June 5, 2023
In a direct response to pressing local government issues, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in an urgent call to action, urged the nation to tackle the service delivery bottlenecks hindering the progress of local governance. These obstacles range from skills shortages and governance lapses to a lack of accountability and insufficient consequences for failures.
The Presidential Coordinating Council (PCC) Springs into Action
After a three-year hiatus, Ramaphosa revived the Presidential Coordinating Council (PCC) this past Friday. The PCC operates as a presidential platform for open dialogue with provinces and local governments, allowing the alignment of strategic priorities, discussions of performance, and bringing up topics of national significance.
Under Ramaphosa’s directive, the PCC’s primary objective is to speed up service delivery improvements, fulfilling the needs of communities across the nation.
Towards Accelerated Service Delivery
Key challenges – addressed in the meeting – included revising legislative frameworks, governance, and capacity limitations, as well as fortifying intergovernmental coordination within the prevailing legal and governance structure.
“It is essential to mobilize resources from national and provincial governments to boost and strengthen the capacity of municipalities,” Ramaphosa affirmed, referencing section 154 of the Constitution, which underscores the importance of local government participation.
Despite assistance from the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) through the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), Ramaphosa highlighted that there are still substantial difficulties plaguing local government. MISA lends technical support to municipalities on infrastructure development, infrastructure asset management, and skills development for local government.
Ongoing Efforts: Electricity, Water Services, Roads, Waste Management, Human Settlements
Electricity: Aiming for Stability
Minister of Electricity, Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, is coordinating efforts to alleviate the country’s load shedding woes. This process includes the introduction of net-billing frameworks, the development of a wheeling framework, and a feed-in tariff regime for municipalities, ultimately empowering households and businesses to contribute additional megawatts to the grid.
Water: Restoring Quality and Reliability
The meeting acknowledged the urgent need to enhance waste water management and restore the reliability of water supply and quality. It also considered the potential reforms to the Water Act and Water Services Act, which promise better water service delivery and an enhanced regulation of the water sector.
Roads: New Technologies and Interventions
The PCC backed numerous strategies for improving and maintaining the country’s road network. It welcomed the adoption of innovative technologies such as the deployment of Nano technology in the resurfacing of gravel roads, which could reduce costs by a whopping 50%.
Waste Management: Mass Employment and Cleaning
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) is focusing on immediate measures to create mass employment, initiate cleaning efforts, and promote greening over the next year. A highlight of this plan includes a massive tree-planting drive, aiming to plant 72,500 trees by the end of March 2024.
Human Settlements: Prioritizing the Vulnerable
The PCC is advocating for speedy responses to housing emergencies, upgrading informal settlements, and focusing on the vulnerable and special groups. It’s particularly looking at collaboration with the private sector to implement bulk infrastructure in identified non-metro settlements.
The Road Ahead: A Promise for Better Service Delivery
Despite the comprehensive support systems in place, blockages in service delivery persist. The PCC understands its urgent task to re-evaluate funding models for municipalities and the skills acquisition process to improve the capability of local government.
Along with this, the meeting also considered the validation and enhancement of the District Development Model (DDM) as an essential mechanism for improved intergovernmental coordination and service delivery.
As the country moves forward, the Council’s focus on the acceleration of service delivery is a promising sign of forthcoming improvements for local governments across the nation.