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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