The United Nations Resident Coordinator in South Africa, Nardos Bekele-Thomas, today led a team of heads of UN agencies on a courtesy call on the new Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Ms. Bekele-Thomas congratulated the minister on her new appointment, adding that the UN was ready to receive guidance and direction on potential areas of cooperation with the government within the spirit of South Africa’s National Development Plan and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
In her remarks, Minister Dlamini-Zuma emphasized the prevailing challenge of limited access to basic services such as water and sanitation in rural areas and townships, assistance with utilizing land along with agrarian reform, and the empowering of local governments to deliver services and to improve infrastructure as the top priority areas for her ministry. She noted with concern the plight of many young South Africans who are facing high levels of unemployment and lack entrepreneurial skills that could provide them with decent livelihoods.
Ms. Dlamini-Zuma urged the UN to identify areas it could support people in rural areas and townships particularly in the field of agriculture and food production. She further called on the organization to explore international best practices and adopt lessons learned from integrated approaches to rural development that could be applied in South Africa.
Noting that local governments were the centres of gravity, the minister noted that all challenges find expression within local communities and therefore solutions should reflect this reality. She also highlighted gender as a cross-cutting issue and the need to strengthen development planning at the local government level.
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