Just as it is in several other parts of the world, government in South Africa is constitutionally empowered to make law and policies that should ensure the well-being of the citizens of the country. They are required to deliver necessary government services to the populace, which can’t be easily obtained from any other place or source. And in South Africa, there are three spheres of government, one of which is the local government.
The roles of local government in South Africa are pretty essential, as municipalities in the country are saddled with the responsibilities of providing basic services to the people – like water, sanitation, and so on.
Roles Of Local Government In South Africa
Here are prominent roles of municipalities in South Africa as accorded in the Constitution:
A. Electricity Delivery
To ensure every local government keeps having continual access to adequate electricity without issues
B. Provision Of Water For Household Use
Water is very crucial and important, and every citizen in their various communities should have good water whenever they have need of it. This is one basic thing that should be granted everyone, irrespective of what part of the country they reside.
C. Sewage And Sanitation
The municipalities should have systems in place to ensure this is done smoothly without issues.
D. Storm Water Systems
This is something else that is crucial when it comes to the promotion of a sophisticated society all around, and local governments can see to its actualization.
E. Refuse Removal
Local government can help ensure refuse removal as at when due, to avoid a dirty environment
G. Municipal Health Services
This definitely is one of the most important things the local government is meant to provide and indulge in. While the national government for instance has its own to play in ensuring that the citizens experience pleasant health, the municipalities are to be more involved at local level.
H. Land Use
Local Governments in South Africa can make crucial decisions revolving around land use in their municipalities.
I. Municipal Roads
The national government can’t partake directly in the construction of roads in all parts of the country. However, the local government can bring it home and do its own part to make movement smooth for citizens.
J. Municipal Public Transport
They can play a role in making movements easier for the local people.
Other roles of local government in South Africa can be experienced in areas of: maintenance of street trading, abattoirs and fresh food markets, parks and recreational areas, libraries and other facilities.
Finally on this note, the roles of local government in South Africa can be easily identified when we understand how it is purposefully structured to be the sphere of government closest to the people. In South Africa, there are 3 categories of municipality – 278 municipalities in all. Something crucial to place emphasis on is that local municipalities as well as local ward councillors are the government officers that are closest to the people.
The populace can only look at the National government in the country from afar, as well as their provincial government. However, local municipalities and councillors should be closest to citizens, and must be sensitive to community views.
The Local Municipalities In South Africa
For easy administration and enactment of good governance, the country is divided into local municipalities. Now, each of them possessed a council constitutionally where decisions are arrived at, and they also have folks vested with authority (municipal officials) that implements the work of the municipality.
Since this is a democratic thing, then not just anyone can be part of the council – but elected members. They have the power to approve policies and by-laws for their own region. Additionally, they can pass a budget for their municipality annually.
The council is saddled with the responsibility of seeing to the all round progress of their municipal area. They are to always decide on development plans as well as service delivery, and their job is co-ordinated by a mayor.
Everywhere, the mayor too is elected by council, and they are empowered to oversees the work of the municipal manager and department heads all around. They are assisted by an executive or mayoral committee, and they do the work together.
At this point, we should highlight the concept of inter-governmental relations and co-operative governance. It is expedient that the three spheres of government should work together to keep ensuring progress at all ways. Of course, by South Africa’s Constitution, the three spheres of government are not just distinctive, but are also interrelated and interdependent.
This importance of all of these is to ensure that we won’t look down on local government in the league of the other spheres of government in the country. Indeed, it is not merely serving others, but it is actually a government in its own right too. Of course, it must be in alliance with other spheres of government too, and all are to work together on several things – including when it comes to policies and activities, decision-making, and so on. The most important thing is that government should be beneficial to every South African, and this can be a reality as everyone (the different spheres of government) choose to work together.
The South African Local Government Association
In the National Council of the Provinces at the national level, local government in South Africa is duly represented, by SALGA. The South African Local Government Association also represents this sphere of government in other crucial places like the Financial and Fiscal Commission and the Budget Council. Indeed, it is vested with the power to be the official representative of local government in the country.
The South African Local Government Association is made up of nine provincial associations, and its major source of funding is membership fees payable by municipalities. Finally, we should note that there are three different types of municipalities in the country, which includes metropolitan municipalities, local municipalities, as well as district municipalities.
The roles of local government in South Africa can never be overemphasised, as municipalities in South Africa must provide basic services to the citizens of the country.