South Africa: Municipal Meltdowns - Bold Plan to Shift Delivery to District Level


The deputy president says government is shifting local planning and service delivery from provincial and national government to district and metro level. The plan includes recruiting retired engineers and accountants as mentors and instituting early warning systems to fight service delivery failures, xenophobia and municipal meltdowns.

We are embarking on a new path in South African history, where integrated development is going to be exercised primarily from the grassroots or district level.

This reorientation, to address societal problems through the district level, presents a paradigm shift in the provision and management of basic socio-economic services as well as in the thrust of our economic development.

The district-centred developmental model, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 2019 State of the Nation Address, is premised on coordinated government action to deliver and implement the seven priorities mentioned in the address. Coupled with integrated planning and implementation, the model significantly devolves government functions and governance structures to the 44 districts and eight metropolitan areas.

Why is this district model lauded, across society, as a pragmatic, focused approach? What are its features and the implications of its back-to-basics direction?

The district model is a response to fragmented development resulting in poor governance and...

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