The government needed to empower communities if it wanted to stop service delivery protests, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Tuesday.
"It is only when we empower citizens as public representatives that we can begin to stem the tide of service delivery protests," he told the SA Local Government Association's (Salga) special national conference in Midrand.
Communities needed to take ownership of their wards and the work happening in them.
Motlanthe said some protests against local government had little to do with a lack of service delivery, but were more about mismatched priorities or services not provided by local government.
"In this regard, we must always seek new and innovative ways to communicate with local communities... "
Turning local government around must involve all South Africans, he said.
"Local government is everybody's business... it is also about all of us taking responsibility and asking each other what we have done, together, to turn the tide."
This did not mean taking advantage of local government to serve one's own interests.
"... When we say local government is everybody's business, we are under no circumstances saying that local government is everybody's business by hook, crook or tender."
It meant that the youth, civil society, organised labour, all political parties and "stone-throwing service delivery protesters" must get involved, Motlanthe said.
He was speaking on the second and final day of the Salga conference.