Interaction between the BRICS member countries is helping South Africa to address problems such as rapid urbanisation, poverty and underdevelopment in an “elegant” manner. This was said by Lechesa Tsenoli, National Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Durban today. Minister Tsenoli was addressing delegates at the 2nd BRICS Urbanisation Forum and 3rd Friendship Cities in Local Government Cooperation Forum held at the Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
Minister Tsenoli said “This gathering of the 2nd Urbanisation Forum and 3rd Friendship Cities and Local Government Cooperation Forum takes place against the background of two important events in South Africa. Many people thought when apartheid legislations, particularly influx control were abolished, people from rural areas would flock to the urban areas in large numbers. This has not happened because the government has been providing basic services, such as electricity, water and roads to where the people are, in the rural areas through the presidential infrastructure provision programme”.
The Minister said that as South Africa is approaching 20 years of freedom, and that celebrating this freedom should include taking stock of “what have been done well and what we have not done well over these 20 years”. He also gave strategic effect to the objectives and goals set out in 1994, where the government identified its priorities such as speeding up growth and transforming the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods, a massive programme to build economic and social infrastructure, a comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform and food security, strengthening the skills and human resource base through education, and improving the health of all South Africans.
eThekwini is the official representative of South African Local Government in the Forum, hence the strong support for the ongoing dialogue that SALGA has initiated within the Local Government sector to ensure that the country rallies behind and supports South African cities as national assets through a coherent Integrated Urban Development Framework. The Minister also said this is the reason the 3rd Friendship Cities and Local Government Forum is being hosted side-by-side with the BRICS Urbanisation Forum. SALGA National Members Assembly is also facilitating dialogue in Cape Town at the same time.
The Minister stressed the necessity of managing social injustices, exclusion and inequality in an environmentally responsible manner, such that will ensure sustainable livelihoods for urban residents for decades and centuries to come.
“While we support and grow the towns and cities, it is imperative that we recognise the inter-dependencies between urban and rural areas. Urban areas in South Africa rely on rural areas for food and primary industries that make significant contributions to the urban and national economies”.
One of the agreements of the March 2013 Delhi Summit was that the ‘Green BRICS’ agenda should contain the sub-theme of sustainable urbanization, and urged cooperation in line with the resolutions of Rio + 20, and COP 17 on sustainable development. At that time the summit adopted a statement of commitment aimed among others at facilitating shared prosperity and the promotion of mutual cooperation.
The Friendship Cities and Local Government Forum provides a platform to ensure that the vision of partnership and cooperation between the five-emerging economies becomes a reality, and benefits the local people. The forum must serve as a vehicle for strengthening the partnership through the exchange of information, best practices and peer-learning among cities, in order to improve the functioning of the cities themselves.
Issued by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.