Separation of National from Local Political Power

Dividing political power between national and local governments seems to be an essential for a functioning South Africa:

Members of the Direct Democracy Forum have been thinking about having the same political party in power in local government as is in power in national government. “Too much power concentrated in one party” seems to be the conclusion. The effect is painfully obvious to see when considering the abysmal state of local government in South Africa.

This thinking expanded outside of the party when debating the 2016 local government elections and was further focussed on by some parties approaching the DDF with this proposal; “if the DDF support them in their local government elections, they would support the DDF in National Elections”.  This we agreed to with some conditions (see below).

This really set the focus on DDF discomfort at having the same parties contesting local and national elections. The truth is that the DDF are focussed on National Government. The DDF want to fix things from the top down. The DDF want to empower those whose business is local government to get on with the job of local government, effectively and efficiently. The DDF don’t believe that any one organisation can deliver at both levels adequately with equal effectiveness and competency. Something always seems to fail in the name of political expediency.

From this debate comes a DDF Policy which says this will be one of the constitutional issues up for discussion when the DDF enter government. A DDF administration will seek to change the constitution such that political parties and politicians engaged in Local Government cannot at the same time engage in National Government. So political parties and politicians will be faced with a choice – do they function and compete at a national and provincial level or at a local level, because they will not be able to function at both levels at the same time.

With this in mind, the DDF have taken a conscious decision not to contest local government elections in 2016 but instead will focus on national and provincial contests. Instead, the DDF will support any party in local elections who 1) have supported or who pledge their support for the DDF in National and Provincial elections and 2) who adopt DDF local government policies.

This is not a walk in the park for anyone taking up this proposal. It can be seen that DDF local government policies are stringent and arduous on those holding power in local government. The DDF will not only empower local governments in their endeavours to deliver to their constituencies but will also empower their constituencies to hold them rigidly to account and fire them if that doesn’t work.

Playtime is over, ladies and gentlemen.

See how you can benefit from DDF policies.             View videos on the main DDF policies

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Non-compliance with Building Codes

The deadly Tongaat roof collapse has riveted one’s attention on the total contempt many builders and developers have for the municipal and national building codes and authorities.

In Yeoville & Belleview in Gauteng we see this contempt being exercised daily and we see the inability or unwillingness of municipal authorities to enforce codes and even when obliged by community pressure to issue stop orders, we see the unwillingness of municipalities to enforce these stop orders.

A case in point is a building in Yeoville, being erected without plans being submitted and therefor without approval.  According to the plans we have seen, the building is intended to house perhaps 300 children in approximately 20 M x 4 M on two floors, or perhaps 450 children on three floors (about 150 children per floor, or about 0.6M² per child), at least that is what the plans indicate.

The Direct Democracy Forum are are horrified at the potential for disaster effecting perhaps as many as 450 children in a building built without local authority oversight, in spite of the municipality having been warned of the illegal building activity and indeed even acknowledging the problem and issuing stop orders.  As with the Tongaat Mall case, the builder / developer simply ignores the stop orders and presses ahead with the building.  In the Yeoville case the developer also ignored the protests and objections of the surrounding neighbours.  

As with Tongaat, the local municipality failed to enforce the stop orders and presumably believe they have done their duty and a long and slow legal process begins, perhaps extending over years, which they see as their only ongoing obligation.  

The DDF believe that these acts are little better than piracy by developers and it might even be argued that the municipalities’ inaction is in effect their colluding in these acts.

Why do we have building codes which are ignored, bylaws which are ignored and stop orders which are ignored?  Why indeed do we have municipalities who cannot or simply will not do their jobs?  Just as with the Johannesburg street vendor fiasco, the municipalities are simply not managing the environs which is their duty to manage,  Once again they are not delivering the services which they are mandated to deliver.  Indeed, are they even mandated to deliver services except by virtue of empty promises uttered at the beginning of each election cycle?  

The Tongaat disaster is a tragic consequence of one example of that sort of neglect.

The DDF have a solution for this dilemma.  Visit DDF local government policies and see how municipalities can be forced to deliver services and do their duties or be forced out of office and possibly even face criminal charges for neglect and dereliction of duty.

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The buck stops at the ballot box 

Responsibility and Accountability in the Economy

This M & G report highlights the failure of the major players in our economy to play nicely together and the effect it has on ordinary citizens, such as Busisiwe and her commute companions, and on you and I and every citizen in South Africa. 

The Direct Democracy Forum have every intention of making the players play nicely together so that capital and labour and society at large, benefit from a functioning economy.  Contrast the picture portrayed in the above report with the prospects of a stable and thriving economy where all players are winners as reflected by DDF policies on education and training, job creation, the economy and so on, and in previous posts in the blog, notably here and here  and in our goals.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Local Government_bg

Background: 

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.

Structures:

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.

Strategies: