North West Premier Prof. Job Mokgoro. Photo: ANA

RUSTENBURG - The North West premier, Professor Job Mokgoro, said on Monday that even though it had been 25 years since South Africa became a democratic nation, citizens in the province were still waiting for basic services. 

"The dawn of the sixth administration of this democratically elected government of the people - exactly a quarter of a century since we triumphed over apartheid - happens at a point when our people still hunger for quality services from their own government and the better life that we promised them in 1994," said Mokgoro during his inauguration ceremony at the Mmabatho Convention Centre. 

He committed himself to serving residents, saying he had pledged his allegiance to the constitution. 

Many of the province's youth were "yearning" for work, he said, while many public servants "merely pay lip service to Batho Pele (people first) principles"

"It is regrettable that after 25 years we still have some of these ills in our midst but, under this administration, that will become a matter of the past," he said, to applause from the audience.

Mokgoro said since his appointment on June  27 last year, he was forced to travel through the province to "soothe" residents who were dissatisfied with service delivery. 

"I have neither lived at home nor lived in my office because I had to follow where the issues were. Eleven months before the end of the fifth democratically elected government, [there were unprecedented] community upheavals that were largely influenced by our people's dissatisfaction with service delivery."

He said the distance between residents and government led to poor or a complete collapse in basic services. 

"It is high time that we roll up our sleeves as elected public representatives, supported by a capable and committed public service, and work towards improving the lives of our people, the same people who demand that we are with them and not distant from them."

He said the state of municipalities in North West was worrying. "I wish to reiterate that it will be near impossible for us to deliver quality basic services with dysfunctional municipalities. We have 22 municipalities, we have placed 14 of them under administration, and in reality the party is over." 

"A functional local government makes life more bearable for citizens, for they will have basic sanitation, provision of adequate drinking water, refuse collection, maintenance of municipal roads and other infrastructure."

He said about R309 million in grants from the department of water and sanitation had been made available for the North West to provide water services in needy areas.

He also warned municipalities that they were not independent.

"We are a unitary constitution so there is no warlord of a mayor who is going to behave as if he or she is a power unto herself or himself. And therefore I and my team will be watching in detail the expenditure of drought relief funds and other funds that will be made available. We have this tendency when an allocation is made - we see a tender opportunity. No! It is an opportunity to soothe the battered hearts of our people, that is what it is about."

Mokgoro was expected to name members of the executive council (MECs) later this week.

African News Agency (ANA)