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‘Municipalities’ failure to provide services consistently is a human rights issue’ – Ramaphosa

‘Municipalities’ failure to provide services consistently is a human rights issue’ – Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the keynote address during the 2023 Human Rights Day commemoration in De Aar, Northern Cape on 21 March 2023. (Photo: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS)

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.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Human Wrongs On Human Rights Day” 

ramaphosa human rights day

President Cyril Ramaphosa makes his way to the podium to deliver the keynote address at the 2023 Human Rights Day commemoration in De Aar, Northern Cape on 21 March 2023. (Photo: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS)

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.

The good, the bad and the shocking: A visual gauge of the financial state of South Africa’s municipalities

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.

ramaphosa human rights day

President Cyril Ramaphosa greets a supporter at the 2023 Human Rights Day commemoration in De Aar, Northern Cape. (Photo: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS)

“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.

Read on Daily Maverick: ‘Mammoth effort’ and R8-billion needed to clean up SA’s stinking sewage and wastewater crisis

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.

Government confirms an alarming decline in SA tap water safety checks

“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.

ramaphosa address

Part of the crowd that heard President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address at the 2023 Human Rights Day commemoration in De Aar, Northern Cape. (Photo: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS)

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


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Heinrich Holt says:

    Not “many municipalities” Honorable President, “most municipalities”, and probably “all municipalities” where the ANC governs or governed in the last two election cycles. Get your facts correct Sir.

  • Trenton Carr says:

    I thought failing municipalities was an ANC Issue.

  • Bryan Macpherson says:

    Ramaphosa deflecting again. What he should have said is ” The ANC’s failure to provide services consistently is a human rights issue”. By his reasoning, he and his party colleagues are guilty of the most obscene human rights violations.

  • David Forbes says:

    No cause to celebrate.

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    Yes Mr President, we know; in fact we have known this for years. So when did you wake up to the human rights dimension of failed service delivery? Surely not just on Human Rights Day in the run-up to the elections next year; that must be just a coincidence of course. And where were COGTA all these years as municipalities quietly, and sometimes not so quietly imploded? Where were the COGTA ministers, including of course your great friend Nkosasana? So far so… Then your proposed solutions leave more than a little to be desired. Changes to legislation and in the support being offered will make no difference. These have been tried time and again, with municipalities being placed under provincial administration, or having high profile politicians flown in to turn them around, to absolutely no effect. No Mr President, governance is essentially about people, and while you have the same lazy, incompetent, corrupt and arrogant (the cherry on top) deployees running your municipalities, no amount of jiggling with systems will make any difference. The question is whether you have the courage to bite the bullet and make the changes that are necessary. Given your track record in relation to your mindblowingly ineffective and bloated cabinet, I am not holding my breath.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Failing Municipalities can be directly linked to racist BEE policies and the examples set by leaders like Zuma who has shown that you can get away with murder under the guise of Radical Economic Transformation – something the ANC has perfected!
    Tax and Rate payers are gatvol Mr President…or perhaps you’ve chosen not to notice this whilst you sit on your comfy couch?

  • Hermann Funk says:

    “Ramaphosa believes the measures which have been put in place will assist in turning the tide.”
    This man lives on a planet that exists only in his imagination. What a useless president.

    • Dietmar Horn says:

      A “useless President” elected by “useless people”?
      Remember, unlike other failed states, all South Africans (still) have the ability to choose how they want to be governed. In a democracy, those elected are a reflection of society.

      • Joe Irwin says:

        A level of education is required to ensure that individuals are actually capable of voting for a party that can deliver what is needed. These are not “useless people,” they simple don’t know.
        There are millions of our citizens who are not educated and will vote for a subsistence allowance, believing that it comes, not from the taxpayer, but from the ANC.

  • ricardophil1950 says:

    Mr President you are either misinformed or misinforming. Ray Nkonyeni and Ugu municipalities have been ANC run since day one (30 years). Their constituents face a critical water and sanitation disaster that has been ongoing for more than a decade. Nothing tangible has been done to resolve it. You have been here and must be aware of the seriousness of the situation.

  • Peter Smith says:

    The AG compiles a report annually and this shown that poor management has been going on for more than a decade. As with corruption, there has been no accountability and no action. Our residents are now taking legal action. Who would to join and contribute to our legal costs?

  • Stephanie Brown says:

    The situation is unacceptable, but I do think that what separates SA from many countries is the government openly acknowledging and speaking about the issues. CR could have used yesterday to remind people of the role the ANC played historically to secure human rights for the majority, but he focused on the lack of service delivery and rightly characterised it as a human rights issue. I also believe that we are where we are today because of our history which started long before 1993. We quickly forget.

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    If the ANC hadn’t insisted on cadre deployment, the imposition of metros on previuously stable and functional towns, made corruption and freedom from prosecution the norm, services probably would have been delivered.
    The usual deflection from a likable but useless president.

  • Petrus Kleinhans says:

    Now it is a human rights issue? What was this? A moment of enlightenment?

    Was it not always the right of citizens to have basic services delivered? To have clean drinkable water? To have electricity? To have navigable roads? To have functional education?

    29 years and counting. What are ordinary South African citizens counting? They are counting the enormous cost to their human dignity of allowing ANC cadres to abuse their home.

    You have working democracies. Where basic services are experienced as a given. And then you have failed states where citizens despair as services implode around them. Eventually, they swarm to foreign nations in the hope of finding a decent standard of living. ( People have been streaming to South Africa since 1994 to find basic services and a decent standard of living. This South Africa is fast disappearing.)

    We should see a graph of the progress of the ANC government over 29 years:
    Let’s see a graph of the performance of road conditions, water provision, and quality, electricity supply, and education over the last 29 years.

    There is an irrefutable downhill trend that is just accelerating. Will the citizens of South Africa stand up and put the brakes on this decline before it will take many decades to recover? Zimbabweans could run to South Africa. Where will South Africans run to? Into the sea?

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      Agree…and taxpayers and Ratepayers have rights too – the right for our hard earned taxes to be used honestly and competently not stolen by the politically connected!

  • Gerrie Pretorius says:

    cr should have said: The anc is useless and has been since its inception. Stop voting for that organisation and vote for another party that is not corrupt to the bone and understands its responsibilities towards the people of the country. A party that places all people in general above the pigs feeding at the trough. A party that will improve and uplift all communities to higher levels instead of bringing all communities down to the lowest levels, by cadre deployment and placing unqualified imbeciles to “govern”.

  • William Dryden says:

    The same old crying from the ANC that they acknowledge the wrongs of the past and promise to fix it if the people vote them in again, and as per the last 10years nothing will change. The voters must change the present government to get anything done.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    Why are municipal managers & co not fired when a municipality for two years in a row doesn’t get a clean audit and has infrastructure problems etc? In a privately owned company, this would never happen and that’s the way the municipalities should be run. Of course with special attention to the citizens.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Let us be quite clear, Mr President; our country is a highly taxed country that provides through all the taxes that are levied, taxes that eat up around 30% of the GDP. This is one of the very, very highest in the World, and far, far higher than any other middle income, developing country.

    So the issue is not a shortage of funds, it is rather the profligate, wasteful way it is expended and the off-the-scale theft by all tiers of government.

    Clean this lot up, appoint competent peoples rather than compliant, complacent and complaisant cadres, and you will be pleasantly surprised by what can be achieved.

    The rot and the issues are totally in your court to resolve, Mr President – all citizens are tired of your endless inaction, complacency, in-fighting and buck-passing.

  • Confucious Says says:

    Huh????? Like the anc investigating itself for corruption! Now what???? Is it somebody else’s fault other than the anc’s?

  • Gerrie van der Merwe says:

    For me his speech was so good. I said that this is the guy to lead SA. Then I remembered that every year he say the same but no follow up. If he was the CEO of a private company he would have been fired his first year.

  • Rory Short says:

    “Around two million indigent households receive free basic water, free basic electricity and free solid waste removal.”

    It is a short term solution, a hand out with political strings attached. A proper solution would be the existence of opportunities for gainful employment. Unfortunately the ANC seems to be more adept at destroying these than facilitating their creation.

  • Rory Short says:

    “Around two million indigent households receive free basic water, free basic electricity and free solid waste removal.”

    Great but where does the money come from?

  • Libby De Villiers says:

    Dear president compatriot, you are terribly confused. We know the bill of right, we know what our human rights are. Stop telling us.
    We also know that it is your job to make sure we have those things. You are supposed to see to it that the very many people you have appointed are able to do their jobs and make sure they do it.
    You keep telling us about your plans. Your not convincing us by repeating it over and over again. You bore us to death. Execute now. What are you waiting for?
    We cannot do it for you or your employees. That’s what we pay you for. It really is not that difficult.
    Just do it !

  • Kelly Holland says:

    Gaslighting as usual.

  • Rob Glenister says:

    Nonsense, it’s an ANC issue. Stop passing buck.

  • Ou Soutie says:

    Does this mean that ANC munici-pals won’t get new cars next year? Shame!

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