By Phumla Williams
Less than four weeks ago, a new district development model that will revolutionise the way local government works and interacts for the benefit of South Africans was launched in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape.
Following that success, President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Friday (18 October 2019) launch the second pilot of the model in eThekwini Metro, KwaZulu-Natal.
The model is inspired by our commitment to fast-track service delivery and do away with the fragmented approach to development and service delivery. At the heart of the model is a new integrated district based approach to address the “pattern of operating in silos” in the three spheres of government.
The model is a call to action towards improving the coherence, efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of government programmes. It identifies 44 districts and eight metros around the country that will be used to speed up service delivery and economic development, including job creation.
The launch of this district coordination model fulfils the commitment made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to focus on unlocking bottlenecks to fast track service delivery. By focusing on implementation at a district level, we will also have a clearer line of sight to what we need to do to remedy failures at a local government level but significantly ensure development is driven in consultation with the citizens at grassroots level.
Because implementation will be tracked more closely under this new integrated district-based system, we will be able to pinpoint with precision our level of intervention to make local government more effective. Some might argue that the introduction of this model is proof that government is failing to perform its functions.
To the contrary, it is a testament that we have heard the voices of the people who are frustrated about the slow pace of service delivery and inefficiencies in the way government operates at times. Audit outcomes of municipalities call for an intervention that will place them on a path to improved performance and thereby improve the living conditions of communities.
Therefore, the district-driven model is directed at addressing some of these challenges by turning plans into action, and ensuring proper project management and tracking. Through it, the three spheres of government will cooperate in a coordinated manner led by the inter-ministerial committee on district level service delivery.
This committee was established by the president to provide political oversight on the implementation of measures to accelerate service delivery and support to municipalities. Under the model, the three spheres of government will also work from a single plan for each district and metro.
That plan should provide details of the transformation processes required to achieve long-term strategic goals and a desired future in each district and metro.
The approach will also ensure cost effective expenditure throughout the spheres of government.
Some of the issues the plans should prioritise include managing urbanisation, growth and development; supporting local economic drivers; accelerating land release and land development; investing in infrastructure for integrated human settlements, economic activity and the provision of basic services.
The development of rural and township economies will be prioritised to ensure that small business activities are supported and properly regulated. Regulations and bylaws will also be strengthened to encourage fair competition and prevent clashes between local small- and foreign owned businesses.
The intervention is also in line with the National Development Plan, which outlines the importance of building a capable state in partnership with the citizens of this country. This requires well-run and effectively coordinated state institutions staffed by skilled public servants who are committed to the public good and capable of delivering consistently high-quality services for all South Africans.
We therefore call on all South Africans to play an active role in identifying problems and developing solutions in their areas. Those solutions and input will be incorporated into the plans that are aimed at growing the country.
Phumla Williams is the Acting Director-General at GCIS