local government

local government

  • SALGA: LED Network Internship

    South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, April 5, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) is the single national representative body for local government.

    SALGA has been repositioned as a knowledge centre and point of first call for assistance and guidance by its members. A new five-year strategy has been developed for the organisation to drive a credible and dynamic agenda for the municipalities. This strategy therefore calls for a differentiated approach to servicing the needs of its members enabling SALGA to remain a relevant and a credible association. It is in this context that SALGA is looking for exceptional, talented individuals to join it in this trajectory of a repositioned organisation and place it at the epicentre of leading the transformation agenda of local government in a proactive and leading way.

    SALGA and the SA LED Network seek to appoint an Intern, based in Cape Town. Job Ref: 120301.

    This is an Internship position for a graduate with a Honours degree in economic development, public policy, planning, business economics, social, political sciences or a related qualification.

    The person will report to the Programme Manager - Economic Development and Planning.

    This is a one-year contract position.

    • Marketing the services and value-add of the Community of Practice (CoP) platform for economic development practitioners, especially those engaged with the Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN);
    • Being available to support CoP members as well as other stakeholders;
    • Sourcing and uploading of information relevant to the members of the ERLN and related content such as policy and research documents, events, jobs and tender information to the CoP website;
    • Identifying of other relevant content for the CoP website, preparing short summaries, categorising and uploading to the website;
    • Developing new content, such as case studies, articles, news items;
    • Networking and cooperation with members and stakeholders to keep the CoP involved and abreast of developments;
    • Development and facilitation of online discussions;
    • Exploring new and innovative tools that will drive usage and value-add to CoP users;
    • Day to day management and response to routine technical queries;
    • Documentation of SALGA Western Cape LED support activities and capturing and dissemination of some of the lessons learnt from the hands on support and the identification of critical success factors in improving LED practise.
    • Minimum of three year University degree and/or Honours in economic development, public policy, planning, business economics, social or political sciences or another related qualification;
    • Understanding and knowledge of economic development or local business development with a public sector / local government focus. Ability to communicate and facilitate professional networks;
    • Experience with internet and website content management systems (e.g. Drupal) of advantage;
    • Valid driver’s licence;
    • Core knowledge, skills and behaviour;
    • Good skills in Microsoft Office;
    • Excellent written and spoken English, good writing skills;
    • Good communication and networking skills;
    • Enthusiastic, open minded and creative;
    • Attention to detail and an eye for layout and editing of documents.
    Remuneration: R73 074.22 - R107 921.34 per annum.

    To apply, submit a comprehensive CV, motivation letter, certified copies of qualifications, ID and drivers licence to Ms Nachi Majoe at nmajoe@salga.org.za.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about the South African Local Government Association, refer to www.salga.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.


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  • Is Local Really Lekker?

    When it comes to local government, then ‘local is lekker’ does not apply and the opposite is more likely. For many years municipalities have made concessions in terms of rates and taxes that apply to benevolent organisations, including institutions that care for traumatised children. Sadly, this has changed and one can only assume that municipalities do not embrace social responsibility as part of their corporate conduct or in business practise.

    For many years, Abraham Kriel Childcare was exempted from paying property tax, albeit that this was subject to making annual application to the municipality for exemption. A decision was communicated that rates will be payable on a phased-in basis which is currently 25 percent of rates and taxes for properties. Due to the manner in which municipal affairs are being managed with administrative backlog, we are still being charged 100 percent of the applicable fee. The effort to be refunded 75 percent should the 100 percent be paid, is enormous with no guarantee of a refund. Of course, we are not delighted by the fact that interest is being charged on the 75 percent variance (’outstanding fees’) and no communication in the interim of when the matter will be remedied.

    In a discussion document relating to the social responsibility of local government, it states that charitable institutions should receive discounts on services - in addition to rates. To date, this has not materialised. We also wish to echo the content of that communication: ‘The high cost of utilities has become a real threat to the sustainability of charitable residential care facilities.’ Surely this should inspire the local authorities to sharpen their pencils in the budget phase and reduce on unnecessary and wasteful expenditure of specific portfolios which has been published in various media. It needs to be reiterated that it should be a social responsibility to differentiate rates and services between commerce and industry and non-profit organisations.

    Should the matter not be resolved, it is quite possible that traumatised children who are being cared for by professional childcare institutions may arrive ‘en masse’ on the doorstep of the municipality as the additional cost cannot be absorbed by the institutions. The mere thought of traumatised homeless children with placards stating ‘Local is not lekker’ should motivate a measure of urgency amongst municipal officials to embrace social responsibility in word and deed.   

    Hilda du Toit
    Marketing Manager
    Abraham Kriel Childcare

    Visit our blog here.

  • Municipality Pledges to Help Needy Students

    Only a week after a Sowetan report that five Ekurhuleni pupils were in desperate need of help to further their studies, the Ekurhuleni district municipality has pledged to pay for their studies.

    The learners all from the Katlehong township, faced a bleak future despite having done well in their studies. They all scored six matric distinctions but a lack of funds meant they could not further their studies.

    The Ekurhuleni’s municipality’s Zweli Dlamini, says they decided to invest in the future of the children after they realised what tremendous potential they have.

    To read the article titled, “Municipality pays for studies,” click here.

    Sowetan Live
  • Poverty Rife in Sasolburg, Says SAIRR

    The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) says that half the residents of the Metsimaholo Local Municipality - where Zamdela is located - earn less than R400 a month.
    Residents from the township, in Sasolburg in the Free State, were protesting against plans to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe Local Municipality, under which Parys falls.
    The SAIRR compiled a profile of the ANC-led Metsimaholo local municipality using socio-economic indicators, supplied by The Gaffney Group, which shows that the municipality is 84 percent rural and 16 percent urbanised.

    Of the 84 000 people of working age who lived in the area, only 30 000 were employed and this brings the unemployment rate to 43 percent.
    To read the article titled, “Poverty rife in Sasolburg,” click here.

    Sowetan Live
  • Women on the Decrease in Local Govt

    President Jacob Zuma says that women's representation in local government has decreased after the 2011 elections.

    Zuma says this is despite the increase in representation of women in Parliament from 2.7 percent during apartheid to 27 percent after 1994.

    Addressing the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa conference in Mthatha, he pointed out that, "The country missed the opportunity at these elections to advance local government towards a 50/50 gender parity."

    To read the article titled, “Fewer women in local government: Zuma,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • Putting Participation at the Heart of Development

    There is good news, and there is bad when it comes to local government.

    The bad news is the old news that South Africa's magnificent policy framework is still not producing matching results either on the ground or in popular perceptions of local government. There is eager and active involvement in community organisations across the country, but citizens feel ignored, bewildered and frustrated by formal government processes.

    The good news is however, that there are signs of a sea change in government, NGOs, and in communities themselves. People are going about things differently, with some encouraging results.

    The 2012 State of Local Government (SoLG) publication - an assessment of challenges, debates and areas of progress with regard to governance and development at the local level in South Africa - spares little time rehearsing what is wrong with local government, instead focusing on innovative ideas, practices and tools that can improve governance and align participatory processes and development more closely.

    Entitled ‘Putting participation at the heart of development//Putting development at the heart of participation', the papers collected in the SoLG highlight three broad areas of work by the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN), a nationwide network of civil society organisations working in the field of local governance.

    The first of these is the vital task of building up citizen-led accountability - developing new ways of involving communities in drawing up an accurate and up-to-date picture of what is happening with local governance and service delivery.

    Building on case study research in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal; the African Centre on Citizenship and Democracy (ACCDE) has also extended its work to gather quantitative data. Looking at three Cape Town locations, ACCEDE has found rising satisfaction with services, but fading faith in councillors and formal structures of governance. The centre is appropriately cautious in drawing wide conclusions from a still-limited survey, but has been able to feed it back into quantitative work and produce citizen scorecards for City of Cape Town officials.

    Another GGLN member, Black Sash, is working with 270-odd community-level organisations to conduct a wider survey of popular experience in obtaining services across the country. Parallel to collecting data at service delivery points, surveyors are also helping people gain a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of different levels of government.

    Complementing the gathering of new, detailed data at a community level are efforts to build alternative approaches to put participation at the heart of development.

    One innovative project led by the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition has taken on the question of food security, piloting an alternative to the government's Massive Food Production Programme (MFPG). The coalition has set up a functioning grassroots alternative that is at once intensely local and readily scalable.

    The MFPP's top down approach sees people turn land over to the programme, then look on as government provides agricultural inputs, pays for labour and carts away all but a tenth of the harvest. The Household Food Security Model instead provides support and skills to individual homesteads, enabling them to increase yields at the same time as retaining a sense of food sovereignty. The coalition reports that the success of the pilot has already begun to open government policy makers' eyes to alternatives to commercial farming models.

    Another example can be found in the years' long efforts of the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF), a membership-based community organisation in the Greater Johannesburg area, to sustain demands for promised housing. As the formal process has dragged on fruitlessly, the SPCDF's perspective on their own role has shifted, evolving from passive (if clamorous) recipients to drivers of the process. For example, the SPCDF has audited the community's own resources, and was able to call on local plumbers to connect over a thousand water points themselves. The demands have changed from calling on government to build houses, to asking for provision of basic services to a community that is prepared to build everything else itself if need be.

    The third area of work covered in the SoLG is one that powerfully links the first two: developing new and effective means of sharing knowledge and experience, and jointly developing plans and policy.

    Isandla Institute is looking at the limits and potential of a range of spaces for governance - taking in the closed, technical realms of top-level executive bodies; the invited space of participation in formal government processes; the greater scope for participation in the invented space of informal community organisation; and finally networked spaces where government, consultants, civil society and communities come together.

    The task here is to shift the paradigm from one dominated by a ‘knowledge elite’ (where government and technical experts know exactly what needs to be done, and how to go about it) to one managed by a ‘learning elite’ (where policy makers and implementers are actively seeking to learn what needs are) and ultimately towards development by a community of practice (to put participation at the heart of development).

    Among the tools available to support such a shift, to better connecting closed but powerful spaces to more dynamic but less influential ones, are information and communication technologies. But large questions remain unanswered over how to create and maintain constructive discourse on platforms where open participation is still often twinned with generous helpings of irrelevant chatter and destructive hostility.

    Speaking at the launch of the publication, Pascal Moloi, a national planning commissioner and managing director of the Resolve Group, was enthusiastic over the content. But he also flagged an important silence on the role that the African National Congress will have to play as a dominant force in local government.

    The 2012 State of Local Government publication presents an important set of interventions firmly rooted in the real experience of some of South Africa's most vulnerable communities - and most heavily burdened municipal administrations - and represents an essential contribution to understanding, reporting on and responding to the challenges of governance at the level closest to the ground. Contributions by Planact, Afesis-corplan, the Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and Mbumba Development are but some of the contributions to the publication.

    *The preparation and publication of the SoLG is supported by the Ford Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and GIZ's Strengthening Local Governance Programme.

    For copies of the SoLG publication or for further information about the GGLN contact the GGLN Coordinator, Ronald Mukanya on ggln@isandla.org.za or 021 683 7903.

    - Ronald Mukanya is coordinator of the Good Governance Learning Network at Isandla Institute.


    Ronald Mukanya
  • Municipalities Wasted R27bn, Says Report

    Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, says that municipalities could have saved R27 billion in the previous financial year - that is R74 million per day by cutting down on unnecessary expenses.

    Gordhan urged new council members to, “Cut down on non-essentials and get your planning, budgets, service delivery and bureaucracy right.”

    Speaking at the launch of the Treasury’s latest financial municipal oversight report, Gordhan said that new council members have to “forget about fancy extras like brand new Mercedes-Benzes.”

    To read the article titled, “Municipalities wasted R27bn – report,” click here.

  • Community of Practice on Local Government and Social Development

    According to the Constitution of South Africa (Section 152), one of the objects of local government is to promote social development.

    Overall, there has been limited progress by most municipalities in addressing social development and equity priorities, despite an array of different national and provincial frameworks, policies, and guidelines meant to guide them on these issues. A key contributing factor for this is the absence of a clear and widely accepted definition of ‘social development’ with regard to the powers and functions of municipalities – i.e. what exactly municipalities should be doing to advance social development priorities, and how they should do so. The result has been a generally incoherent conceptual approach by most municipalities to social development and equity, and a failure to fully exploit the significant contribution municipalities can potentially make to a broader understanding of social development. In addition, challenges around intergovernmental relations have meant that interaction between the different spheres of government has often not yielded optimal impacts in terms of social development.

    A critical problem is generally poor coordination and cooperation (vertically and horizontally) between the various role-players who either have a mandate, or have taken on the role, to support municipalities in understanding and carrying out their responsibilities with regard to social development. These role-players include government departments and agencies, civil society and faith-based organisations, international development partners and donors, private sector organisations and research institutions. This has manifested in the fragmentation and duplication of different support interventions directed at municipalities, and in resources for supporting municipalities not being directed strategically and optimally.

    There is currently no platform/mechanism to enable municipalities and all the relevant support role-players to engage with each other on a systematic basis to share information, lessons learnt and good practices related to local government and social development. We are currently assisting SALGA with the development of such a Community of Practice (CoP).

    • What would such a CoP look like that could bring together relevant government, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure more coordinated and coherent support to municipalities to empower them to clearly define and develop strategies to more effectively implement their social development functions and address critical equity issues?
    • What would be the most appropriate structures to use?
    • What should be the roles and responsibilities of such a CoP?
    • Could such a CoP be to your advantage?
    If you are interested in contributing to the development of this CoP and/or if you would like to be a member of such a CoP on local government and social development, please e-mail Carla Ackerman at ca-lp@iafrica.com.


  • Community Dissatisfaction: A Direct Result of Non-Responsiveness by Government

    On the 13th of April 2011, NGOs whose core focus is the improvement of governance at the local level, gathered at the Cape Milner in Cape Town under the aegis of the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) to launch the State of Local Governance report (SoLG) for 2010-11. Besides the delegates from the organisations that constitute the Network, the occasion was graced by the Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Yunus Carrim as the key respondent to the report presentation. This particular report focuses mainly on ‘recognising community voice and dissatisfaction’.

    The research around this topic was informed by the numerous protest marches that have taken place over the past six years or so. At first, the poor service delivery was in part erroneously confused with power elite struggles within the African National Congress which aimed at dethroning the then President, Thabo Mbeki. The argument then was that he was aloof and largely out of touch with the common man’s needs. He had allegedly become hostage to big business interests and that part of the indifferent service delivery performance could be traced to that wayward attitude cascading from the top.

    So, the spate of community protests that preceded the 2007 Polokwane Conference were conveniently associated with the clamour for a leftward shift in economic policies that according to the ‘excluded’ power elites, would herald better service delivery. Of course there was a school of thought that felt that Mbeki had gotten his economics right but had possibly made a mess of the social-political dimension of his administration - perhaps not enough to warrant the rather undignified exit that the Party subjected him to. Not surprisingly, for as long as the ‘excluded’ power elites spoke the language of change and created the impression that they would be more responsive to people’s legitimate grievances, popular support held until regime change was achieved.

    However, following the 2009 elections, many people quickly realised that the promised change was not happening fast enough and were even suspicious of the new Administration’s commitment to any change at all. There was some kind of a ‘buyer’s remorse’ accompanied by growing murmurs and grumbling over what people viewed as a business as usual modus operandi of the new administration. Although it had appeared like the Zuma administration was going to get a substantial honeymoon period, the pressures of poverty coupled with the non-essential expenditure excesses of some elements of the in-coming cabinet inadvertently hastened the commencement of the new spates of violent protests. Social movements helped mobilise communities for such protest actions but also in some cases, community leaders simply called upon already fired-up community groups to act.

    Ordinarily, communities that resorted to protest actions would have tried the negotiation routes including civic engagement through the invited spaces such as the ward committee forums, IDP and budgeting processes etc but to no avail. In some cases municipal leadership injudiciously resorted to the Marie Antoinette’s type of arrogance that only fuelled anger and desperation. When the resultant frustrations degenerated into acts of violence, government grudgingly came calling and promised immediate remedy to the appalling conditions. Worryingly, community groups made the crucial observation that government only appears to respond when violence is applied.

    Logically to them, the greater the intensity of such violence, the higher the chance that even the President would pay attention. Two points can be deduced from this scenario; firstly, it sets a bad precedent and encourages violent upheavals as a mode of expressing popular dissatisfaction. Secondly, it tends to undermine protests as a form of expression and ventilation of legitimate grievances. While it is true that sometimes genuine protest actions are hijacked by criminal elements and disgruntled political operatives, there is no denying that the latter simply exploit an already desperate situation for their own ends. Therefore, instead of waiting for the tensions to degenerate into runaway violence leading to unfortunate loss of lives and destruction of both private and public property - the responsible thing for the state to do is to be responsive to people’s grievances, respectfully and without undue delays. This is the theme that runs through all the chapters of the SoLG 2010-11.

    Evidence seems to suggest that when there is greater openness and people are enjoined, genuinely, in decision-making processes, they tend to be more understanding and less susceptible to political manipulation regarding unfounded claims of mal-administration. In essence, they internalise a more realistic attitude and could become very useful allies in development rather than perpetually disgruntled consumers of services.

    The report is fittingly critical of the invited spaces for citizen participation - especially the ward committees. It notes that although public participation in governance and development processes is a fundamental constitutional imperative, in practice, municipalities rather than facilitate such participation, tend to frustrate it. Ward committees remain mere extensions of dominant political parties and although complaints initially related to their being under-resourced, there are now fears that the little stipend that has now been availed by the state may worsen rather than improve matters. There are chances that competition for membership of ward committees might intensify and so might political intrigues.

    The stipend and other goodies might, instead of facilitating these committees in the execution of their mandates, hamper them by heightening the stakes of falling foul with their political bosses, the councillors. Besides, there is a school of thought that feels that the ethos of self-less service are increasingly being lost through ‘service payments’ to every emergent representative structure. Although quite frankly the same argument could be advanced to disadvantage councillors as well, the more critical question asked is to what extent is ward committees representative of the voices of the marginalised segments of our society? Sadly, numerous studies, including research undertaken for the SoLG suggest that this particular space is of doubtful efficacy to such communities especially when issues are emotive, contentious and politically significant. This space is frequently manipulated to serve narrow political interests and undermine real civic engagement.

    Fortunately, various civil society organisations have devised fairly independent mechanisms and forums for community engagement. The downside is that many municipalities misconstrue the agenda of such outfits. They tend to resist them and remain rabidly hesitant to allowing them to forge meaningful partnerships in the promotion of public participation. Some do so because of fears that an informed citizenry could become too demanding against limited resources. However, this is a clearly misplaced fear. Evidence seems to suggest that when there is greater openness and people are enjoined, genuinely, in decision-making processes, they tend to be more understanding and less susceptible to political manipulation regarding unfounded claims of mal-administration. In essence, they internalise a more realistic attitude and could become very useful allies in development rather than perpetually disgruntled consumers of services.

    The report also touches on the tensions that continue to build-up among rural communities over their citizenship to a democratic state while still being treated as subjects to their respective traditional authorities that are duly recognised under our laws. Women are particularly more disadvantaged because in many cases tradition does not allow them to ‘own’ land - the key factor of production in those areas. The contradictions have worsened due to the fact that the traditional authorities now draw salaries from the state coffers while they still remain unelected and largely unaccountable to the people. Moreover, the perpetual tension between the traditional leaders and the elected councilors continue to constitute a serious hurdle to brisk development in the rural areas.

    None of the two sets of leadership seems to be doing enough to promote real civic engagement. Until harmony between these two sets of leadership is attained and the benefits of the Constitution, especially on the treatment of women, are realised, rural development will remain a mirage. Yet, with political will, it is possible for all to enjoy a truly participatory democracy.

    References: Afesis-corplan has a limited number of copies of the SoLG but readers are also encouraged to visit www.ggln.org.za for the electronic version.

    Marie Antoinette (the wife of King Louis xiv of France) infamously wondered aloud why the people protesting against shortage of bread couldn’t substitute with cakes.

    - Peter Kimemia manages all programme activities including project staff and resources at Afesis-corplan. This article first appeared in The Transformer, April/May/June edition. It is republished here with the permission of Afesis-corplan, a NGO. 
    Peter Kimemia
  • IEC Sticks to its Confusing Tabulation of Results

    The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) sticking to its confusing tabulation of the results, which grants the African National Congress (ANC) 63.65 percent of the vote and 1.6 percentage points more than it got in the municipal elections.

    At the same time, in official results presentations, the IEC used the figure of 62 percent support for the ANC, which political parties generally accept as the correct one.

    The IEC has granted there is ‘confusion’ but has denied it helped to create the confusion, and continues to do so by highlighting the false 63,65 percent figure.

    To read the article titled, “IEC admits confusion but keeps at it,” click here.
    Business Day
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