President Jacob Zuma is expected to address the first day of the four-day South African Local Government Association (Salga) national conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, today.
Here, policy changes proposed by Salga leadership and other stakeholders will be deliberated.
One of the radical changes is for a policy that would give municipalities the authority to buy power from different suppliers and also allow them to generate their own electricity.
The proposals, submitted for discussion by the association’s national executive committee at the elective conference, call for radical policy review that will inspire service delivery by municipalities.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) held a pre-conference meeting in Durban this week, where it reflected on the successes and challenges over the last 16 years of local democracy.
The elective conference, held every five years, is attended by senior decision-makers such as mayors, speakers, municipal managers, chief financial officers and other national and international guests.
More than 1 500 delegates from municipalities, national and provincial government, academic institutions, partners and stakeholders within the local government sector and business are also expected at the gathering.
The meeting comes soon after the election of former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau as president of the Bogota, Columbia-based United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).
Tau, who took over from former Bloemfontein mayor Thabo Manyoni, is expected to be confirmed as Salga national chairperson.
Salga is an autonomous constitutional association of municipalities that acts as representative of local government. The association interfaces with parliament, the national council of provinces, Cabinet and provincial legislatures.
This week, Salga NEC said policy must inspire service delivery through protecting and consolidating the successes of local government.
They asked for removal of policies and systems that compromise good quality services. Also to be discussed is the urgent need for sustainable and inclusive economic growth to enable municipalities to influence job creation, achievement of financial vitality and fiscal equity of local government.
The leadership suggested “game changing energy reforms” in how municipalities dealt with electricity, and having a sustainable model for municipal revenue that was not overly dependent on electricity revenue.
“Municipalities are advocating for policy reviews to ensure they can buy power from a range of suppliers and can generate their own electricity,” Salga said.
Salga said Tau’s election as UCLG president presented an opportunity to place local government at the centre of a changing world.