HUMAN RIGHTS DAY ADDRESS
‘Municipalities’ failure to provide services consistently is a human rights issue’ – Ramaphosa
In his Human Rights Day speech on Tuesday afternoon, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged lapses in service delivery, which he said was a human rights issue.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his Human Rights Day message in De Aar, Northern Cape, where he highlighted several areas the government needed to work on, including the country’s ailing municipalities.
Ramaphosa was flanked by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul and Free State premier Mxolisi Dukwana.
“In some municipalities, the provision of these services is unreliable. There are times when water is not provided or is of poor quality, or when refuse is not collected. The failure to provide adequate services consistently is a human rights issue. That is why we are working to improve the functioning of local government, which carries the greatest responsibility for the provision of these services,” he said.
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Recent findings by Auditor-General Tsakane Maluleke have shown rampant corruption and mismanagement in many municipalities, resulting in a lack of funds and increasingly poor service delivery.
The deterioration of municipalities has been exacerbated by often unstable coalitions which have led to a constant change of leadership.
However, Ramaphosa believes the measures which have been put in place will assist in turning the tide.
“Through changes to legislation, and support programmes, we are working to improve the capacity of public representatives and officials and direct more resources towards maintaining and upgrading local infrastructure.
“Government recently reintroduced what are known as the ‘Green Drop’ and ‘Blue Drop’ reports, which detail the state of water provision in municipalities throughout the country. On the basis of these reports, we are undertaking interventions to fix the problems,” he said.
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The President also spoke of water infrastructure projects that were under way to improve the security of supply, and the provision of social grants as a means of income for about a quarter of households.
“According to Statistics South Africa, access to water and sanitation, electricity, housing and other services like waste removal has increased steadily over the last three decades. Around two million indigent households receive free basic water, free basic electricity and free solid waste removal.
“Yet, despite this progress, there are still many people who do not have access to all of these services. Many people live in informal settlements without adequate housing, water or sanitation.
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“To relieve the pressure on poor households during Covid, the government introduced the special R350 grant. While this grant has been extended to the end of March 2024, work is underway to provide basic income support for the most vulnerable, within the country’s fiscal constraints,” he said.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the first bill of rights in South Africa’s history, and the theme of the celebration was “Consolidating and Sustaining Human Rights Culture into the Future”.
“Today… we celebrate the great progress we have made as a nation in building a democracy that is founded on equal human rights for all people. It is a day on which we remember and pay tribute to the many people who fought for these rights and for the great sacrifices that they made.
“It is also a day on which we look to the future. We reaffirm our pledge not only to safeguard and uphold these rights at all times, but to strive to ensure that all people may exercise these rights to their fullest,” said Ramaphosa. DM