We may all fall into chasm between govt, provinces

Ideas

We may all fall into chasm between govt, provinces

Development policies won't succeed until there is integration and cooperation from the top down

Xolisile Gideon Ngumbela

If the new dawn of Cyril Ramaphosa wants to make it to the polls in 2019, it must first deal with its baggage of destruction, poor service delivery and under-performance by both the executive and civil service over the past decades. Never before has the political paradox been as intriguing and frustrating as it is now. South Africa has made little progress towards implementing its development agenda, despite numerous high-level meetings and volumes of declarations and resolutions at Jacob Zuma’s gatherings.
There is a growing evidence that communities all over SA have failed to meet their development challenges. Forging ahead with their political infighting and slate politics rather than with development programmes, ANC leaders, and particularly those of the underdeveloped and poor provinces, have put these communities on the path to destruction, misery, starvation and poverty.In a post-Nasrec and post-Cold War era, true development cannot be implemented in a non-democratic society. For a long time to come, the success of Cyril Ramaphosa’s new deal of “Thuma Mina” will depend on the temperature and colour of the political landscape. The spate of internal conflicts in the Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal bear testimony to the lack of consensus among the ANC leaders.The tragedy is that slate wars are fought on the same terrain where development ought to be taking place. Any amount of post-war reconstruction should, therefore, be viewed as artificial development of far less value than the potential true development that could have taken place in the absence of conflict.
While scholars and service delivery activists wonder what ought to be done, the situation is further complicated by the fact that poor and needy communities are not masters of their own fate. They are not represented in forums where conflicts and political deployment projects are discussed for everybody’s benefit. Neither do they have a chance to express their will and spell out their needs.
Proponents of people-centred development contend that, in the final analysis, the task of development activists is not to develop people, but to create an enabling environment for people to develop themselves. In this regard, the failure of the development agenda in the Zuma decade could be attributed to the patronising attitude of bureaucratic models. Modern theory supports a participative approach in a democratic environment, which would be a better remedy for Ramaphosa’s new deal.What South Africa is lacking currently is courageous leadership, especially in the planning and implementation phases of its development programmes. The perception of the broader community is that provinces are suffering from a top-down approach when it comes to planning.
Currently, planning in the provinces is in silos despite the many planning instruments and tools provided by government prescripts and the Constitution.
This current attitude is totally against the national government’s spirit and intention as expressed in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation's spatial planning tool. This locates planning squarely at the local level to ensure that it is integrated, demand-driven and aligned with other development initiatives, taking into consideration territorial advantages and enablers that can guarantee the government some quick wins in its quest for better service delivery and justice to down-trodden communities.
In my own view, the kind of planning envisaged should be the one that speaks to total long-term ownership and sustainable partnerships.
If the DPME model of planning were utilised by all government departments, duplication and wasteful expenditure in government would be a thing of the past. It would mean that the government was doing more things and spending less money.
According to the government’s guide to the outcomes approach (2010), change is not happening as rapidly or effectively as is required, despite all the achievements since 1994. Although the government sees itself as having successfully improved access to services and having increased its expenditure on service delivery, it is still not achieving the outcomes necessary to ensure adequate progress in creating a “better life for all” (2010).  According to it (2010), significant levels of poverty and food insecurity, unemployment and inequality still persist.The other challenging factor on planning and leadership is that policy co-ordination frameworks are greatly needed within the provinces. The principle of policy co-ordination frameworks is to control the challenges faced by provinces when dispensing policy.
There is clearly a major gap between policy management and its implementation by officials, especially those in the districts, who are at the coalface of implementing the present government's sustainable service delivery integration and co-ordination plan.
Simply put by the Eastern Cape office of the premier’s provincial policy and research unit (2017), provincial policies are not properly understood within the bureaucratic system and lack alignment to the broader agenda.
Policies should be able to cascade into programmes and projects; therefore, they need to take inter-linking and alignment between government and citizens into account.
Furthermore, it seems that the provincial policies are not properly documented and articulated in a well-structured framework that can serve as a strategy, guide and parameter for provincial programmes and projects.
The fluidity of policies in the provinces is also not assisting the situation; rather, it is creating a policy hodgepodge, especially at implementation level, with the potential to confuse some programmes and projects of the government.
Together with this, change continues in both political and administrative leadership, so that the provinces are unable to present structured and viable documents that can guide procedures in order to overcome some service delivery bottlenecks foreseen by the province.
The unremitting failure of the government clearly shown by the fact that planning in the provinces is still lagging behind. This results in a number of programmes being poorly implemented. Instead of developing people, they have resulted in social grant dependency that is unsustainable and welfarist. This kind of behaviour is a recipe for disaster and also demonstrations the heavy reliance of vulnerable communities on the government with no clear relief in sight.

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