We need to think differently to achieve local government goals’ – Dlamini-Zuma

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DURBAN, November 14 – Those working in the local government sphere must “think differently” in order to harness development opportunities in an environment of limited policy choices and public resources, South Africa’s cooperative governance minister has told an internatioanl gathering of local government leaders.

“We must therefore think differently, and not subject the development of local economies to financial and infrastructure constraints,” Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said at the start of the United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) summit.

“This will require collaboration in planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting between national, provincial and local authorities as well as all social partners including our people.”

She told delegtes at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Wednesday night that the congress had the responsibility of exploring new and innovative ways to reverse the economic fortunes of the majority of citizens.

“This can be achieved, by amongst others things, giving the voice back to our people. Local economic development can generate and sustain growth. It can also support the provision of basic, social and economic infrastructure as well human development,” Dlamini-Zuma told representatives of local and regional governments worldwide working to define a global agenda for cities and regions for the coming years.

Those attending included former South African first lady Graca Machel, who is chairwoman of civil group African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and United Nations under secretary Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond,

The resources available to work with were shrinking despite there being enough wealth in the world to sustain families and households, Dlamini-Zuma said, noting that according to the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Report for 2018, the average wealth per adult stood at about $63,100, almost ten times more than the per capita wealth of the poorest nation.

“The same report informs us that the world’s richest 1 percent own 45 percent of the world’s wealth and the top 10 percent own over 84 percent of global wealth,” she said.

“On the other hand, adults with less than $10,000 in wealth make up 64 percent of the world’s population but hold less than 2 percent of global wealth. Although we live in the most productive time, the benefits are skewed.”

The minister said seeking innovative solutions in the context of the fourth industrial revolution presented delegates with the opportunity to “leapfrog the stages of development, particularly in the developing world”.

“We must therefore innovate and change the manner in which we govern at all levels of government, particularly at a local level. The service, development and skills requirements as well as the potential income streams of our local governments and cities will drastically change in the foreseeable horizon,” she said.

“Knowledge in areas such as coding and the internet of things will be requirements as the world of work gradually transforms. In transforming that world of work and the communities we serve, we must ensure the inclusion of women and young people. Our transformation will not be complete until they too are active participants at all levels of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.”

Dlamini-Zuma said transforming cities into smart and green zones was “an important mitigation and adaptation stepping-stone” in grappling with climate change.

“Our cities ought to be liveable and places of choice for work, leisure and development. With growing urbanisation, this summit must explore and equip delegates with the tools that can facilitate for the other side of the coin of urban renewal – rural development,” she said.

– African News Agency (ANA)