The Chairperson of the IEC, Dr Brigalia Bam,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chief Electoral Officer, Advocate Pansy Tlakula,
Leaders of political parties,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have come to the end of another important chapter in the consolidation of our young democracy.
We are proud of the fact that we have stayed on course since 1994 as a country with regards to democratic norms and systems.
We can boldly declare that our democracy has matured in only 17 years.
The regular elections that we hold prove our commitment to the clause in the Freedom Charter that says, no government can justly claim authority, unless it was based on the will of all the people.
Our people have declared their will through the ballot box, and ours is to obey and fulfil their wishes.
We end the elections process on a very high note because of the successful and efficient manner in which the elections were run, and the excitement they generated around the country.
We always trust the IEC to deliver an efficient, credible, free and fair election at all times and they have never failed us as the nation. We are also proud of the fact that this highly regarded institution is headed by women.
The success during each election proves the capability of women in leadership positions.
We thank the IEC for the special care taken to facilitate the special votes, especially that of President Nelson Mandela, the first President of a free and democratic South Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Local government elections are very important as municipalities are the main point of delivery.
The local government sphere is closest to the people, and provides services that affect the lives of the people directly. When any municipality is facing difficulties, this impacts on residents directly.
We are pleased therefore, that one of the achievements of these elections has been the fact that local government was brought into the mainstream of public discourse and national focus.
It is the first time that so much attention was focused on a municipal election and the state of local government since the advent of democracy.
We trust that the importance placed on local government during this election will eliminate any wrong perception that may have existed, that local government is the least important sphere of government.
Secondly, we are happy and encouraged by the increase in the voter turnout, which has defied predictions of voter apathy.
This is very impressive and indicates that South Africans understand the crucial role they must play in determining who governs them and how they govern.
Our people not only participated by coming out in greater numbers than before, but they also determined the agenda of this election.
The people identified service delivery as an issue. They articulated this in various community meetings and also through protest action in some areas, long before the elections.
They decided that this election would be about basic services such as water, electricity, housing, sanitation, roads and functional refuse removal amongst others.
It came down to bread and butter issues as any municipal election should.
This indicates how much our citizens, especially the new voters, understand democracy, and how much they are able to relate their votes to their own conditions. They want the vote to work for them to improve their lives.
We congratulate the South African population for playing such an active role in strengthening democracy.
This activism must not stop, it must translate to working with government at all levels to bring about a better life.
The next step is for people to use their hard won right to vote to influence governance by participating in ward committees, community safety forums, school governing bodies and other structures.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Now that the fierce campaigning and competition for votes has ended, it is time for political parties to begin working together.
The South African people, especially the poor and the workers, must be the real winners of the 2011 local government elections. There must be visible change in their living conditions.
Irrespective of who controls a municipality, parties must put aside their differences and join hands to improve the lives of all our citizens. We must now put our country and its people first.
From the side of national government, the elections have proved to us that our emphasis on improving monitoring and evaluation is correct and should be intensified.
We have made local government a standing item on the agenda of Cabinet so that we can monitor performance from a national level on a regular basis.
In addition, the President will engage Premiers on how to improve the monitoring of the performance of municipalities, in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution.
Once the municipalities are settled and the transition to new administrations is complete, we have to begin the implementation of the local government delivery agreement in earnest with the new leadership.
The agreement, based on our Local Government Turnaround Strategy, was finalised after a thorough process of discussion and negotiation amongst the three spheres of government.
The main thrust of the agreement is to achieve a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system.
The outcome has a number of key pillars.
One of them is the recognition that municipalities are not the same. They are different in terms of their capacities, their revenue base, population size, size of the economy and their broader social context.
When supporting municipalities to improve performance, national government will take this into account and not adopt a "one size fits all” approach which does not work.
Other key pillars include strengthening the administrative and financial capability of municipalities to ensure greater transparency, fighting corruption, promoting good financial management and strengthening community participation.
The delivery agreement also emphasises the need to ensure all critical positions are filled by competent and qualified individuals.
This will enable us to achieve our delivery targets as government.
We are ready to begin working with provincial and local government to bring about real meaningful change, as called upon by our people during this election.
Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate our people for the peaceful nature of the election.
Other than a few isolated incidents, political parties were able to campaign freely in areas of their choice, even in areas which had been problematic in the past.
Free political activity is an important barometer of political maturity and political tolerance in any society.
We also congratulate all political parties and all leaders for their hard work during the past few weeks. The spirited nature of the campaigns demonstrated the vibrancy of our democracy.
We extend our best wishes to all who have gained the honour and privilege of serving our people as councillors.
From this moment on the lives of our new councillors will change. You have to accept that you are a servant of the people and that you account to all the people in your ward.
You are accountable to people who voted for you and those who did not vote for you because councillors must serve all the South African people equally.
We trust that councillors will be able to ensure that every citizen knows how they can be contacted, and that they will all know the service delivery needs of their communities. We must make local government work better.
Councillors have lot of work to do, and we must all support them.
Fellow South Africans,
The elections are over, and there is a lot of work to be done.
Let us get back to work.
Working together we will continue to do more.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency