Volume 14, Issue 2, December 2019

Measuring transparency, public participation and oversight in the budget processes of South Africa’s metropolitan municipalities

The Metro Open Budget Survey (Metro OBS) is modelled on the global Open Budget Survey (OBS) initiated by the International Budget Partnership in 2006. The OBS is an independent, comparative assessment of budget accountability: transparency, oversight, and public participation. The global OBS has been conducted six times and evaluates national government budget processes in 115 countries across six continents. The Metro OBS goes a level deeper by applying the OBS methodology to local government, and assesses five of the eight metropolitan municipalities (metros) in South Africa: City of Cape Town, City of Johannesburg, City of Ekurhuleni, eThekwini Municipality, and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. In 2018, IBP South Africa in partnership with the Dullah Omar Institute piloted the Metro OBS across the same five metros. The questionnaire used in this pilot was developed by adapting the 2017 international Open Budget Survey for the South African local government context. After using the 2018 pilot to test and refine the methodology, we rolled out the project in full from the beginning of 2019.

Can a provincial government under national intervention intervene in a municipality?

The Constitution confers on the national government supervisory powers over the provincial (and local) governments. It also affords the provincial government the powers to supervise local government. Generally, this arrangement has the potential to safeguard, track and ensure optimal performance of public service, effective governance, accountability, transparency and sustainable development. Most critical for this article are section 100 of the Constitution, which regulates national government intervention in a province and section 139 of the Constitution, which regulates provincial and national intervention(s) in local government. Within these two provisions, there are different forms of interventions with varying degrees of encroachment. However, a recent judgment by the North West High Court seems to have blurred the distinctions between them. The article seeks to clarify this uncertainty.

Land use management: Where traditional and municipal governance meet in rural areas

Municipalities play a critical role in service delivery, development and democracy. What is often forgotten in the assessment of local government is that, before 1994 (and even before 2000), there were significant parts of the country where no local authorities existed. One of those areas is the rural areas of South Africa, where traditional leaders continue to be the face of local government. This is something which traditional leaders have been for many centuries.

The BRICS Bank: More Money for South Africa’s Municipalities?

Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill coined the term ‘BRIC’ in 2009 as an abbreviation for a group of four emerging economies that were growing relatively fast- Brazil, Russia, India and China. Although this was initially an acronym for ease of reference, BRIC soon personalised this term. In 2010, after some lobbying from the former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, an invitation was extended to South Africa to join the group, which then took the acronym ‘BRICS’ to accommodate South Africa. There were several countries which could have been invited to join the BRIC other than South Africa. However, South Africa was earmarked as a gateway to Africa. As a regional leader that arguably represents African interests in global forums, South Africa was considered strategic to present a united voice of the global South.

The Commonwealth Local Government Forum focuses on the Localisation of the Global Sustainable Development Goals Agenda in Southern Africa

The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), a membership-based organisation established in 1995, and representing about 200 members across the 53 Commonwealth countries, convened its Southern Africa Regional Conference on the 25th - 26th June 2019, in Lusaka, Zambia. Based on the Dullah Omar Institute’s work on multilevel governance and local government in South Africa, the region and beyond, the institute has a long established association with CLGF, dating back to 2005. In its capacity as a member of CLGF’s International Research Advisory Group, the DOI participated at this Regional Conference.

Municipal Cost Containment Regulations: An attempt to curb local government wastefulness?

The public has long put pressure on the government to curb the resource wastage at the local level. In a bid to contain this problem, on 7 June 2019, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, with the concurrence of the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), gazetted the Municipal Cost Containment Regulations (the Regulations). The objective of these Regulations is to ensure that the resources of municipalities and municipal entities are used effectively, efficiently and economically. It is also hoped that these cost containment measures will eliminate the wastage of public resources on non-service delivery mandates.

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