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MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu on Coronavirus COVID-19

15 Nov 2020

“COVID-19 would have been stronger, deadlier without Operation Sukuma Sakhe,” says MEC Simelane-Zulu; also hails government’s newly-launched District Development Model (DDM) as a stronger, more effective service delivery approach

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says the impact of COVID – 19 in the province would have been greater, with many more infections and deaths, had it not been for the community structural organisation brought about by Government’s flagship Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) programme.

The MEC was speaking at Amajuba District recently, during the launch of the District Development Model (DDM). The DDM may be described as an even more enhanced integrated service delivery model derived from the OSS programme.

Speaking alongside Minister of Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, and the district and local political leadership of Amajuba yesterday, MEC Simelane-Zulu said: “OSS really assisted us when it comes to our response to COVID – 19. When COVID – 19 came, we suddenly had to have structures on the ground at municipal and district levels. But because we were already organised, through OSS, it was very easy for us to get the structures to work together.

That is why I believe, in this province, we were able to reduce the numbers. Had we not had the kind of co-operation that we had as a province, we wouldn’t have been able to curb it at that level. Our infections and deaths would have been even much higher.

“For instance, OSS assisted us to deal with the funerals, where our people were refusing to deal with the COVID – 19 protocols. People would not adhere to social distancing. They would not wear masks. They were hugging each other…and doing all of these things. But through Operation Sukuma Sakhe, we were able to engage communities… through amakhosi, local leaders, and civil society.

“We were able to disseminate information better, and foster some behavioural change. This kind of working together is what we believe is going to be a solution in changing the lives of our people. And that is going to be the case with the District Development Model going forward as well.”

The District Development Model was initiated by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his Budget Speech in 2019. Delivering his 2019 Presidency Budget Speech (2019), President Ramaphosa identified Government’s “pattern of operating in silos” as a challenge, which led to “to lack of coherence in planning and implementation and has made monitoring and oversight of government’s programme difficult”.

In simple terms, through the District Development Model, Government is effectively correcting this disjuncture, and narrowing the distance between itself and the people it serves.

Under the DDM, all three spheres of government co-ordinate and integrate their development plans and budgets, and see a higher level of public participation in socio-economic development at a local level.

The overall defined objectives of the District Development Model therefore seek to:

  • Bring about service delivery that will be more practical, achievable, implementable, measurable and clearly aligned to the key priorities of the government;
  • Change the face of rural and urban landscapes by bridging the gap between urban and rural development, with a deliberate emphasis on local economic development;
  • Ensure that all three spheres of government operate in unison thus enabling coherent, seamless and sustainable service delivery and development with integrated impact on the quality of life and quality of living spaces at municipal level;
  • Coordinate a government response to challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality - particularly amongst women, youth and people living with disabilities;
  • Ensure inclusivity by through budgeting that is based on the needs and aspirations of our people and communities at a local level;
  • Foster a practical intergovernmental relations mechanism to plan, budget and implement jointly in order to provide a coherent government for the people in the Republic; (solve silo’s, duplication and fragmentation) maximise impact and align plans and resources at our disposal through the development of a “One District, One Plan and One Budget” approach;
  • Build government capacity to support to municipalities;
  • Strengthen monitoring and evaluation at district and local levels; and
  • Exercise oversight over budgets and projects in an accountable and transparent manner.

Expanding on the District Development Model and how it works, Minister Nxesi said: “The management of the DDM process is undertaken by two key committees. At the level of the District or Metro Hub, the two committees will be responsible for the management of the One Plan process.

The One Plan political committee provides political leadership, oversight, and support to the hubs. The District Metro Co-Ordination Steering Committee will oversee the technical work of the district.

In essence, these committees will drive the work of the district, including the inter-governmental co-operation and collaboration required to develop the joint hubs. A council of advisors will assess all the districts.”

MEC Simelane-Zulu also accompanied Minister Nxesi to various community projects, including fresh produce and cattle farming operations at Waaihoek, Emadlangeni.

They also launched a healthy lifestyle programme at St Anthony’s Child and Youth Care Centre in Blaaubosch, Newcastle. At the latter venue, both leaders distributed sporting kit and other equipment – much to the excitement of the young recipients.

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