According to the Constitution of South Africa (Section 152), one of the objects of local government is to promote social development.
Overall, there has been limited progress by most municipalities in addressing social development and equity priorities, despite an array of different national and provincial frameworks, policies, and guidelines meant to guide them on these issues. A key contributing factor for this is the absence of a clear and widely accepted definition of ‘social development’ with regard to the powers and functions of municipalities – i.e. what exactly municipalities should be doing to advance social development priorities, and how they should do so. The result has been a generally incoherent conceptual approach by most municipalities to social development and equity, and a failure to fully exploit the significant contribution municipalities can potentially make to a broader understanding of social development. In addition, challenges around intergovernmental relations have meant that interaction between the different spheres of government has often not yielded optimal impacts in terms of social development.
A critical problem is generally poor coordination and cooperation (vertically and horizontally) between the various role-players who either have a mandate, or have taken on the role, to support municipalities in understanding and carrying out their responsibilities with regard to social development. These role-players include government departments and agencies, civil society and faith-based organisations, international development partners and donors, private sector organisations and research institutions. This has manifested in the fragmentation and duplication of different support interventions directed at municipalities, and in resources for supporting municipalities not being directed strategically and optimally.
There is currently no platform/mechanism to enable municipalities and all the relevant support role-players to engage with each other on a systematic basis to share information, lessons learnt and good practices related to local government and social development. We are currently assisting SALGA with the development of such a Community of Practice (CoP).
- What would such a CoP look like that could bring together relevant government, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure more coordinated and coherent support to municipalities to empower them to clearly define and develop strategies to more effectively implement their social development functions and address critical equity issues?
- What would be the most appropriate structures to use?
- What should be the roles and responsibilities of such a CoP?
- Could such a CoP be to your advantage?
If you are interested in contributing to the development of this CoP and/or if you would like to be a member of such a CoP on local government and social development, please e-mail Carla Ackerman at email@example.com.