DA rejects the ANC’s ‘hostile takeover’ of municipalities through the District Development Model

Issued by Eleanore Bouw-Spies MP – DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)
13 Aug 2023 in News

After collapsing municipalities under its stewardship and bringing some to the brink of bankruptcy, the ANC government has now come up with a harebrained idea to centralise the governance of all municipalities in South Africa through its ill-advised District Development Model (DDM).

The DA strongly rejects this Soviet-era inspired idea of central planning and we will be submitting our objections on the DDM draft regulations that were published recently for public comment. It is our considered view that these regulations will punish well governed municipalities, most of which are DA run, by requiring that they align their budgets and adhere to ANC government controlled ‘One Plans’.

In short, the ANC wants to directly interfere in the running of municipalities in violation of the separation of governance responsibilities between, national, provincial and local government.

In trying to reduce the autonomy of municipalities to set their own development priorities and allocate resources according to local needs, the DDM regulations could be in violation of the Constitution as Section 151(4) specifically provides that, ‘The national or a provincial government may not compromise or impede a municipality’s ability or right to exercise its powers or perform its functions.’

Some of the proposals in the draft regulations include:

  • The President of the Republic is the overall champion of the DDM and may appoint Ministers or Deputy Ministers as National DDM Political Champions for each district and metropolitan space.
  • The President of the Republic must establish a Presidency steering committee on the DDM, comprising of senior officials from selected national departments, which must fulfil an overall coordination function in line with the DDM champion role ascribed to him or her.
  • The One Plan may influence more strategic and impact-oriented budgeting and reprioritisation of budgets across the three spheres of government.
  • The One Plan may influence the review of existing legally prescribed development of strategic plans or a departmental or entity annual performance plan in operation at any of the three spheres of government
  • The entire national sphere of government and all national organs of state must contribute to the formulation and implementation of the One Plan in each district and metropolitan space.
  • The Minister (of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs – COGTA) is responsible for the institutionalisation and implementation of the DDM in terms of the cooperative governance mandate of the Department and as directed by the President of the Republic.

The DA has consistently rejected the idea of a DDM since its adoption by Cabinet on 21 August 2019 – and the proposed draft regulations for its implementation are clear evidence that our objections were well founded.

By its own admission, the Department of COGTA recently revealed that R100 million has been spent on the three DDM pilot sites to date but they have nothing to show for it. Despite a clear lack of evidence of the DDM’s efficacy, the ANC is still intent on forcing it through because it gives them direct control, especially in municipalities where they don’t govern.

The cumbersome decision making process that is being proposed in the DDM regulations will add more bureaucratic hurdles, slow down service delivery and take local government decision making away from the people.

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