Medium Term Strategic Framework
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Responsive, accountable, effective and efficient developmental local government system

National Development Plan 2030 vision and trajectory

The National Development Plan (NDP) envisages that by 2030 South Africa will be a state that is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role. In broad terms such a state intervenes to support and guide development in such a way that benefits accrue across society, with particular emphasis on the poor. Drawing from the NDP chapter on a Capable and Developmental State, by 2030 we will have a developmental state that is accountable, focused on citizen’s priorities, and capable of delivering high-quality services consistently and sustainably through cooperative governance and participatory democracy. As depicted in the White Paper on Local Government, developmental local government is “local government committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs and improve the quality of their lives” . In this scenario, local government is at the forefront of participatory democracy, involving citizens in meaningful deliberations regarding governance and development; is responsive to citizens’ priorities, and enjoys high levels of trust and credibility amongst the public; whose employees are skilled, competent and committed to delivering quality services; is able to cost-effectively increase the quantity and quality of services and operates within a supportive and empowering intergovernmental system. The NDP however, cautions that such a developmental state cannot materialise by decree, nor can it be legislated or waved into existence by declarations. It has to be consciously built and sustained. Local government is at the centre of development, and to achieve the aspiration of a transformed and effective local government system will require strong leadership through a clear and consistent, long-term strategy.

Constraints and strategic approach

In order to achieve the above vision a number of immediate barriers, constraints and challenges need to be addressed. More than R1 billion per annum is spent on municipal support and capacity building. There are large numbers of credible municipal strategies, policies, guidelines and programmes available to facilitate support, monitoring and interventions within the local sphere. In addition, municipalities are governed through a complex yet robust legislative and regulatory framework. Despite all of this, in a number of instances, municipal performance is far from optimal. Additionally, whilst the metro municipalities have made significant progress in addressing service delivery backlogs, even these advances are obscured by overwhelming challenges related to the fast pace of urbanisation and in-migration.Municipalities operate in a complex environment and municipal performance is impacted at four levels: the individual, institutional, environmental and macro-socio-economic.

The priority issues within each of the four levels that are negatively impacting on municipal performance are reflected in the table below

Institutional Capacity

  • Weak political leadership
  • Technical skills gaps and lack of relevant competencies
  • Weak political leadership
  • Technical skills gaps and lack of relevant competencies
  • High staff turnover and vacancy levels
  • Weak understanding of policies
  • Political deployments not always competent appointments
  • Lack of career progression
  • Poor attitudes & values of staff
  • Lack of professionalism & regulation thereof by professional bodies & government
  • Corruption at all levels with no consequences
  • Unclear administrative/political interface
  • Weak strategy – focus on compliance
  • Weak financial management and low budget spend
  • Weak council decisions, often contrary to technical advice
  • Organisational instability, including review of S 57 contracts linked to political term of office
  • Lack of oversight and accountability
  • Lack of legal compliance or regulatory support
  • Weak municipal systems

Enabling Environment

  • Lack of central co-ordination support, information and M&E
  • Financial viability of municipalities
  • Bulk infrastructure gaps
  • Lack of clarity re decentralisation of powers and functions and role of the districts
  • Role of DCOG unclear
  • Lack of planning alignment amongst the 3 spheres – IDP not taken seriously by other spheres
  • Local government financing system, including Equitable Share, needs to be reviewed
  • Unstable political environment
  • Inconsistent, incoherent and complex local government legislative environment
  • Lack of customised support to municipalities, and support focused on compliance

Macro Context

  • Huge pressures of poverty, unemployment and inequality
  • Huge service delivery backlogs
  • Weak public participation
  • Huge social issues, such as crime, drug abuse, gender-based violence
  • Weak revenue base of municipalities with low levels of affordability
  • Political dynamics, including coalitions resulting in inertia
  • Pressures of in-migration and urbanisation
  • Weak education system
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