Distorted Governance: A case of the Municipal Unit in South Africa

20 Jan 2016

Local government community participation units or departments ineffectively and inefficiently operate based on the directive from their political organisations instead of achieving the objectives of the municipality as per the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). This has resulted in the marginalisation of the local communities on their participation in municipal governance which also has been exacerbated by the employment of employees based on political competencies rather than the unit?s core business requirements. On the backdrop of the above, this study aims to reveal municipal operational hindrances that prevent local communities to participate effectively in the eThekwini Municipality governance as permitted by South African local government legislation. This stated background has necessitated the study to adopt a qualitative approach whereby non-standardized interviews were conducted by the researcher to the sample size of 23. The findings of the study were analysed using NVivo software (version 10). The study revealed an extreme percentage (39%) of activities performed by Community Participation and Action Support Unit (CP&AS) which were based on coordinating unclear activities. Whereas, 22% were on capacity development of local communities, 12% on communication with internal and external stakeholders, 8% on monitoring and evaluation, 5% on policies, and 3% on partnership with other departments and spheres of government and elected officials and research respectively. The unbalanced and unclear activities performed by the respondents will assist the municipal decision-makers to understand the core causes of poor service delivery as it lies on the failure of the municipal officials to concentrate on their core business. This study contributes to the decision-makers? understanding of the implications of using the municipal resources to advance political activities, consequently disadvantaging the alleged indigent local communities. The clearly demarcated roles and responsibilities of municipal employees guided by the core business of the units with clear performance standards and expected output set could eliminate the politics-administration dichotomy.