SA AND PALESTINIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRENGTHEN TIES
By: Rumana Akoob
South Africa and Palestine have agreed to strengthen cooperation in local government and municipal development.
The decision was made at the fourth Congress of the United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) being held in Rabat, Morocco, from 1 to 4 October 2013.
The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) of South Africa, Andries Nel, and the Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) Thabo Manyoi, met a Palestinian delegation. This was led by Minister of Local Government for Palestine, Dr Said Alkoni and the Chairperson of the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA), Ghassan Shakaa.
Both countries undertook to strengthen cooperation in many developing areas. These include legal frameworks for local governance, urban and strategic development planning, restructuring of local governments, strengthening community participation in local government, municipal engineering and planning and municipal elections.
The delegations had emphasised that similar historical experiences laid a strong foundation for learning from each other. They called on the various municipalities present to forge partnerships aimed at improving service delivery to the people.
Deputy Minister Nel, in his opening remarks, referred to a statement made recently by President Jacob Zuma at the recently ended 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The President called upon the United Nations to be at the forefront of ensuring Palestinian self-determination.
He emphasised that while South Africa prepares to celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy its struggle is not complete until the people of Palestine enjoy their right to self-determination.
Minister Alkoni stressed, “The development of the people of Palestine required both developmental as well as political interventions as the non-resolution of political issues would continue to undermine developmental efforts.”
The UCLG aims are to defend and promote democracy, to encourage networking among cities and experts through dialog. This is the forth UCLG with the first being held in Paris in 2004.