The conclusion of the local government election has come at a time where the country is experiencing severe uncertainty. This fundamental uncertainty was reflected in the low voter turnout, where less than a third of eligible voters participated in the election. This can be construed as a motion of no confidence in the country’s local governments.
Sadly, the conclusion of the local government election will have no significant impact on the structural challenges of local economic development in South Africa, and it would be fair to conclude that there seems to be no sustainable political solution for the current economic disaster at the local levels of society – we need a new approach, and we need it fast.
The latest election has come at a time where the country is experiencing extreme levels of political uncertainty, that translates into a protracted state of low economic growth and excessive rates of unemployment. For example, the total collapse of local government in most South African towns is a painful reality and although this collapse can be attributed to the inadequacies of local municipalities, it would be short-sighted to place the entire blame on councillors and local government officials, when there is an overall lack of public participation from the local community. The failure of basic service delivery has a far-reaching economic consequence and if the business community does not become actively involved in the municipal planning and budgeting processes, then the country will fail to grow its economy.
Active participation from the private sector in local government affairs is therefore a critical component for the economic growth in the future. The private sector has all the technical and financial resources and capabilities that are needed for basic service delivery, to ensure a prosperous environment for businesses in most of our towns in the country.
If the private sector can form a social pact with local government and strengthen their executive capability for basic service delivery, by engaging in public-private-partnerships, then there stands no reason why most towns in the rural areas of the country can’t achieve double-digit economic growth.
The key role of the business community is therefore to participate in the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) process and to engage with the local municipality to develop sustainable service delivery mechanisms, such as public-private-partnerships and city improvement districts. This will not only ensure the effective execution of municipality’s functions, but will also stimulate local economic development.
NEASA has therefore developed an IDP participation plan for the business community to become actively involved in the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) process of municipalities, which includes topics that address the following questions:
NEASA is convinced that this guideline will empower its members and the business community at large with the necessary knowledge and insight that is needed for an inclusive approach to establish an environment that will stimulate local economic development. This can be achieved, by using the interdependent relationship between the private- and public sector, to develop a bankable business plan for sustainable service delivery mechanisms such as public-private-partnerships and city improvement districts.
The IDP participation plan can be downloaded here.