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By Lunga Simelane


Private-public partnerships: Plan to fix local government

Deputy President Mashatile emphasizes collaboration with private sector to rejuvenate struggling municipalities.

With the state of many municipalities in the country classified as dysfunctional, Deputy President Paul Mashatile believes strengthening government partnerships with the private sector will assist to fix them.

Mashatile, with the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, in partnership with the National Business Initiative, convened a ‘Thought Leadership Dialogue to reinforce local government as a convergence point of service delivery.

The strategic dialogue centred around the theme of “cocreating a functional and effective society: public and private sectors collaborating to strengthen local government”.

Public-private partnership model to successfully run local government

Leaders across the three spheres of government, business leaders, nongovernmental organisations, state institutions and international organisations discussed a best practice forum to guide the public-private partnership model to successfully run local government.

According to Mashatile, the private sector and government were committed to a collaboration and it was important to strengthen those collaborations between all role players.

“For us to succeed, we really need to ensure this works. We also agree that partnerships are the way to go to achieve our objectives between these two sectors. There are a lot of resources in the private sector and in government. If we pool these resources together, we can do much more,” he said.

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Mashatile had not said anything new

Political analyst Levy Ndou said Mashatile had not said anything new.

Ndou said these partnerships had been going on for quite some time and the government planned to strengthen them to improve municipalities’ service delivery but also job creation.

“When you give these jobs to the private sector, they also employ other people. There are certain responsibilities municipalities cannot perform and they will need the private sector. That is where partnership comes in.”

Ndou said the challenges in municipalities differ.

“In the metro, citizens pay rates but in district councils that are predominantly rural, citizens do not pay rates. Others would only pay for water if it is available and, in some instances, buy electricity directly from Eskom. So that municipality will not generate revenue.

“There were municipalities in a disadvantaged position because of their inability to collect revenue. You have municipalities in predominantly rural areas and their revenue generation is very poor. Some municipalities are found in semiurbanised areas where there is a capacity challenge or misuse of resources. So, we cannot blindly say all municipalities are in the same state. Some are dysfunctional because of their environments.”

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Review the financing of local government

Mashatile added it was vital to review the financing of local government.

“Some of our municipalities don’t have any revenue base. We came from an approach where we said municipalities must provide all revenue. But not all municipalities can do that,” he said.

“The suggestion is that we review how we finance local government. There will be a discussion with Treasury.”