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In his Freedom Day speech, the President commended mucipalities for the good work done to provide basic services since 1994.
AFTER 17 years of democracy, President Jacob Zuma said he is pleased with the provision of basic services in municipalities, but added that much more still needed to be done.


Thousands of people listen to President jacob Zuma deliver his Freedom Day speech (Photo: Buanews)Thousands of people listen to President Jacob Zuma deliver his Freedom Day speech (Photo: Buanews)He was speaking on Wednesday, 27 April, at the 17th annual Freedom Day commemoration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Zuma said that as part of undoing the legacy of the Group Areas Act and apartheid settlements, the government would focus on upgrading informal settlements in municipalities in a bid to provide people with security of tenure and access to basic services. This would be done over the next five years.

He said that about 80 000 mixed-income rental housing units would be constructed to enable low-income earners to live closer to where they work.  “In this way, we shall dismantle the apartheid landscape, which dictated where people should live and work on the basis of the colour of their skin,” he said.

Distressed municipalities would be given more effective and direct support, Zuma said. “The ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work.”

The government had to appoint qualified and experienced personnel, make the tender and procurement process transparent and improve levels of financial management and accountability, Zuma noted.

“We must also find ways of better managing the relations between councillors and municipal officials," he said, adding that the lack of synergy between the political and administrative aspects of governance was affecting service delivery in municipalities.

Economic transformation

Dancers parade at the Freedom Day celebrations (Photo: Buanews)Dancers parade at the Freedom Day celebrations (Photo: Buanews)Zuma said political freedom ought to be accompanied by meaningful economic transformation and emancipation; as such, the government has prioritised economic transformation and job creation this year.

“To broaden economic empowerment to reach the masses of our people, we are encouraging various forms of collective ownership of the economy such as employee shareholding schemes, co-operatives and public ownership,” he explained.

Zuma urged all citizens to vote on the upcoming local government elections on 18 May. “A number of issues will need to be attended to after the elections, to implement the local government turnaround strategy which was adopted by Cabinet,” he said.

“We know that many more South Africans still need water, electricity, sanitation, jobs and other basic necessities.

“That is why we must continue working together to expand access to services and reverse the legacy of apartheid and colonial oppression,” he said.

Freedom Day is commemorated annually on 27 April, and marks the anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

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