Integrated development planning versus national programmes?S&T partner Jowie Mulaudzi reflects on what threatens to be a key area of tension, namely the functional value and efficacy of IDPs and their relationship with centralised targeting and delivery mechanisms.
The legislative revolution
Integrated Development Planning (IDP) is at the heart of the business of local government. This is true for municipalities in all three categories: Metropolitan (Category A), District (category B) and Local Municipality (Category C). The Municipal Systems Act (32 of 2000) requires each municipal council to develop an IDP to guide short and long term development and implementation within their area of jurisdiction.
The Municipal Structures Act of 1998 makes provision for the creation of executive structures which, varying by category of municipality, are responsible for amongst others the development of IDPs, resourcing, implementation and alignment with and integration of these with higher level IDPs.
The legislative revolution managed by the Department of Provincial & Local Government (DPLG) is seeking to place local authorities at the centre of development. They have to become central actors in the development arena, using IDPs to source provision from existing government programmes, and thereby transforming development into a demand-driven process.
With the end of the local government transition period, heralded by the last local election, IDPs are potentially powerful planning tools with their own process and other requirements. Their effective utilisation is of course the critical challenge: but they are merely another complicating aspect of the management and delivery systems and frameworks currently being established at local level; and which seems to be taking place in an ad hoc and distinctly un-co-ordinated fashion.
National funding of local programmes
During the transition period, District Municipalities received some infrastructure and/or poverty alleviation funding from the following national departments and programmes, among others:
In these programmes, implementation was commonly managed by District Municipalities but financial management and controls remained the responsibility of national departments. Each of them, in turn, had its own approach and institutional arrangements.
In successive evaluations of the Community Based Public Works Programme (CBPWP) for example, we found that at District Municipality level the same staff members were responsible for local anti-poverty projects as well as these national programmes, viewed as special programmes. However, internal planning was still done in a fragmented way with very little interaction across the various national departments' programmes.
National departments - most of them, anyway - have been slow to identify which of their own requirements need to give way before those of local government. Local government is still viewed as a desperately weak and uncapacitated arena, and one that lacks the political clout to oblige national departments to change their preferred way of working. Bottlenecks and disputes seem unavoidable.
Institutional arrangements and IDPs within DMs
As schematically represented below, national departments and District Municipality (DM) councils decide on the projects to be implemented. On the side of national departments, the choice of projects is influenced by local needs but mainly by the overall programme objectives. Provincial co-ordinators and managers play a significant role in the identification of projects in order to meet these objectives.
On the side of the District Municipalities, officials play a role in the co-ordinating structures that identify projects and are meant to push the DM agenda regarding identified IDP projects. Of course not all DMs and local municipalities have completed their IDPs, a further challenge. But the point at issue here is that where IDPs are completed, there is a potential for major problems where there is no synergy between IDP-identified projects and those preferred by a National Department as per programme objectives.
The Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISRDP) is meant to provide a mechanism - and policy imperative - that resolves this in favour of DMs and their IDPs. But the ISRDP is far from universally understood or available. In the interim, a co-ordinating structure within council should address the question of integration by looking at both DM and national departments' programmes as a whole with component parts rather than similar but separate programmes. Poverty alleviation programmes need to reinforce DM objectives so that various departments are able to work towards developing a specific cluster of projects with each delivering services as per its mandate and programme objectives and complementing - not competing with - each other.
Similar mechanisms will be required at local municipality level. Given that there are still immense capacity problems in the emergent local government structures which require a lot of resourcing, there might be a need for an integrated fund to be set aside for this purpose within the context of the ISRDP. Effective synergies can be achieved by merging local and national - but this will not be easily or rapidly achieved.