Government wants to use the new ‘district model’ to fix broken municipalities in South Africa

 ·2 Jul 2021
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma South African Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet has raised concerns around the state of South Africa’s municipalities which were laid bare by a report by the Auditor-General this week.

The report shows that there is widespread mismanagement and irregular spending across the country’s 257 municipalities, and despite repeated warnings, the situation continues to deteriorate.

“Audit results under the outgoing administration have demonstrated little sign of improvement and we have observed the deteriorating state of local government,” said the auditor general Tsakani Maluleke.

“When it took over, the administration inherited 33 clean audits. Unfortunately, it has now regressed to only 27 clean audits. We therefore call on leadership to embrace their responsibility to drive change if we are to make a difference.”

In response, cabinet said that the national government will have to intervene decisively to improve service delivery and the capacity of specific municipalities as provided under Section 139(7) of the Constitution.

“In addition, national government led by Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), National Treasury and service-delivery departments will strengthen their support to municipalities in line with the District-based Development Model (DDM) and their responsibilities as provided for in Section 154 of the Constitution,” Cabinet said.

District-based Development Model

The district-based model, which is being spearheaded by Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is seen as key in closing the ‘disconnect’ between government and a national and local level.

In an explanation of the DDM in September 2020, Dlamini-Zuma said that the model seeks to strengthen the local sphere of governance – moving away from silo planning, budgeting and implementation.

Dlamini-Zuma said that the new model will provide for a ‘more tangible, common vision for development’ of the country.

“By adopting a long term view and interconnecting the local economies we are able to re-imagine a better community, district and nation.”

To assist at a local government level, Dlamini-Zuma said that government plans to employ skilled people at ‘district hubs’ so that they may avail shared skills which local municipalities lack.

“The hubs form part of the district’s capacity and will link the localities to provinces and national departments,” she said.

The hubs will also house critical and scarce skills such as engineers, planners, ICT specialists and administrators, to the districts and local municipalities.

Dlamini-Zuma said that the district-model will also see budget changes across government, with the ultimate goal of unifying finances into a singular budget.

The District Development Model will be implemented through the specialisation and reprioritisation of each and every department, state entity and municipality’s plans and budgets, she said.

“The ‘One Plan’ which will inform the ‘One Budget’ is an intergovernmental strategic framework for investment and delivery in relation to the district and metropolitan spaces,” she said.

Read: Here is the full list of services available at Home Affairs under South Africa’s level 4 lockdown

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter