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District Development Model
A non-solution for Local Government’s continued failure

by Charis Esema-Onaolapo

In his 2019 Budget Speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa initiated the District Development Model (‘DDM’), citing the pattern of [intergovernmental bodies] “operating in silos” as the reason for the lack of coherence in planning and implementation, which has, in turn, made the monitoring and oversight of government’s program “difficult”, leading to the consequent non-optimal service delivery and diminished impact on the triple challenges of “poverty, inequality, and unemployment”.

Consequently, on 4 August 2023, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs published the proposed ‘draft Regulations framing the institutionalisation of the District Development Model’ (the Regulations) for public input, which NEASA commented on in its submission of 1 September 2023.

The DDM policy, which informs these Regulations, calls for a “whole of government” approach at local, district, and metropolitan levels. This approach aims at creating a single, strategically oriented ‘One Plan’ for each of the country’s 44 districts and 8 metropolitan areas.

This overly ambitious ‘strategy’ seeks to address the inadequacies in local government and is premised on several shortcomings, to say the least. NEASA’s submission highlights how this Regulation:• is a clear usurpation of local government’s constitutional powers;
• could potentially inflict undue hardships upon municipalities that have demonstrated exceptional fiscal responsibility and adept management, by demanding of them to synchronise their municipal budgets with the ANC’s proposed ‘One Plan’, which may not reflect the actual developmental priorities of the local government and the community at large;
• fails to address how it will, in view of the concentration of capital funding streams into the DDM’s ‘One Budget’, inhibit corruption;
• would intensify the intricacy of relationships and could lead to additional and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, which will slow down decision-making processes and impede efficient service delivery;
• would heighten conflicts and power struggles within the different levels of government; and
• introduce the duplication of existing functions and structures within the system of cooperative governance.

To read NEASA’s further comments on the regulation, click here, and to watch its commentary, click here.

We will keep readers updated on any developments herein.

Charis Esema-Onaolapo is a Policy Advisor at the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA).

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NEASA Media Department
media@neasa.co.za