On Thursday, 18 September 2014, President Jacob Zuma and the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan hosted a Presidential Local Government Summit.
The summit included key local government and private sector leaders who adopted the Back to Basics approach as an urgent action plan to strengthen local government by getting the basics right.
The Context for the Back to Basics Concept and Approach
The White Paper on Local Government and the Municipal Structures Act, provided that district municipalities should fulfil the following developmental mandates:
Ensuring integrated development planning for the district as a whole;
Providing district-wide bulk infrastructural development and services;
Building capacity of local municipalities in its area to perform their functions and exercise their powers, where such capacity is lacking;
Promoting equitable distribution of resources between local municipalities in its area to ensure appropriate levels of municipal service within the area
Developmental local government remains the visionary foundation for the continuing reconstruction and development of our country. The Local Government White Paper developed a vision of local government as a key component of the developmental state.
In pursuit of that vision, basic services, social services, and civil and political rights, including participatory governance, have been progressively extended to more citizens than ever before.
It is recognized however, that despite our delivery achievements, much still needs to be done to improve the performance of local government.
COGTA Initiated Back to Basics by:
Conducting a desk top assessment of municipalities in all nine provinces;
By verifying the findings with provinces;
By presenting this state of LG to PCC, MinMec; and a launch in Presidential LG Summit;
By developing 3 categories of municipal performance to initiate focused action.From the assessment it was determined that a third of the municipalities are getting the basics right and functioning well; a third are fairly functional with average performance, and room for improvement; and the final third are dysfunctional. The assessment was conducted using the following functional factors:
The Five Pillars of the Back to Basics Campaign are:
Putting people and their concerns first;
Supporting the delivery of municipal services to the right quality and standard;
Promoting good governance, transparency and accountability;
Ensuring sound financial management and accounting; and
Building institutional resilience and administrative capability.
In our efforts to recognise and adequately reward good performance and ensure sufficient consequences for under-performance, the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) has developed a set of indicators to be reported on monthly as per the pillars of the Back to Basics approach.
These indicators will measure whether municipalities are performing in terms of the five ‘basics’.