DA Mayors make submissions to COGTA rejecting the ANC’s District Development Model regulations

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

Please find attached a soundbite by Eleanore Bouw-Spies MP.

Mayors in DA led municipalities across the country have made submissions to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) rejecting the ANC government’s District Development Model (DDM) regulations that were gazetted on 4 August 2023.

The message from the DA Mayors is clear – the DDM, and its regulations, is unconstitutional as it undermines the constitutional and legal framework underpinning the separation of governance responsibilities between the national, provincial and local government competencies.

This creates significant compliance risk for municipalities as they are still required to fulfil their legislated obligations under Chapter 7 of the Constitution and comply with sector specific statutes such as the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The DA supports the position taken by the Mayors as the DDM is clearly a harebrained idea to centralise the governance of all municipalities in South Africa. We are of the view that this Soviet-era inspired idea of central planning 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’.

Key objections made by DA Mayors include:

• Constitutional validity of the DDM – In trying to reduce the autonomy of municipalities to set their own development priorities and allocate resources according to the provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act, the DDM is in violation of the Constitution as provided for in Section 151(4) which 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.’

• Lack of Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) – To the best of our knowledge, there is no evidence of a socio-economic impact assessment (“SEIA”) having been carried out to assist with the formulation of the Draft Regulations as regards risks, costing and the reduction of the regulatory burden attendant on implementation, for example.

• Lack of tangible progress in the 3 DDM pilot project sites – The DDM has so far been piloted in 3 municipalities, namely, the OR Tambo District Municipality (Eastern Cape), Waterberg District Municipality (Limpopo) and eThekwini metropolitan municipality (Kwa Zulu Natal). After spending over R100 million on the three pilot sites, on 9 November 2022 COGTA itself revealed to Parliament that the return on investment had been negligible.

• The DDM will slow down service delivery – The number of stakeholders, going all the way up to the President, that must be involved for the DDM to be implemented and for One Plans to be developed – exposes the bureaucratic nightmare that awaits municipalities should the regulations be adopted. It is a perfect illustration of the saying “Where everyone is responsible, no one is really responsible.”

• Statutory Limits on Intergovernmental Structures Creation under IRFA: Section 47(1) of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act mandates careful alignment of regulations with its provisions. This suggests that deviation from the prescribed intergovernmental structures in Chapter 2 might be prohibited. Section 47(2)(c) reinforces this by allowing only differentiation, not new structure creation. Despite claims that Draft Regulations maintain power division as per cooperative governance commitments, the “One Plan” concept challenges this.

The DA rejects the policy idea behind the DDM and by extension the DDM regulations. 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.