District municipalities are being called upon to play a leading role as centres of service delivery and economic development, including job creation.
Not long after SA Local Government Association (Salga) president Thembi Nkadimeng called for appropriate and sufficient funding for municipalities to enable them to perform their functions, President Cyril Ramaphosa identified these entities as appropriate platforms to implement coordinated service delivery involving all three spheres of government during his term of office.
The integrated district-based approach envisaged the establishment of implementing teams and oversight mechanisms, known as Khawuleza (hasten) provincial coordination forums. The model came as the Ramaphosa administration explored ways of “doing things differently” under his Thuma Mina and new dawn vision.
The model is to be led by Deputy President David Mabuza, who will ensure it is institutionalised and replicated. Both Mabuza and Ramaphosa are to participate from time to time through izimbizo (meetings between municipalities and their communities).
In terms of the new model, the national, provincial and local government are expected to cooperate in a coordinated manner, led by the Presidency via the presidential coordinating council (PCC), whose size is to be expanded to include the district municipal representatives.
The district municipalities were previously excluded from the PCC, which brings together the president, ministers, premiers and local authorities in the form of metro mayors and Salga to discuss economic development and service delivery.
The president unveiled his new approach while presenting the Presidency 2019-20 budget vote in the National Assembly on July 17.
Ramaphosa criticised the government’s previous top-down approach which, he said, was “outdated” and “wholly out of step with the realities” of undoing the legacy of skewed development.
The government was moving away from the previous approach of parachuting development into the communities. Instead it planned to create economic opportunities and bring development by tailoring efforts to the conditions and circumstances.
Social partners such as churches, traditional leaders and civic organisations are to be engaged.