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Ten South African women councillors are visiting British local authorities this week in a mentoring scheme. ...
Ten South African women councillors are visiting British local authorities this week in a mentoring scheme.

Organised by Local Authority Action for Southern Africa (LAACTSA) and the South African High Commission, the scheme allocates councillors from the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West, and the Western Cape to volunteer authorities in the UK to share best practice.

Wakefield MDC leader Peter Box said:

'We hope that they enjoy the proactive programme we have organised for their visit, which coincides with the 10th anniversary of the new democracy in South Africa.'

At Camden LBC, the visitors saw a range of local authority activity spanning the work of street wardens to dealing with complaints and deputations from the public, the running of council meetings, equalities, finance and procurement.

Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, speaker at Johannesburg City Council said: 'We are very excited to have been invited and have the chance to learn from and exchange experience with our British counterparts. We deal with many similar issues to those in Camden, such as housing, local economic development, safety and employment and we want to bridge the gap between the most affluent and the poorest. Around 30 per cent of councillors in South Africa are female and we are keen to see equal representation.'

Camden councillor Peter Brayshaw, vice chair of LAACTSA, said: 'This visit is already enabling Camden and South African councillors to learn from each other: we look forward to building on the visit to set up tangible further projects of mutual benefit.'

June Joyce, one of the Gateshead MBC mentors, said: 'We are delighted to have been one of the five local authorities in the UK to take part in this pilot scheme. We definitely have a lot to learn about what life is like in rural areas of South Africa, and particularly how a lot of the regeneration projects going on in Gateshead

are similar to developments in South African provinces.'

Background Information: Local Authority Action for Southern Africa (LAACTSA)

LAACTSA is the successor organisation to Local Authorities Against Apartheid which Wakefield Council was a member of throughout the late 1980's and early 1990's. After the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1994 Wakefield, along with other local authorities, supported the establishment of LAACTSA which turned its attention to help overcome the legacies of Apartheid and to support democracy and development throughout the whole Southern African region. 60 UK councils are affiliated to LAACTSA, plus the main local government trade unions.

The main aims of LAACTSA are:

- To develop knowledge and understanding about the current situation in both urban and rural Southern Africa.

- To support the on-going development of non-racial and democratic local government activities in Southern Africa.

- To support the on-going economic sustainability of Southern Africa through practical skills exchanges of best practice and business models.

- To promote friendship and practical co-operation between local authorities and local communities (including educational bodies) in Britain and Southern Africa.

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