Local Government Bulletin
This Bulletin deals with the looming National Treasury deadline for municipal officials to obtain critical skills and competencies. It assesses progress on this, using the Municipal Demarcation Board's 2012 capacity assessment. It also looks at the Municipal Capacity Building initiatives as proposed by the National Development Plan-vision 2030. It then looks at the 2012 Census report, a new local government equitable share formula and a barometer of municipal audit outcomes for the past five years.
Service delivery protests are becoming more frequent, widespread and violent. These are some of the findings of the MLGI Service Delivery Protest Barometer. This edition of the Bulletin contains a summary of some of the key trends contained in the Barometer. It also looks at the implications of the Draft Municipal Financial Misconduct Regulations. Other features include a report on a roundtable on law reform in planning which discussed some of the latest developments in planning, including SPLUMB, which is currently before parliament. A summary of the Carolina case examines the right of access to water and the intergovernmental relations which come into play in the delivery of water.
A Bulletin dealing with National Treasury's competency regulations, land use planning, disconnections, the review of the equitable share and a summary of the judgment in Allen Paulse v Oudtshoorn.
The May Local Government Bulletin includes articles on mapping the path to good governance and service delivery; aspects to the AU Charter; Government's plan towards a new infrastructure building campaign; the 2030 vision of the National Development Plan, the ANC's policy discussion document on provincial and local government and the campaign of the Traditional Courts Bill.
The local government election was the high-water mark of the year. Against all predictions, voter turnout was the highest yet for any local election. Political parties showed that they could fight hard campaigns without disrespecting each other, the electorate or the Constitution.
The Brazilian Presidency recently convened an international seminar to discuss the creation of municipalities. Experts from South Africa and India, as key members of the BRICS alliance (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) were invited to share their experiences with Brazilian parliamentarians, government officials, representatives of local government and academics.
The last issue of the Local Government Bulletin highlighted some key battlegrounds in the 2011 local elections. This issue looks at the aftermath.
The upcoming local government elections are a critical milestone for democracy in South Africa. Perhaps for the first time, there will be real choice and in quite a number of municipalities, it will be a close call. This Bulletin highlights the provinces and regions that will be watched closely.
Community protests, often accompanied by violence, remain the order of the day. These protests are a medium through which local residents demonstrate their frustration. They ‘invent’ spaces in which they can voice their discontent, despite the fact that they are ‘invited’ to spaces where they can make their views heard. One such ‘invited’ space is the voting booth: next year, voters have an opportunity to hold their municipal councillors to account.
The ‘toilet war’ which was recently waged in the City of Cape Town has raised a number of important issues that not only affect the parties to the dispute but raise vital questions for local government across the board. On pages 5–7, we try to trace the facts that gave rise to this dispute and which attracted both local and international media attention. While much of this attention has been focussed on the political nuances of the dispute, there are some key lessons for municipalities which face similar challenges.
The turnaround strategy has its first full budget, and, according to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the choir is now singing from the same hymnal. There are strong points in the strategy, but the Minister faces at least three big dilemmas. The first is how to build a capable professional municipal administration in the country when municipal skills are in short supply and when there are many vested interests. The plan to prohibit political office bearers from taking up management positions is a start (see page 5). However, there are many other ways to exert improper influence over administration.
Government has adopted a ‘turnaround strategy’ for local government, and Parliament has established a multiparty committee that will pay attention to the problems associated with local delivery and governance. This move by Parliament is welcomed because the state of our local democracy is a matter of concern to the general public.