Back to basics

The core services that local government provides - clean drinking water, sanitation, electricity, shelter, waste removal and roads - are basic human rights, essential components of the right to dignity enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Local government (municipalities) has been a primary site for the delivery of services in South Africa since 1994. We have made tremendous progress in delivering water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal at a local level. These rates of delivery are unprecedented in world-wide terms.

Yet despite our delivery achievements, it is clear that much needs to be done to support, educate and where needed, enforce implementation of local government’s mandate for delivery. The transformation of the local government sector remains a priority for the current administration.

Our National Development Plan makes it clear that meeting our transformation agenda requires functional municipalities and a capable machinery at a local level that can create safe and healthy and economically sustainable areas where citizens and people can work, live and socialise.

Our goal is to improve the functioning of municipalities to better serve communities by getting the basics right. The Department of Cooperative Governance is tasked to build and strengthen the capability and accountability of municipalities.

Building blocks for the Back-to-Basics approach

Basic services: Creating decent living conditions

Municipalities must:

  • Develop fundable consolidated infrastructure plans.
  • Ensure infrastructure maintenance and repairs to reduce losses with respect to:
    • Water and sanitation.
    • Human Settlements.
    • Electricity.
    • Waste Management.
    • Roads.
    • Public Transportation.
  • Ensure the provision of Free Basic Services and the maintenance of Indigent register.

Good governance

Good governance is at the heart of the effective functioning of municipalities. Municipalities will be constantly monitored and evaluated on their ability to carry out the following basics:

  • The holding of Council meetings as legislated.
  • The functionality of oversight structures, S79 committees, audit committees and District IGR Forums.
  • Whether or not there has been progress following interventions over the last 3 – 5 years.
  • The existence and efficiency of anti-corruption measures.
  • The extent to which there is compliance with legislation and the enforcement of by-laws.
  • The rate of service delivery protests and approaches to address them.

Public participation

Measures will be taken to ensure that municipalities engage with their communities.

Municipalities must develop affordable and efficient communication systems to communicate regularly with communities and disseminate urgent information. The basic measures to be monitored include:

  • The existence of the required number of functional Ward committees.
  • The number of effective public participation programmes conducted by Councils.
  • The regularity of community satisfaction surveys carried out..

Financial management

Sound financial management is integral to the success of local government.

Performance against the following basic indicators will be constantly assessed:

  • The number of disclaimers in the last three to five years.
  • Whether the budgets are realistic and based on cash available.
  • The percentage revenue collected.
  • The extent to which debt is serviced.
  • The efficiency and functionality of supply chain management.

Institutional capacity

There has to be a focus on building strong municipal administrative systems and processes. It includes ensuring that administrative positions are filled with competent and committed people whose performance is closely monitored. Targeted and measurable training and capacity building will be provided for councillors and municipal officials so that they are able to deal with the challenges of local governance as well as ensuring that scarce skills are addressed through bursary and training programmes. The basic requirements to be monitored include:

  • Ensuring that the top six posts (Municipal Manager, Finance, Infrastructure Corporate Services, Community development and Development Planning) are filled by competent and qualified persons.
  • That the municipal organograms are realistic, underpinned by a service delivery model and affordable.
  • That there are implementable human resources development and management programmes.
  • There are sustained platforms to engage organised labour to minimise disputes and disruptions.
  • Importance of establishing resilient systems such as billing.

Source: Back to basics! Serving our communities better