Zuma says 23 areas merit priority relief
President Jacob Zuma says SA has 23 district municipalities that the government has prioritised for development.
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma says SA has 23 district municipalities that the government has prioritised for development because of extreme poverty and underdevelopment.
Some of these communities had been plagued by civil protests over service delivery since his administration took over.
There had been questions whether these priority areas, some of which were identified for development under former president Thabo Mbeki’s administration, would continue to receive state intervention.
In a written response to the National Council of Provinces last week, Mr Zuma acknowledged that there were “funding challenges” within the Rural Development Programme and that insufficient co-ordination across government spheres was frustrating efforts to improve these communities. However, various projects focusing on enterprise development, basic services and agricultural development were in varied stages of implementation, said Mr Zuma.
The provision of social and economic infrastructure in these municipalities, which were experiencing the largest backlogs, was one of the strategic projects contained in the infrastructure development plan adopted by the Cabinet and Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Commission.
Mr Zuma said the Cabinet had adopted various action plans in July last year to further improve service delivery in these prioritised districts, with various departments instructed to ensure co-ordination and service delivery of the agreed targets.
Prince Muntukaphiwana Zulu, of the Inkatha Freedom Party, asked about progress in the presidential nodal zones (established under Mr Mbeki) which were identified for poverty alleviation, including districts in KwaZuluNatal, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and North West.
Mr Zuma said that with the reconfiguration of government departments in 2009, the nodal areas and related programmes (such as the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy and the War on Poverty Programme) were integrated into the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme.
Studies by the Department of Co-operative Governance and the Department of Social Development have found that poverty levels were declining, and there were improvements in infrastructure service delivery indicating an increase in access to basic services, he said.
TE Chaane, African National Congress North West representative, asked Mr Zuma whether the Cabinet had discussed departments that owed money to municipalities for services and infrastructure. Mr Zuma said he had instructed co-operative governance and traditional affairs to investigate this matter.