INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS – THE UDM APPROACH (01 JULY 2000)
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This document was prepared with special reference to the debates on the current state of affairs in local and national government. In compiling this document we looked at our policies on local government, adopted in 1998 NASREC National Conference. Our structures should be able to use this document to engage in these debates and to adopt parts of it to develop flyers, slogans and even position papers suited to particular situations that our members are involved in. Your contributions to the further development of this document are important because it is our collective effort that will accelerate the building of our party and ensure its prospects to run local government in our communities. This document should be read in conjunction with the UDM guidelines on local government .
It is argued in this document that the national consensus on the structure, powers and boundaries of local government, which the government claim exists is superficial and does not emanate from the choice of all South Africans. A close scrutiny of our democratic transition in the sphere of local government reveals major differences and tensions between the rural and urban community expectations/needs vis–a–vis government strategy for meeting those expectations/needs.
Given the prevalence of historic inequalities between the urban and rural communities, which resulted from the apartheid system of social engineering and the impact this has on the disadvantaged majority of South Africans, the UDM believes that the debate on local government should be approached as a national issue of importance, that precedes and transcends the forthcoming local government elections. While noting the importance of the existing White Paper on local government, it cannot be denied that the mainstream of South Africans have no clue what the document is about because they have not been consulted. This situation is compounded by the fact that even in the limited elite consultation that takes place, party loyalists dominated it. Thus the process is not owned by those it is intended to serve. The question of rural development is a vexed one in South African politics because the legacy of past colonial/apartheid administrations had been to exclude the rural areas from the mainstream of the economy by relegating them to the backwaters of cheap labour reservoirs. This approach resulted in the skewed and uneven development, which concentrated infrastructure and resources in the major metropolitan centres where the primary and secondary mining and manufacturing sectors respectively are based. The government white papers gloss over the question of rural development without dwelling, on the details of the administrative modalities which will make rural development possible. The current debate on rural municipal demarcations has brought to the surface a lot of questions, which have not been answered when the decisions on demarcations were taken. It also exposes the lack of adequate and clear consultation on the role and powers of Traditional Authorities in the rural areas, with regard to control of areas in which, development must take place, and their scope and capacity in the facilitation of development in the areas of their jurisdiction. The ruling party and its allies contend that the demarcation of primary municipalities is cast in stone because it emanates from a constitutional provision concerning local government. They also argue that this was a consequence of agreements reached at Codesa. If this is true, the unanimous rejection of municipal boundaries demarcation in rural areas by the traditional leaders, testifies to a collective lack of information and knowledge about those Codesa agreements, which can only mean there was no adequate consultation with the traditional leaders, on such and important issue, which impacts on their powers and roles in the areas of their jurisdiction. Neither is there clarity on the administrative roles of municipal local government and traditional leaders structures on developmental activities on land under the jurisdiction of these leaders. There is a pervasive duality of power and control in the rural areas, between elected and traditional structures, with a strong bias in favour of elective rural structures, which is perceived by the traditional leaders as a surreptitious ruse by the government to gradually erode their power and role, in the areas of their jurisdiction, to a point where these traditional institutions, will be rendered extinct. If these perceptions are justified and the government, on objective analyses is seen to be viewing traditional authorities as archaic (outdated) and should give way to modern elective democratic structures, then this is a matter, which must be debated openly, with all role players in particular the traditional leaders and the people who live in their areas of jurisdiction and who subscribe to the institution of traditional leadership. It is hardly fair to engage in furtive deceptive manoeuvres to erode the traditional institutions as this undermines the trust and the confidence the rural communities have reposed in the government. The solidarity and aspiration of the people of our country in their historic defeat of the oppressive apartheid regime was fuelled by the belief in and the desire for the redistribution of the resources of our country to empower the suffering people and communities in meeting their basic needs. It was their desire which formed the basis for demanding the restructuring of the institutional framework which had for centuries been maintained by force, i.e. the material and social imbalances in our society. In practical terms the demand for restructuring should focus on the need to address the imbalances in the distribution of resources between urban and rural communities, the equitable and efficient provision of rural services such as proper housing, water, sanitation, electricity, sustainable land reforms and community infrastructural development. It was because of declared commitments to these social demands that the ANC was able to receive overwhelming support in the 1995 local government elections. With great power and enthusiastic support from the people of those who knew poverty in their lives, the ANC launched the Reconstruction and Development Programmes (RDP) as a vehicle for responding to these needs. It was not long before the ANC elite’s decided overnight to abandon the RDP strategy for addressing the needs of the poor and adopted without proper consultation, the GEAR policy through which the government has seen fit to renege on the promises and commitments it had made to those who brought it into power. In both, urban and rural communities the current condition is that of infrastructural collapse, rising crime and unemployment rates, lack of economic growth and institutional collapse in such critical social areas as health and education. In the urban areas we witness the proliferation of informal settlement structures without due consideration to environmental and town planning standards. The total neglect of the requirements for integrated economic development in the planning and construction of residential areas undermine proper planning for roads, transportation and efficient social service delivery.
The inability of government to collect rent despite the much-publicised Masakhane Campaign, which was intended, to address the debt burden inherited from the apartheid era, has failed dismally. The culture of payments of rent, which the campaign had hoped to inculcate, is not realisable and this is the reality that our government must admit.
The UDM strategy on this matter is that the communities must be involved in a national Indaba for the discussion of the inherited debt. This is an issue of national importance because most people have already been blacklisted in credit bureaus and the government has not been able to intervene on their behalf despite pre-election assurances in 1994/5, that this was a government priority. The suffering of black listed individuals is exacerbated by the fact that the black listing at credit bureaus affects all aspects of the affected individual’s financial dealings. It should be recalled that the ANC was the first to wage an intense national campaign for the non-payment of rent. It must therefore accept the moral responsibility for the negative consequence of its campaign and take corrective steps. The ANC was elected into power precisely because the electorate believed that the ANC government would address this issue. The failure of the Masakhane campaign is a clear declaration that the ANC has failed to address the legitimate expectations of their own creation. This situation is further compounded by the fact that the same ANC government was quick and swift in writing off the R800 million Namibian and R50 million Mozambican debts incurred during the Apartheid era. A serious debate and inclusive decision on this rent debt will place our communities on a fresh and clean start in their attempt to access loans from the banks. Obviously, the banks are more than likely to be enthusiastic and supportive if new funding applications are not clouded by the politics of the past. If the UDM is elected into any municipalities it will as a first step force the national government to lead in this matter by accepting the responsibility to take bold steps in calling for inclusive discussion on solving the problems of accumulated debt, which was created for political expediency by the present ruling party. We believe that the government has failed in its efforts to address this problem because it has not consulted with affected communities. The UDM is convinced that the governments style of sidelining relevant stake holders when it takes decisions has not only undermined its own policies but contradicts its own declared commitment to transformation and democratisation. It was for this reason that one of the stakeholders decided to challenge government on its position regarding the role and powers of traditional leaders on local government issues. It would be naïve and folly to imagine that traditional leaders have no constituencies, but merely represent themselves.
The prevalent culture in the present municipal administration is that of inefficiency and corruption, which emanate from the partisan orientation of councils. This had led to the total neglect of codes of conduct in various aspects of service delivery administration. The UDM policy is that anyone elected to a local government structure must service the needs of the entire community with impartiality and sensitivity to the highest standards of efficient administration. This is extremely important because institutional chaos and non-accountability in various areas of the public sector derives from the subordination of standard administrative norms and practises to the interests served by a corrupt and unofficial network of operations, at the expense of ordinary citizens whose interest are neglected and disregarded.
In general, the problems facing local government differ from province to province, city to city and from one area to another in the rural communities. Despite these variations there is a general pattern of factors underlying inefficiency and non-accountability in local government. This situation has been compounded by the poor calibre of councillors and support staff put in office for political reasons. It is common knowledge that most of local government officers lack appropriate skills and training to run their departments efficiently. Below is a list of the most serious factors responsible for poor local government under the ANC government:
a)Poor roads especially in rural areas.
b) Deteriorating dipping tanks (not maintained).
c) Poor clinic services (no medicines).
d) No personnel in clinics.
e) Deteriorating schools.
f) Unsafe roads (unplanned and uncontrolled residential settlements close to national roads).
g) Lack of financial controls.
h) Lack of adequate maintenance services (leads to dirty towns and cities).
i) Infighting amongst ANC councillors.
j) Political power struggles between SANCO and ANC councillors.
k) Political patronage as condition for accessing services.
l) Lack of accountability.
m) Lack of financial controls.
n) Failure to promote small business enterprises especially hawkers and Independent micro-businesses.
o) Lawlessness and crime.
p) Lack of protection for aged and weak.
q) Undermining of traditional leaders.
r) Unfair urban bias in development, especially in resource allocation.
s) Lack of public transport.
t) Unilateral policies on taxi industry without proper consultation with stakeholders in the industry.
u) Environmental policies not enforced especially around waste management and pollution issues.
v) Lack of institutional co-ordination and community consultation in SDI’s (Spatial Development Initiatives).
w) Misuse of funds earmarked for poverty relief programmes.
x) Widespread corruption and nepotism.
– Lack of discipline.
– Corruption in allocation of sites.
– Corruption in tendering process.
– Corruption in employment.
– Corruption in allocation of houses.
y) Millions spent on consultants.
z) Inflated salaries for councillors.
aa) Poor quality of councillors with no skills or adequate education.
bb) Lack of health services.
cc) Local authorities are bankrupt.
The distribution of resources between the urban and rural communities is inequitable. The government seems to still adhere to the apartheid uneven developmental patterns which concentrated resources in urban communities while relegating the rural areas to economic backwaters of neglect, impoverishment and unemployment. In the housing sector there is a clear unequal distribution of resources because the housing policy and its subsidy schemes focuses on urban dwellers and excludes the other tax payers who are the rural dwellers. Although we appreciate that annexed rural areas by urban municipalities will benefit in the short term, it must be pointed out that the national government has no long-term national strategy for development in the rural areas. The present approach creates the impression that unannexed rural communities will not benefit from local government resource allocation and service deliveries. However, the truth of the matter is that people in rural communities need water, roads, sewerage systems and electricity etc etc. Government has not been able to provide answers to all the question arising from the proposed annexation of rural communities to municipalities to which they are adjacent.
The questions are:
a) Will the government provide the necessary infrastructure in the annexed territories, which will be comparable to the existing one in the municipal area to which they are annexed?
b) How does the government address the perception of the people in the proposed annexed territories that they will be used to beef up the ailing finances of the village boards which are responsible for the general decline and rot in these small rural towns?
c) How does the government respond on the other hand to the fears of the urban municipal dwellers, who believe that they will be taxed to provide financial resources for the up-grading of the annexed undeveloped territories.
All these questions give credence to the contention that government makes far-reaching decisions unilaterally in the corridors of power without proper consultation with relevant stakeholders.
Property tax rates as proposed by government are exorbitant and are beyond the capacity of property owners to pay in an economically depressed environment, which is not generating local revenue. The poor services rendered or the absence of services in the rural municipal areas does not justify the high taxes and inflated rates already charged to property owners. The inevitable consequence of property ownership costs in these areas will be leasing them out (as is happening) to ex-patriate retail businesses at the risk of the deterioration of the properties concerned and their eventual depreciation.
The land tenure system of usufractory (land allocated for use only not ownership) communal land ownership in the rural areas does not lend itself to taxation and rates charges on the basis applicable to municipal area. While we accept in principle the concept of people paying for services, such services must be real and identifiable. The taxes charged must reflect the value of the services rendered. This will be a wholly novel idea in the rural areas. Proper discussions and planning must take place before taxes are levied in those areas. Through a carefully designed Government Communication strategy an impression has been created that there is broad understanding and consensus on the white paper on local government. However, the reality is that there is confusion and lack of clarity on the long-term implications for different stakeholders. It is for this reason that the UDM in its campaign during the forthcoming local government elections will call for a national Indaba to draw up a proper local government policy which will inter-alia address the following:
a) Accumulated debt as a result of rent boycott.
b) National plan on effective rural and urban development.
c) National plan on resource distribution.
d) National economic policy revival.
e) Acceptable local government demarcations.
f) Implications of property tax.
Further, white paper formulations must be preceded by an indaba consultative framework in which the interests of all stakeholders are properly tested and balanced.
The UDM must explain to the people of South Africa that the current economic policy which promotes jobless growth will not advance our people. Lack of sustainable economic growth affects the general infrastructural development, which would have created thousands of jobs. The implications of this pattern of these economic policies is that the lofty ideas contained in the white papers will never be effective unless they are tied to an acceptable economic growth.
The IEC is in the process of establishing electoral offices countrywide. Matters related to elections such as rules, establishment and manning of polling stations, voter registration, monitoring of elections etc., etc. will be discussed at meetings which are likely to be held at these offices. It is important that our members at all levels, familiarise themselves with the IEC programmes, so that attempts by the ANC and its allies to manipulate the electoral process in their favour as they did in the last year’s election are exposed with valid evidence.
It is very important that suitable UDM members in good standing and fully familiar with the political terrain of their localities be recruited to operate as party agents. There is no denying the fact that one of the contributing factors to not so good performance in the last elections is that young and inexperienced people were used as party agents. It was a mistake to expect young children to monitor the activities of mature and experienced ANC party agents who for the most part had the advantage of holding formal positions of authority in society either as parents, teachers etc, etc. We learn from our mistakes by engaging in self-criticism that is constructive and open. We must therefore express our gratitude to the hundreds of those young UDM party agents who despite lack of experience volunteered to monitor the elections for our party all over the country. The most important element in our challenge in the forthcoming elections is the quality of our candidates. It is therefore important to identify and recruit quality candidates for our party. We must bear in mind that in terms of government approach in running local government, skilled candidates will be required to run administration efficiently. If we do not have candidates who qualify in our own ranks we must not hesitate to go out and bring new recruits if they have the requisite skills and accept our vision and mission. But people must realise that we are not in the intellectual game here because there are competent individuals with mobilising skills, and good records in discipline and non-corruptibility. We cannot sideline these people because they have no academic qualifications.
The breakdown of our demographics suggests that we stand a good chance to target both rural and urban communities. We must utilise the mixed character of our membership to strategically identify candidates in every ward. Our vision and mission confirm the non-racial character of our party because from the very onset we declared that the UDM is the political home of all South Africans.
Therefore our character as a party places us in a strategically advantageous position compared to other parties who are now scrambling to enter into marriages of convenience in order to bet on a wicket of racism in the forthcoming election.
It is the UDM ‘s view that despite the numerous flaws we have identified in the government’s local government policy formulation there is realism in contesting the forthcoming local government elections. A boycott of these elections would be a retrogressive step and not in the interest of our country. We will improve the condition of our people by participating on our own and offering our followers a real and innovative alternative in contrast to the current crisis management system of local government we witness today, in several provinces. Our participation in the forthcoming local government elections will be guided by the Vision, Mission and Aims which underline our local government policy as outlined below:
To participate fully in legitimate, democratic, accountable and community driven local government through co-operative governance, ensuring optimal utilisation of resource in order to improve the quality of life of all residents/stakeholders/ communities.
Uniting communities at the local sphere of government by stimulating and creating a stable and orderly environment for growth and development, the rendering of equitable, sustainable and cost-effective services and eradicate poverty and imbalances in communities. This will be achieved through optimal consultation and co-operation with all stakeholders without bias to either the rural or urban areas and in consultation with traditional leaders where they exist.
The UDM strives to create an environment on local government level that is acceptable to every citizen. This will be achieved through:
– Democratic participation.
– Culture of non-partisanship and political tolerance.
– Optimal utilisation of resources managed in a cost effective way.
– Sustainable economic development.
– Multiparty structures and maximum participation of all citizens.
– Efficient and cost effective service delivery.
– Establishment of a pure fiscal policy.
– Commitment to elimination of apartheid era community racial boundaries and the integration of all.
– Residential areas.
– Establish transformation linkages between various residential areas and business centres in order to encourage business enterprise development in poor communities.
– Commitment to safety and security of all South Africans.
– Promotion of enterprise development as a key to elimination of unemployment
– Fighting corruption.
– Rural and Urban renewal strategies for infrastructural development and opportunity creation.
– Environmental awareness and education commitment to finding solutions to the taxi industry problems.
– Inclusion of all stakeholder representatives in councils.
– Promote strong liaison between parents, students and educators.
The UDM will assign the following important strategic roles and functions to local government:
-Strengthening multiparty democracy and enhancing democratic values in democratically elected municipal district councils as well as in traditional rural authorities.
– Promoting nation-building schemes at local level through constructive co-operation between local communities.
– Supporting social upliftment and transformation programs to help developing communities to help themselves.
– Co-ordinating and implementing reconstruction and development schemes to ensure integration of all relevant elements.
– Exercising municipal regulatory functions and administration in a creative and responsive way to establish a climate which will attract investment and in which the private sector can stimulate economic growth and create employment opportunities.
– Supporting budgeting and expenditure which give priority to redressing disadvantagement and backlogs in providing services to all communities and simultaneously create conditions for economic growth and social development.
NB: Effective structures and procedures must be established to facilitate and regulate relations and inter-active co-operation between elective local government bodies and traditional authority structures. To promote economic and social development in rural areas. Equitable compromises must be sought between the obligations of democratically elected councillors and those of leaders of traditional societies.
A metropolitan structure will exist where practical combined local government management will lead to better service delivery. Metropolitan service delivery will be more economic and cost effective especially where bulk services are concerned.
– A limited amount of councillors will serve the community.
– More cost-effective structures will be established.
– A more effective structure plan will be developed.
– One management team can be more effective.
The UDM’s policy is that a single administration for a geographical area will be empowered to deliver a more cost-effective service to the citizens. It is also the policy that the management of such a structure will operate more effective consultation forums to ensure better communication.
Cities and towns with developed infrastructure and close to rural councils must promote and ensure infrastructural development linkages with rural councils so that services such as health, education, police services etc. etc. may be co-resourced.
– The whole country must form a local government boundary network.
– The rural areas have an equal share in the development of the nearby towns, cities.
– To combine powers a better form of service delivery will be ensured.
Compare this with the counties and boroughs that are functioning in the UK and USA.
The mayor of a local authority is that person that according to the local government act and ordinances accept the responsibility of the city/town in social and executive functions.
– A directly elected mayor by the citizens of the city/town.
– All social functions and responsibilities remain the responsibility of the executive mayor.
– The functions of the chairman of the executive committee will become the responsibility of the mayor.
– The mayor will be elected for the term of the council.
– The executive function will be restricted to social and political responsibilities.
– The functions of the executive mayor will not interfere with the running of the council or the responsibilities of the chief executive officer/town clerk.
– Political leadership of he mayor implies the leadership of the council.
– No favours for friends will occur as in the elected mayor by the council.
– He/she will be the chairperson of the council.
– He/she will be the leader of the council.
– He/she will be the chairman of the executive committee.
– Social responsibilities should be settled on a macro level.
– Social responsibilities could be delegated to other delegates.
The UDM‘s policy is that the mayor shall be the social and political head of the council and accept those responsibilities. It is also the policy that the mayor is the directly elected representative of the community and, in that capacity be responsible for the sound management of the city/town, in co-operation with the CEO or town clerk.
The democratic right of voters and citizens to participate in the democratic function of their local government:
– It is the democratic right of a voter to elect his/her local council because he/she is a user.
– It is the right of voters and or citizens to be elected as councillors.
– The UDM’s policy is that it is the democratic right of ratepayers and citizens to participate in the democratic process of their local government.
It is the democratic right of traditional leaders to participate in councils, either as elected or ex-officio members.
Structures inside Local Government where the management of the council is done:
– Each local authority should have a system of standing committees.
– Every councillor should be able to take part in the functioning of these committees.
– Financial remuneration could form part of the functioning of these committees.
– Every issue should first be debated in a committee before going to an executive committee and thereafter the council.
The UDM’s policy is that every local authority should have a system of committees where council issues are debated in-tensely before recommending it for approval to exco and council.