We are embarking on a new path in South African history, where integrated development is going to be exercised primarily from 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.
The district-centred developmental model, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 2019 State of the Nation Address, is premised on co-ordinated 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 structures to the 44 districts and eight metropolitan areas.
The district model is a response to fragmented development, resulting in poor governance and resource wastage.
In turn, this fragmentation has engendered co-ordinated policies and action plans that result in social distance between government and the people.
This creates distrust and lack of confidence in public institutions.
Service delivery protests, which sometimes turn violent, are an outcome of citizens and communities feeling the government is unconcerned about their service delivery challenges.
A second elemental feature necessitating the district model is to align all government functions and operations towards the actual realisation of the National Development Plan.
This plan is unambiguous on the empowerment of citizens and communities to access socio-economic rights like water, sanitation, healthcare, education and security.
These rights, summarised in Chapter 2 of the Constitution, are non-negotiable in the 6th Administration of President Ramaphosa to bring government closer to the people and driving localised growth and development.
Therefore, the district model is about unlocking development bottlenecks and embedding monitoring and evaluation at the local level instead of the provincial and national government departments.
The outbreaks of service delivery protest and sporadic incidents of what has been termed Afrophobia are a net result of ordinary citizens and communities feeling denied.
As such, the district model is intended to be an empowering platform, most especially for women and young people, to have capabilities to define their own lives, according to their needs, wants and aspirations.
The district model is intended to ensure that equitable development translates to citizens and residents (including economic migrants and political refugees) having access to an acceptable quality of life.
The endorsement by the Cabinet of this district model or the Khawuleza (“hurry up”) delivery model, is a game-changer in entrenching participatory governance.
It is a viable sustainable mechanism to build socially-cohesive societies that are capacitated to drive impactful programmes and implement social compacts between the private sector, civil society and municipalities.
It is testament to the 6th Administration’s holistic response to development fault lines, that priority is placed on rural areas and township economies, to address the legacy of apartheid spatial patterns that disadvantages procurement away from small and medium business enterprises.
As such, the district model will encourage plus strengthen regulations and by-laws, to empower local businesses away from unfair monopoly practices and enable fair competition, rather than confrontation, between local small businesses and those operated by foreign nationals.
The district model is citizen-centric and deserves wide support.
It is aimed at holding accountable those responsible for service delivery failures.
It is about forging partnerships with professional bodies – whose goodwill to the 6th Administration remains strong – such as engineering, accounting, and town planning associations.
The district-centred model then is about entrenching a co-ordinated developmental ecosystem of competencies, resources, capabilities and talents.
The district-centred developmental model is our undertaking to guarantee that, ultimately, we make today better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today.
- Deputy President Mabuza is the chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Service Delivery at District Level
OPINION: David Mabuza