Local Government Service Delivery is a very vexing problem.  Probably more turmoil and strife are caused by poor local government and service delivery than almost any other factor in  South Africa.

Local Government Services:

The principle services which are supposed to be delivered by local governments include:

  • Water supply
  • Sewage collection and disposal
  • Refuse removal
  • Electricity and gas supply
  • Municipal health services
  • Municipal roads and storm water drainage
  • Street lighting
  • Municipal parks and recreation

To which we would add the provision of adequate and affordable public transport services and affordable and adequate housing for the needy.


There are well defined structures and methodologies, and some strong institutional support systems, for example The SA Local Government Association at the Education and Training Unit (ETU) for Delivery and Development and at theirToolboxpages where various topics are discussed and developed BUT when we went searching for formal training in Municipal Management we found only one course, and that a one year non degree course run by the University of Johannesburg.  Hopefully other courses exists but we are simply unaware of them.

Problems with Local Government:

The Direct Democracy Forum’s (DDF’s) perception is that, as with so many areas of endeavour in South Africa, while there are the best of intentions and many of the correct things done and the correct levels of finance applied, this somehow doesn’t result in effective service delivery and customer satisfaction.

The  DDF attribute this to a number of factors, rooted mainly in the ANC’s top-down management strategy as evidenced by its cadre deployment both at local government management and local government council selection.  We list below the main problems we see in no particular order – meaning that each problem is critical! 

Current problems resulting in poor Municipal management and service delivery:

  • Cadre deployment to management and councils.
  • Lack of expertise and skills at council level
  • Lack of expertise and skills at management level
  • Lack of expertise and skills in the workforce.
  • Lack of proper planning, budgeting, financial management and control.
  • Lack of motivation and upward mobility for the workforce.
  • Lack of accountability.
  • Lack of transparency.
  • Lack of project management skills.
  • Lack of infrastructure management, maintenance and renewal.
  • Lack of formal municipal management education and training.
  • Side-lining skills of older generations of municipal management.
  • Side-lining skills of older generations in the municipal workforce.
  • Lack of commitment to transparency and quality of service delivery at all levels.
  • Lack of adequate response to legitimate grievances from constituents.
  • Lack of response to calls for service.

Much of our reservations are reflected in the attached Municipal Infrastructure paper produced by the CSIR in 2006.  A bit dated, yes, but probably more relevant now than then and deserving of determined response by national and local government.