Polokwane was well represented at the eighth Africities Summit that was hosted in Marrakech in Morocco recently, with the city’s Executive Mayor, Thembi Nkadimeng attending as member of the South African Local Government Association delegation.
Africities is the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa’s (UCLGA) flagship pan-African event. The summit gathered communities and local authorities from African countries, as well as financial institutions, civil society groups and development partners at continental and international level under the theme ‘The transition to sustainable cities and territories: The role of local and subnational governments of Africa’.
In an exclusive interview with Polokwane Observer, Nkadimeng said that Africities is a platform for organised local government on the African continent that aims to collaborate in developing policy proposals and sharing good practices for decentralisation and local governance. It is also a useful platform for thought leadership and training of African local government practitioners.
Nkadimeng formed part of various discussion groups and said that she found her participation in the groups dealing with the topics of gender, skills development and urban development and reform very informative. “Although the medium of communication was French, we had excellent interpreters and the messages came through. You listen twice – First you get the emotion from the body language and tone of the speaker and then the message from the interpreter,” she explained.
Nkadimeng said that it became clear from the discussions that the majority of cities in Africa experience the same challenges. “Skills retention is a major challenge because officials in local government are not paid enough to draw the required expertise and qualifications,” Nkadimeng reckoned.
Nkadimeng said that one of the outcomes of the summit was a resolution to establish an African local government training academy aimed at skills development. “UCLGA will lead in the development of standards in training and decide on levels, ratios and standards for ideal local government structures,” Nkadimeng added.
Story: BARRY VILJOEN