Gauteng is a uniquely placed province; in size, it’s the smallest, but it’s the biggest when it comes to economic activity.
This juxtaposition requires astute leadership that is able to seamlessly adapt to the changing demands of the inhabitants of the province.
Migration into the province has been rampant, dating back to the days of migrant labourers, when gold mining was at its peak. However, it continues today as many South Africans leave their homes in order to settle into what is still perceived as the land of abundant opportunities and success.
This puts a strain on the province’s resources and hampers service delivery rates, to the detriment of its people.
Local municipalities work tirelessly under the guidance and leadership of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) to ensure that the needs of the citizens are met. Given the autonomy of local municipalities, working towards a common provincial goal offers its fair share of challenges.
As the department espouses the Back to Basics principles, it illustrates its commitment as the engine that runs in all local municipalities.
But the case of Gauteng requires a more sophisticated collaborative effort, as the province is home to three metropolitan municipalities that each present their own set of challenges. Other provinces that are far larger and compete with Gauteng for economic dominance have only one metro.
The department is therefore required to entice the metros and other local municipalities into adopting strategies that will allow for greater communication and facilitate integrated planning processes for a more effective dispersing of resources. It is mandated to play a leading role in all service delivery aspects, as it is the only government department that is the bridge between national, provincial and local imperatives.
The Gauteng City Region has been created to compete with global cities such as London and other First World cities. It therefore acts as the economic heartland of the country and requires special attention in dealing with infrastructure development as well as spatial planning.
The only city region in the country is an indication of the province’s pioneer-driven status and caters to surrounding towns that fall outside the province’s boundaries.
Gauteng has done a commendable job in pioneering projects that are geared at improving the lives of ordinary South Africans, while creating a region that is a formidable competitor in the African continent while setting sights on the global scale and making inroads in that regard.
It is imperative at all times to view advancement beyond the borders of the country and the continent, and to strive to place development on a par with international counterparts.
As a key role-player in the development and adoption of integrated development plans, infrastructure/social grants and MIG projects, Cogta plays an integral role in ensuring that Gauteng municipalities develop, adopt and implement programmes beneficial to its communities. This, therefore, requires Cogta to play a facilitating role to ensure services are delivered to those who need them most.
A holistic approach is therefore called for. Collaboration between Cogta, municipalities in the city region and other stakeholders would allow for planning processes that do not favour one municipality over another.
Uhuru Moiloa is the MEC for Human Settlements and Co-operative Governance in Gauteng