An evaluation of the role of community based planning in Integrated Development Planning Process in Umjindi Local Municipality, Mpumalanga Province24 Jan 2017
Community Based Planning (CBP) was adopted in 2009 by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCOGTA). This methodology is aimed at enable local government to deepen democracy by allowing citizens to be active participants in their own development. It was also to enable communities to participate in the Integrated Development Planning Process (IDP) and its related budgeting processes so that their priority developmental needs would be taken on board. Potentially therefore, an effective CBP machinery is one of the mechanisms that can advance the goals of developmental local government. This paper is concerned about the apparent ʻ disconnectʼ between CBP and the IDP/budgeting process in the case of the Umjindi Municipality in Mpumalanga Province, a situation that calls into question, the very notion of developmental local government. Based on a comprehensive field study in which community members and municipal officials were interviewed, it was observed that indeed, a ʻ disconnectʼ exists. It was also evident that, even though there is some semblance of community engagement by the Municipality, in reality, the community is marginalised or excluded from the IDP budgeting processes that are so central to making development happen. It was also found that the modalities of the IDP/budgeting processes have become more complex and more removed from the community to an extent where political and economic considerations lead to priorities being placed elsewhere and not community development. Part of the problem was the weak capacity of ward committees to influence the IDP process and to negotiate adoption of CBP priorities. In order to resolve the ʻ disconnectʼ , the paper strongly recommends that the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (DCOGTA) should add, as part of the performance indicators for local government, mandatory inclusion of key CBP development priorities into the IDP/budgeting processes. The Department should also invest in capacity building of ward committee members in order to strengthen their negotiating capacity so to ensure integration of CBP development priorities into IDPs and budget allocations.