The District Development Model
The District Development Model was initiated by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his Budget Speech in 2019. Subsequently, the District Development Model was discussed and adopted by Cabinet, the 2019 Presidential Coordinating Council (PCC), the March 2020 extended PCC and various MINMECs.
The President in the 2019 Presidency Budget Speech (2019) identified the “pattern of operating in silos” as a challenge which led to “to lack of coherence in planning and implementation and has made monitoring and oversight of government’s programme difficult”. The consequence has been non optimal delivery of services and diminished impact on the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and employment.
The President further called for the rolling out of “a new integrated district based approach to addressing our service delivery challenges [and] localise[d] procurement and job creation, that promotes and supports local businesses, and that involves communities…” The President is cognisant of the fact that such an approach will require that “National departments that have district-level delivery capacity together with the provinces … provide implementation plans in line with priorities identified in the State of the Nation address”.
The Model consists of a process by which joint and collaborative planning is undertaken at local, district and metropolitan by all three spheres of governance resulting in a single strategically focussed One Plan for each of the 44 districts and 8 metropolitan geographic spaces in the country, wherein the district is seen as the ‘landing strip’.
The District Development Model builds on the White Paper on Local Government (1998), which seeks to ensure that “local government is capacitated and transformed to play a developmental role”. The White Paper says developmental local government “is local government committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs and improve the quality of their lives”.
To which end, developmental local government is seen as having four interrelated characteristics of “maximising social development and economic growth; integrating and coordinating; democratising development; and leading and learning”. In order for local government to advance this, the Constitution calls on “national and provincial governments [to] support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs”.
Therefore, the model is a practical Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) mechanism to enable all three spheres of government to work together, with communities and stakeholders, to plan, budget and implement in unison.
In so doing the vexing service delivery challenges can also be turned into local level development opportunities, through localised procurement and job creation which “promotes and supports local businesses, and that involves communities…” This will also require national and provincial departments provide implementation plans and budgets which address local challenges and developmental opportunities whilst aligning with national, regional, continental and global goals and objectives.
The objectives of the District Development Model are to:
- Coordinate a government response to challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality particularly amongst women, youth and people living with disabilities.
- Ensure inclusivity by gender budgeting based on the needs and aspirations of our people and communities at a local level.
Narrow the distance between people and government by strengthening the coordination role and capacities at the District and City levels.
- Foster a practical intergovernmental relations mechanism to plan, budget and implement jointly in order to provide a coherent government for the people in the Republic; (solve silo’s, duplication and fragmentation) maximise impact and align plans and resources at our disposal through the development of “One District, One Plan and One Budget”.
- Build government capacity to support to municipalities.
Strengthen monitoring and evaluation at district and local levels.
Implement a balanced approach towards development between urban and rural areas.
- Exercise oversight over budgets and projects in an accountable and transparent manner.
The District Development Model (DDM) is an operational model for improving Cooperative Governance aimed at building a capable, ethical Developmental State. It embodies an approach by which the three spheres of government and state entities work in unison in an impact-oriented way, and where there is higher performance and accountability for coherent service delivery and development outcomes. It is a method of government operating in unison focusing on the municipal district and metropolitan spaces as the impact areas of joint planning, budgeting and implementation.
This method refers to all three spheres of government, sector departments and state entities operating like a single unit in relation to achieving developmental objectives and outcomes in these district and metropolitan spaces over a multiyear period and over multi-term electoral cycles.
Although each sphere, sector or entity has its distinct constitutional powers, functions and responsibilities, they cooperate and undertake collaborative planning, budgeting and implementation processes converging efforts at the district/metropolitan level. This joint work is expressed through the formulation and implementation of a “One Plan” which is a long-term strategic framework guiding investment and delivery in each district and metropolitan space.
Why is the District Development Model needed?
In order for the State to function and perform optimally and effectively, every organ of State has to perform its core functions well and work harmoniously with other organs of State and with civil society.
The “pattern of operating in silos” is a challenge which has led “to lack of coherence in planning and implementation and has made monitoring and oversight of government’s programme difficult”. The consequence has been non optimal delivery of services and diminished development impact on the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and employment, hence the President in the State of Nation Address (SONA) called for the rolling out of “a new integrated district-based approach to addressing our service delivery challenges [and] localise[d] procurement and job creation, that promotes and supports local businesses, and that involves communities…”
The President has given emphasis to the District Development Model as a unique form of social compacting that involves all key players in every district and metro space to unlock development and economic opportunities, highlighting that “It builds the capacity of the state where it has been most broken.”
The DDM calls for collaborative planning at district and metropolitan level together by all of government, on the basis of a detailed, technically driven consultative process within government and with communities and stakeholders; resulting in a single strategically focussed One Plan for each of the 44 districts and 8 metropolitan geographic spaces in the country.
The Model is very firmly based on analysis of previous and current initiatives to improve developmental Local Government and Cooperative Governance, wherein developmental change is shaped and owned at a local level in partnership with communities, citizens and social actors. The successful functioning of Local Government is critical in this regard but insufficient on its own without more cohesive governance and overall government coordination and functioning. The Model is aimed at enhancing state capacity, institutional powers and functions which includes the ability to work in a cooperative manner so that there is greater cohesion and positive development impact.
The model also takes into account lessons from previous and current initiative which include Project Consolidate, the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISRDP), the Urban Renewal Programme (URP), District level Planning and Implementation Management Support Centres, the Local Government Turnaround Strategy (LGTAS), and Back to Basics. All of which sought and seek to improve the quality of life for all through impactful delivery.
The model reflects on recent reforms and progress in areas such as the National Treasury budgeting processes, especially Built Environment Performance Plans (BEPPS) processes and alignment with Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), all of which are facilitating for better spatial targeting and alignment of government investment spending with development priorities.