Power: pro­vin­cial ver­sus mu­nic­i­pal

CityPress - - Voices - Bon­gani Baloyi voices@city­press.co.za Baloyi is mayor of Mid­vaal Local Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Gaut­eng

Re­cent service-de­liv­ery protests in the Mid­vaal Local Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, where res­i­dents have been protest­ing about ac­cess to land and hous­ing de­liv­ery for some time, have brought into sharp fo­cus the value of a cor­dial and sup­port­ive re­la­tion­ship be­tween local and pro­vin­cial spheres of gov­ern­ment. What com­pli­cates mat­ters in our case is the dif­fer­ence in po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion be­tween those who are in charge of the two ad­min­is­tra­tions.

It is a mat­ter of both leg­isla­tive and con­sti­tu­tional re­al­ity that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have been be­stowed with cer­tain pow­ers and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in re­la­tion to their man­dates on service de­liv­ery. Some of these pow­ers and man­dates re­side con­cur­rently with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, which has an en­dur­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity to sup­port mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in their ful­fil­ment and de­liv­ery. Pre­cisely be­cause mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are at the coal­face of service de­liv­ery, it is im­per­a­tive for both pro­vin­cial and na­tional gov­ern­ment to em­power and sup­port mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to ful­fil their obli­ga­tions to cit­i­zens.

We have ad­vanced the ar­gu­ment in the past that we need to re­think care­fully whether South Africa needs prov­inces as a sphere of gov­ern­ment. Where leg­is­la­tion and pol­icy are an ex­clu­sive com­pe­tence of na­tional gov­ern­ment and the pro­vi­sion of ba­sic ser­vices such as wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance are at the door of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, why over­bur­den the struc­ture of gov­ern­ment by main­tain­ing prov­inces as a sphere of gov­ern­ment.

Per­haps we need to learn valu­able lessons from coun­tries such as Kenya, which has adopted what it calls a de­vo­lu­tion strat­egy for gov­ern­ment. Through this strat­egy, the au­thor­i­ties have de­lib­er­ately cre­ated sys­tems to em­power local gov­ern­ment with ad­e­quate re­sources and skills to en­able them to de­liver ser­vices to the peo­ple. In turn, the local rep­re­sen­ta­tives in these struc­tures have now been re-en­er­gised to ful­fil their man­date with­out the con­straints of con­cur­rent power. Such con­cur­rent power, oc­ca­sioned by the un­nec­es­sary ex­is­tence of the pro­vin­cial sphere of gov­ern­ment, sti­fles the ca­pac­ity of local gov­ern­ment to per­form op­ti­mally.

As the Mid­vaal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, we are proud of our service de­liv­ery record on all mat­ters that are within our ex­clu­sive man­date and com­pe­tence. We have, how­ever, been con­strained by con­cur­rent power with prov­inces to ful­fil cer­tain ex­pec­ta­tions and service de­liv­ery needs of our local peo­ple.

The Hous­ing Act of 1997 says mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties must, as part of their “in­te­grated devel­op­ment plan­ning, take all rea­son­able and nec­es­sary steps within the frame­work of na­tional and pro­vin­cial hous­ing leg­is­la­tion and pol­icy” to, in­ter alia, en­sure that “the in­hab­i­tants of their ar­eas of ju­ris­dic­tion have ac­cess to ad­e­quate hous­ing on a pro­gres­sive ba­sis” and to “ini­ti­ate, plan, co­or­di­nate, fa­cil­i­tate, pro­mote and en­able ap­pro­pri­ate hous­ing devel­op­ment”.

This pro­vi­sion, how­ever, still re­quires the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to pro­vide us with the nec­es­sary sup­port. As long as the struc­ture of gov­ern­ment re­mains as it is, we need to re­mind each other about our re­spec­tive roles as pre­scribed by the Con­sti­tu­tion of the repub­lic.

This au­gust sys­tem of laws en­joins the three spheres of gov­ern­ment to work to­gether to achieve the com­mon goals of pre­serv­ing the unity of the state, demo­cratic and clean gov­er­nance, ac­count­abil­ity, sta­bil­ity and progress in the man­ner in which they per­form their func­tions.

De­spite our own mis­giv­ings re­gard­ing the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of prov­inces as a sphere of gov­ern­ment, we have an abid­ing duty to re­spect those con­sti­tu­tional im­per­a­tives.

In this re­spon­si­bil­ity, recog­ni­tion has to be made that none of the spheres should dic­tate to or in­struct an­other to com­ply with or per­form cer­tain func­tions out­side its given man­date, but must at­tempt to co­op­er­ate in a spirit of mu­tual ex­is­tence and ca­ma­raderie.

This brings us to an­other im­por­tant prin­ci­ple of co­op­er­a­tive gov­ern­ment and in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal re­la­tions which also en­joins our coun­ter­parts in the Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to co­op­er­ate con­struc­tively. The Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires that, when a dis­pute or mis­un­der­stand­ing arises, the par­ties should try to sort mat­ters out am­i­ca­bly in a spirit of open­ness and co­op­er­a­tion. In­stead of ig­nor­ing our gen­uine calls for in­ter­ven­tion, the pro­vin­cial of­fice needs to use the dis­pute res­o­lu­tion mech­a­nism cre­ated for such to achieve the goals of co­op­er­a­tive gov­ern­ment and in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal re­la­tions.

As the Mid­vaal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, we re­main for­ever open to en­gage­ment and de­lib­er­a­tion in the quest for ef­fi­cient service de­liv­ery, ir­re­spec­tive of our po­lit­i­cal views.



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