Provinces are to co-ordinate and support the development efforts of local governments. Local governments include both district councils and local municipal councils. Districts further co-ordinate and support often very weak and resource poor local municipalities. Both District and Local municipalities have major developmental and implementation responsibilities.
In reality these governance arrangements have to address the issues such as rural poverty and rural-urban income differences which aggravate social problems and often show up in the form of violence, crime and extremely high rates (20-30% among many population groups) of HIV infection. Urban poor and the migrant labour force on the mines are frequently lacking safe and healthy accommodation. Non-existing service infrastructure in the informal housing areas and poor environmental production standards among medium and small scale industries are causing serious environmental pollution which is a major health hazard in the densely populated areas.
Poverty reduction through economic development and social programs is the first priority of the province. Necessary economic development, risks further aggravating environmental pollution and degradation. Adequate environmental standards, respective licensing and permit systems (including Environmental Impact Assessments of economic development projects), adequate compliance monitoring and control are crucial requirements to improve the status of affairs. A National policy and legal framework is in place, although fragmented and difficult to apply/enforce at local level. Provincial and local level capacity to implement the legislation is still inadequate. Roles and responsibilities are not always adequately clear, causing often long delays in decision-making.
The provincial government is to co-ordinate and support the actual implementation of developmental activities at municipal levels. As such, the province needs to integrate sustainability and environmental concerns in the provincial and local level decision making systems. However, the provincial departments responsible for such issues are lacking technical capacity.
The district municipalities have the responsibility to co-ordinate and support weaker local municipalities in their development efforts. The district and local municipalities are undergoing a major restructuring as a result of merging earlier districts and local municipalities. The purpose of the merging is to increase the capacity of local governments by creating larger and more resourceful entities, and to balance developmental disparities among historically advantaged and disadvantaged communities. However, even the resultant new district and local municipalities lack, in many cases, entirely the technical capacity to address environmental concerns in the development processes in their area.
Given the recently finalised constitutional dispensation of the Local sphere of government, a major tool for policy implementation and strategic planning at all levels to deal with these issues is the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The IDP is a five year plan (up-dated however on a yearly basis) guiding all the development activities. The Local Government Transition Act (second amendment 1996) made the preparation of IDP’s by local councils a legal obligation. The Municipal Systems Act (2000) further stipulates on this responsibility. The IDP of each municipality is a strategic management tool defining the development direction and guiding all functions of each municipality. The IDP is essentially a tool to assist municipalities in achieving their developmental mandate. The developmental aspects of the IDP include:
providing a strategic framework for municipal management, budgeting, delivery and implementation
ensuring political accountability and continuity
facilitating integration, engagement, communication and building of alliances
transforming local government into a vehicle for development
promoting socio-economic development
assisting municipalities in producing holistic strategies for poverty alleviation and the creation of livelihoods.
The Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 specifies the core components of an IDP as:
the vision for the long term development of the municipality
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