Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa urged councillors and mayors across the country to take the lead in the fight against HIV in order to realise government’s goal of defeating the pandemic by 2030.
Speaking at the SA Local Government Association (Salga) conference in Sandton on Tuesday‚ Ramaphosa said: “It is at municipal level where there has to be a deliberate effort and direct action that we need to see in the progress that we should make in turning the tide of HIV.
“It is in those municipalities that have credible functioning local Aids councils where our treatment and prevention programmes have the greatest chance of success.”
Ramaphosa is the chairperson of the SA National Aids Council‚ which brings together all role players in the fight against HIV/Aids.
He said the council has structures in the provinces‚ which have to be chaired by premiers‚ and at local government‚ the mayors should lead.
“It is at this level in the municipalities where the mayor takes the lead in the fight against HIV and TB‚ where we are able to make the greatest difference in the lives of our people‚” Ramaphosa said.
“Nationally we have made significant progress in bringing together all stakeholders to implement the national strategic plan [on Aids and TB]. The functioning of provincial structures has improved significantly under the leadership of respective premiers. Yet‚ if we are to have any chance to succeed‚ the local aids councils need to function effectively and need to be led from the front by our mayors.”
Salga is also using the conference to celebrate 20 years of local government in the country.
Ramaphosa urged councillors to change the common perception that officials are “chowing people’s money”.
“We should change that narrative. You are the true representatives of our people‚ and are here to serve the people of South Africa where it matters most. We also want councillors that are capable who can interpret the finance minister’s budget. We want councillors who will know that the local economy contributes to the provincial economy‚ into the national economy.
“Our councillors must be honest‚ trustworthy and uphold the highest standards of ethical behaviour. No councillor must be regarded as chowing people’s money. I would like to see that language obliterated from our language.”
He commended Salga on the journey it has travelled over the past two decades‚ from a fragmented‚ divided system inherited from apartheid to a unified system seeking to serve the interests of the people.