercise and perform them, while our constituency expects tangible results. Even in this respect the partnership between traditional authorities and municipalities is essential, so that through our shared action we can supplement the lack of resources. It is important for traditional leaders to mobilise our people to ensure that many projects may be conducted in spite of a lack of resources and on the basis of the goodwill which our communities are willing to contribute towards their own struggle for their growth and development.
I hope that this meeting can lay the foundation for a strong and mutually profitable co-operation which will benefit our communities and begin promoting their development. I wish to thank all those who have participated in this meeting, in spite of the approaching festive season, which indicates that they recognise the importance of the developmental work to which we are called. I sincerely hope that next year we will see an even larger number of projects which can make a difference in the life of the people, and that such projects will indeed be the product of the co-operation between municipalities and traditional authorities.