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What is 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 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.

Read more on the DDM microsite