Policy Process on the System of Provincial and Local Government

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					        Policy Process on the System of Provincial and Local Government

      A Presentation on the Background to Policy Questions, Process and Participation1
                               Ms Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela,
                      Director-General: Provincial & Local Government
                                  Pretoria, 31st July 2007


Decentralized local government has played a valuable role in supporting the
implementation of national and provincial programmes and in discharging its own
assigned duties. But there are policy aspects that have to be improved.

At a provincial level, many provinces have displayed the ability and potential to
perform a valuable and innovative role in discharging their powers and functions,
and mediating a positive relationship between national and local government.
However, challenges remain.

National government will need to re-assess its support role to provinces and
municipalities and some of the functions that it currently discharges, as they
relate to provincial and local government.


The advent of democracy in 1994 saw South Africa emerge as “one, sovereign,
democratic state” and being “constituted as national, provincial and local spheres
of government which are distinctive, interdependent and interrelated”. The
current governance model, according to the Constitution (1996) is premised on
the principles of cooperative government, even though each sphere of
government has distinctive functional responsibilities.

Rationale for policy process

Local government underwent a lengthy process of transition that eventually
resulted in the establishment of the new system of local government. Provincial
government, by contrast, was established as a result of a negotiated settlement.
Whilst the Constitution created the provincial sphere of government, with

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particular powers and functions, there was no coherent policy or framework to
guide its evolution.

It is within this context that Cabinet mandated the Department of Provincial and
Local Government to initiate a process of developing a White Paper on Provincial
Government and reviewing the White Paper on Local Government.

This review process is by no means an indication of failure by any of the spheres
of government nor does it question their existence. Many countries, within the
developed and developing world, undertake similar processes in order to balance
the governance systems with the demands of the electorate. Notwithstanding the
review process, our Government has, in the past 13 years as a fledgling
democracy, achieved significant successes, particularly with regard to the
provision of basic services to the majority of the previously deprived
communities. Having regard to the above, government now seeks to refine this
system so that it can accelerate the pace and quality of development to higher

Also, we have learnt useful lessons from specific programmes and interventions,
such as Project Consolidate in 2004. At that point, we indicated that our
interventions are two-fold. Firstly, we continue to engage the whole of
government, the private sector and other development agencies to develop the
capacity of municipalities to perform their mandate. We also indicated that, in
addition to this, we will undertake a process of refining policy, fiscal and
institutional matters to enable the consolidation of the local government system in
the medium to long-term.

Improving Local Government

Since the introduction of the local system of government in 2000, many pieces of
local government legislation, guided by the Constitution (1996) and the White
Paper on Local Government (1998), were developed, such as :-
  Municipal Demarcation Act (1998)
  Municipal Structures Act (1998)
  Municipal Systems Act (2000)
  Disaster Management Act (2002)
  Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (2003)
  Municipal Finance Management Act (2003)
  Municipal Property Rates Act (2004)
  Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act (2005)

There is no doubt that some in-roads have been made by government in the fight
against poverty. For example, with regard to basic local services, the following
achievements have been recorded:

   Access to water: 59% of households had access to water in 1994, and this
    has increased to 86% in 2007.
   Access to sanitation: The access to sanitation increased from 48% of
    households in 1999 to 73% in 2007.
   Access to electricity: In 1994, 30% of households in South Africa had access
    to electricity and, in 2006 this increased to 73%.
   Housing: Since 1994 to 2007, 2,35 million housing units were completed.

Some of the emerging policy questions and proposals focus on the following:

   Community involvement, improvement in the quality of local democracy,
    municipal responsiveness and accountability
   Meaningful partnerships with community organizations, labour organizations,
    and the private sector
   Functional and structural challenges of the 3 categories of municipalities
    (Metros, Districts & Locals)
   The importance of the environment in the context of sustainable development
   Financial and revenue generation
   Local Economic Development

Provincial Government

Given that local democracy has generated new opportunities for more responsive
and efficient governance, a clear and coherent framework is critical. Some of the
emerging policy questions and proposals, therefore, focus on:

   The role of the provincial sphere (purpose, structure and functions, number,
    sources of funding)
   Legislative functions, if any
   Potential synergies within and between geographical spaces/ spheres that
    could result in improved developmental imperatives.

National Government

As we may all know, the economic outlook for the country is positive, with the
real GDP growth showing an increase from 3.12% (2003) to 5% (2006), and
forecasted to reach 5.4% in 2009. The national efforts to also share this growth
are espoused by the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative-South Africa
(ASGI-SA). Some of the emerging policy questions and proposals are focused
 Ensuring effective intergovernmental relations for improved development
 Authority and accountability mechanisms

Reviewing Powers and Functions

Some of the emerging questions and policy proposals in this area of focus on
powers and functions allocated to the three spheres of government are based on:

   The appropriate location of functional responsibilities between spheres
   An evaluation of the concurrency principle and its’ appropriateness

Improving Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation

Some of the emerging questions and policy proposals focus on:

   Integrating plans and frameworks to achieve the national vision (National
    Spatial Development Perspective, Provincial Growth & Development
    Strategy, Integrated Development Plan)
   Effective contribution of Provincial Growth & Development Strategies to
    economic growth and social development
   Addressing semi-urban and rural characteristics of municipal areas
   Coordinating, monitoring and evaluation of service delivery and development

Policy Process

Following public inputs from August until 31 October, and further extensive
research, a Green Paper on Provincial Government and a discussion document
on Local Government will be published by December 2007. After the Green
Paper has been commented on and inputs received from the public, work will
commence on the final White Paper by mid 2008.

In conclusion, we call on all sectors of society to participate and continue to
engage in these processes of development. This policy process will be enriched
by the benefit of experience held by the South African people.


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