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South Africa

Back to Basics Programme (ZA0018)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: South Africa’s Third National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Municipalities, South African Local Government Association (SALGA); Civil society organisations, Community Development Workers, Local government interest groups.

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption Institutions, Capacity Building, E-Government, Open Data, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: South Africa End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, South Africa Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo: Local government is a primary site for the delivery of services in South Africa, and since 1994 tremendous progress has been made in delivering water, electricity, sanitation and refuses removal services - at rates of delivery unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Yet despite these achievements there are areas in which local government is facing challenges, where a collapse in core municipal infrastructure services has resulted in services either not being provided at all, or provided at unacceptably low standards. Concomitant with this collapse are problems associated with municipal governance, capacity and financial viability. The low rate of collection of revenue continues to undermine the ability of municipalities to deliver services to communities. There are for too many instances both of inappropriate placements, and skills not measuring up to requirements. This is compounded by widespread instances of rent seeking and corruption amongst public representatives and business, reflecting a broader breakdown in the values and good governance principles. These municipalities lack a culture of public service, and there are slow or inadequate responses to service delivery challenges, which are in turn linked to the breakdown of trust between Councils and communities. Social distance by our public representatives is reflected in inadequate public participation and poorly functioning ward councillors and committees.

In 2014 COGTA undertook a review of South Africa’s 278 municipalities, which revealed that the top third of municipalities manage to do the basics right and perform their functions at least adequately. Within this group, there are a small group of top performers who are doing extremely well.

The middle third of municipalities reviewed are fairly functional, but there remain some worrying signs of poor performance or decline. This middle group can be classed as ‘at risk’, since if left unchecked these could presage a further decline.

The bottom third of municipalities are frankly dysfunctional, and the basic mechanisms to perform their functions are not in place. These municipalities are failing our people dramatically, and urgent intervention is required in order to correct the decay in the system.

Local government enters its 15th year as a democratic sphere of government. While significant achievements have been made by local government in delivering services to the previously marginalised communities, the backlog caused by apartheid in delivering such services is immense. This situation is further exacerbated by the growing inward migration into cities, resulting in the emergence of informal settlements and an increased demand for services.

The inability of some municipalities to deliver these services has seen violent community responses in the form of service delivery protests and a general decline in public confidence in local government. This situation has sent a message to government on the need to engage communities better in the service delivery and development processes in their municipalities, and necessitated government to take steps to increase public confidence in local government. Local government is perceived to be corrupt and unable to deliver services. This has resulted in a general refusal by citizens to pay for services and a low public interest in communities being part of local government as contemplated in the constitution. The Back to Basics programme in this regard aims to increase public confidence in the system, develop better mechanisms of citizen engagement, deal with corruption and motivate communities to take responsibility through contributing to the delivery of services.

Main objective: Properly functioning municipal services are inherent to human dignity, and in terms of the Constitution everyone has the right to have their dignity respected and protected. At the same time, citizens need to accept their responsibilities and duties as citizens, with respect to participating in municipal affairs; respecting public property and assets, and paying for the municipal services they receive.

The B2B Programme aims to give all South Africans a basic set of tools by which they can hold their municipalities to account and measure whether they are living up to their promises. Councils are meant to exercise oversight over the municipalities for which they are accountable, and citizens in turn need to have the tools and forums in which they can hold the councillors they have elected accountable for the electoral promises they have made. DCOG will support greater accountability and transparency by collating and publishing the Back-to-Basics indicators for public use. DCOG will also conduct regular national citizen satisfaction surveys, and assist municipalities in developing community engagement plans targeting hotspots and potential hotspots areas.

Brief description:

1. Increase public confidence in local government

Properly functioning municipal services are inherent to human dignity, and in terms of the Constitution everyone has the right to have their dignity respected and protected. At the same time, citizens need to accept their responsibilities and duties as citizens, with respect to participating in municipal affairs; respecting public property and assets, and paying for the municipal services they receive.

The B2B approach is premised on changing a set of fundamental relationships that underpin our Constitutional order and the local government system, namely that

• Between local government and the people we are meant to serve (putting people first, instilling a culture of ‘service’ rather than ‘service delivery’).
• Between leaders and the municipalities they are meant to lead (good governance rather than extractive elites).
• Between people and the public services they receive (responsible citizenship, payment for services).

2. Entrench a culture of good governance and instil a new morality of service and integrity in local government

Ultimately we need to change the political culture in local government, and we aim to do this by popularising a new morality of service and integrity, making sure that effective leaders and well run municipalities are recognised and rewarded, insulating institutional systems from political manipulation, and ensuring consequences for maladministration, mismanagement, fraud and corruption

There will be a targeted and vigorous response to corruption and fraud, and a zero tolerance approach to ensure that these practices are rooted out. Supply chain management practices in municipalities will be closely scrutinized. Where corruption and mismanagement have been identified, we will not hesitate to make sure these are decisively dealt with through provisions such as asset forfeiture and civil claims. We will also work to change practices in the private sector, and enlist the support of civil society to change the national morality.

To ensure compliance with the B2B pillars and establishing enforcement mechanisms DCOG will establish an investigative capacity, which will prepare and package cases for on-referral to law enforcement and other agencies with a view to crack down on corruption and corrupt activities in the local government sphere.

3. Implement initiatives to improve financial sustainability, revenue management and audit outcomes in Local Government

A national campaign on improving the culture of payment will be implemented in partnership with communities, municipalities, and civil society organisations. In addition, the campaign will seek to improve accountability to citizens through better management of municipal finances.

Challenges: The commitment seeks to address the following OGP challenges:

• improving public services,
• increasing public integrity,
• effectively managing public resources
improving transparency, citizen participation, accountability

Intended results: OGP Value: Civic Participation
The identified projects will assist local government to improve public participation through reforming the current public participation model in local government through providing municipalities with national mechanisms of citizen engagement.

Furthermore, local government will seek to improve the culture of payment of services by citizens through implementing an interactive national campaign and improve municipal accountability to citizens through better management of municipal finances by improving audit outcomes of municipalities.

OGP Value: Public Accountability
National government will strengthen anti-corruption measures and enforce applicable legislation and policies, Promote good governance and an ethical culture in local government through developing and implementing a Local Government Code of Good Governance based on the King III Report on Corporate Governance. Furthermore, a Local Government Anti-corruption tribunal will be established.

Ambition: The intended results of the commitment include,
- Improved levels of civic participation resulting in increased confidence and trust in local government. More importantly, the introduction of better citizen engagement tools and methods that will ensure openness of local government to citizen engagement.
- Improved levels of confidence in local government through dealing with corruption and introduction of effective mechanisms to deal with corruption.
Improve service delivery through a creation of a responsible citizenry and an accountable local government.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Back to Basics Programme (B2B)

Commitment Text:

Local government enters its 15th year as a democratic sphere of government. While significant achievements have been made by local government in delivering services to the previously marginalised communities, the backlog caused by apartheid in delivering such services is immense. The B2B Programme aims to give all South Africans a basic set of tools by which they can hold their municipalities to account and measure whether they are living up to their promises.

1. Increase public confidence in local government

Properly functioning municipal services are inherent to human dignity, and in terms of the Constitution everyone has the right to have their dignity respected and protected. At the same time, citizens need to accept their responsibilities and duties as citizens, with respect to participating in municipal affairs; respecting public property and assets; and paying for the municipal services they receive.

The B2B approach is premised on changing a set of fundamental relationships that underpin our Constitutional order and the local government system, namely that:

· Between local government and the people we are meant to serve (putting people first, instilling a culture of ‘service’ rather than ‘service delivery’).

· Between leaders and the municipalities they are meant to lead (good governance rather than extractive elites).

· Between people and the public services they receive (responsible citizenship, payment for services).

2. Entrench a culture of good governance and instill a new morality of service and integrity in local government

Ultimately we need to change the political culture in local government, and we aim to do this by popularizing a new morality of service and integrity; making sure that effective leaders and well run municipalities are recognized and rewarded; insulating institutional systems from political manipulation; and ensuring consequences for maladministration, mismanagement, fraud and corruption.

There will be a targeted and vigorous response to corruption and fraud, and a zero tolerance approach to ensure that these practices are rooted out. Supply chain management practices in municipalities will be closely scrutinized. Where corruption and mismanagement have been identified, we will not hesitate to ensure these are decisively dealt with through provisions such as asset forfeiture and civil claims. We will also work to change practices in the private sector, and enlist the support of civil society to change the national morality.

To ensure compliance with the B2B pillars and establishing enforcement measures DCOG [Department of Co-operative Government] will establish an investigative capacity, which will prepare and package cases for on-referral to law enforcement and other agencies with a view to crack down on corruption and corrupt activities in the local government sphere.

3. Implement initiatives to improve financial sustainability, revenue management and audit outcomes in local government

A national campaign on improving the culture of payment will be implemented in partnership with communities, municipalities, and civil society organizations. In addition, the campaign will seek to improve accountability to citizens through better management of municipal finances.

Milestones: (1) Promote public confidence in the local government system through citizen engagement mechanisms: Public participation regulatory framework piloted in 50 dysfunctional municipalities; Develop a tool kit for citizen engagement; 190 municipalities supported to develop and implement citizen empowerment programmes; Conduct an annual national citizen satisfaction survey (2) Entrench a culture of good governance and instill a new morality of service and integrity in local government: Local Government Code of Good Governance (Based on the King III Report on Corporate Governance) developed and implemented across 278 municipalities; Strengthen anti-corruption measures and enforce applicable legislation and policies by March 2019. (3) Implement initiatives to improve financial sustainability, revenue management and audit outcomes in Local Government: A national campaign on improving the culture of payment implemented by target date; Improve the Percentage of unqualified audit outcomes by target date.

Responsible institution: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Supporting institutions: Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Municipalities, South African Local Government Association (SALGA)

Start date: March 2015

End date: March 2019

Context and Objectives

Under the Constitution, South Africa’s 278 municipalities are responsible for ensuring the sustainable provision of basic services such as water services, sanitation, solid waste removal, and electricity.[Note147: See s 156(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, read together with the functional areas listed in schedules 4A and 4B. Chapter 7 of the Constitution municipalities are established as Metropolitan (Category A), Local (Category B) and District Municipalities. ] Since 1994, the South African government has made unprecedented progress in rolling out basic municipal services to the majority of the population to address the enormous apartheid-era backlog. However, in a 2014 review, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) found that while the top third of South Africa’s municipalities were performing adequately, the group in the middle was at risk, with worrying signs of poor performance and decline. The bottom third was considered dysfunctional, lacking the basic mechanisms to perform their duties despite the availability of resources. The collapse of municipal service provision in these municipalities could be ascribed to several factors including endemic corruption,[Note148: Crispen Olver State capture at a local level: A case study of Nelson Mandela Bay (Public Affairs Research Institute, November 2016).] poor municipal governance, lack of structured community engagement, and poor financial management.[Note149: Department of Cooperative Governance Discussion Document: Serving People Better – Addressing the challenges in local government through a Back-to-Basics approach (16 September 2014) 5–6. ] Indicators of public dissatisfaction in these municipalities included several violent service delivery protests,[Note150: Municipal IQ '2016 Figure: Service delivery protests suggest election year lull' (1 February 2017). ] low levels of civic participation, and a general refusal to pay for services.[Note151: Department of Cooperative Governance Discussion Document: Serving People Better – Addressing the challenges in local government through a Back-to-Basics approach (16 September 2014) 5–6.]

Recognising the need for a differentiated approach and a transformational agenda to respond to these problems, COGTA formulated the Back to Basics Programme (B2B) in 2014 and began implementation from October 2014. B2B is comprised of five pillars: Putting people first; delivering basic services; good governance; sound financial management; and building capacity.[Note152: Department of Cooperative Governance Discussion Document: Serving People Better – Addressing the challenges in local government through a Back-to-Basics approach (16 September 2014) 10. ] Commitment 3 extracts limited elements of this broader programme for purposes of the action plan. For example, the milestone of promoting public confidence in local government through citizen engagement mechanisms is part of the broader B2B Programme of ‘putting people first’. Other components include monitoring ward committee meetings, ward councillor report back and mayoral/EXCO committee report back meetings and monitoring the rate of service delivery protests and approaches to address them. Also included is having complaint management systems and promoting the participation of traditional leaders in council.[Note153: Department of Cooperative Governance B2B Monitoring: Bi-Annual Report The first 21 Months (31 March 2017) 9 – 12 (for the executive summary). ] These additional aspects of the broader B2B Programme do not form part of the commitment.

This commitment focuses on activities that address the broader operating environment for civic participation, such as reforming the regulatory framework for municipal public participation. It also aims to enhance mechanisms for citizens’ voices to be heard by piloting a citizen empowerment programme and conducting a national annual citizen satisfaction survey. The activities centred on improving citizen engagement mechanisms[Note154: Department of Cooperative Governance B2B Monitoring: Bi-Annual Report The first 21 Months (31 March 2017) 40 – 54.]—clearly relevant to the OGP value of civic participation. It could also be construed as relevant to the value of public accountability, but seems to lack a public-facing element. For example, strengthening and enforcing anti-corruption measures appear to be focused on internal accountability, but lack elements such as disclosure of non-sensitive metadata, citizen audits of performance, or citizen-initiated appeals processes.

Although the B2B Programme was expressly formulated as a ‘transformational agenda’ for local government in South Africa,[Note155: Department of Cooperative Governance Discussion Document: Serving People Better – Addressing the challenges in local government through a Back-to-Basics approach (16 September 2014) 8.] in an OGP context the completion of the commitment would be moderate as it extracts limited elements of the existing B2B Programme and did not involve civil society collaboration to formulate a commitment that leveraged existing actions for even greater impact. The activities to implement the objectives of Commitment 3 are all of medium specificity, with the target focus, scale and date of each activity being measurable and verifiable, but not completely clear.

Completion

The commitment is substantially completed. COGTA completed several activities under the B2B Programme to improve the functionality and effectiveness of existing mechanisms of municipal civic participation. By 31 March 2017, COGTA supported the establishment and induction of ward committees in 208 different municipalities and oversaw the development of 500 ward committee operational plans across three provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, and Western Cape). Community complaints management processes were institutionalised in 20 municipalities across another three provinces (Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga). COGTA conducted the annual citizen satisfaction survey and produced quantitative and qualitative reports. It then completed a comparative analysis of survey results and developed a generic template for dissemination of survey results.[Note156: A copy of the qualitative national citizen survey (Department of Cooperative Governance Qualitative National Citizen Survey (March 2016)) is on file with the IRM researcher. ] COGTA also commissioned research on citizens’ expectations, which was conducted and completed by the University of Western Cape in the Metsimaholo and Lesedi municipalities.[Note157: Edwin Molabele, Senior Manager: Institutionalization of Community Engagement, Department of Cooperative Governance, 'Progress on commitment 3: Back to Basics Programme', communication with Mr Thokozani Thusi, 2 August 2017. A copy of the report (Chris Tapscott & Greg Ruiters 'Matching citizens’ expectations of service delivery with local government capacity to deliver' (April 2016) is on file with the IRM researcher. ]

There has been limited progress in revising the regulatory framework for municipal public participation and piloting it in 50 municipalities. Draft Terms of Reference for the Establishment of a National Project Steering Committee to review the framework for ward committees and public participation in municipal governance have been prepared and approved.[Note158: Edwin Molabele, Senior Manager: Institutionalization of Community Engagement, Department of Cooperative Governance, 'Progress on commitment 3: Back to Basics Programme', communication with Mr Thokozani Thusi, 2 August 2017; Nontando Ngamlama, Executive Direcotr, Afesis Corplan, interview with IRM researcher, 18 September 2017. A copy of the Draft Terms of Reference is on file with the IRM researcher.] A range of civil society representatives (including from organised civil society, community-based organizations, academia, and business), may be invited to participate in the National Project Steering Committee.[Note159: Department of Cooperative Governance, 'Draft Terms of Reference for the Establishment of a National Project Steering Committee to Review Legislative Framework on Ward Committees and Community Participation' (undated) 3. ] The first meeting is due to take place in November 2017.[Note160: Edwin Molebale, Senior Manager: Institutionalization of Community Engagement, Department of Cooperative Governance, email communication with IRM researcher, 28 September 2017. ] Ms Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer of the Community Engagement Unit, University of the Western Cape, maintained that a legislative review was not enough. She emphasized that broad-ranging awareness needs to be rolled out in communities on the constitution, mandate, responsibilities, and accountability and support mechanisms for ward committees.[Note161: Ms Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer of the Community Engagement Unit, University of the Western Cape, interview with IRM researcher, 29 September 2017.]

There has been substantial progress in strengthening anti-corruption measures and enforcing applicable legislation and policies. Monitoring dismissals for fraud is one of the B2B indicators under the Good Governance Pillar and municipalities are required to submit monthly reports of these figures to COGTA.[Note162: Ms Gigi Gosnell, Chief Director, Office of the Director-General, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, interview with IRM researcher, 20 September 2017. ] For the monitoring period October 2014 to June 2016, there were 439 dismissals for fraud across all categories of municipality, with the lowest rates of dismissals recorded in municipalities in the North West, Northern Cape and Free State Provinces.[Note163: Department of Cooperative Governance B2B Monitoring: Bi-Annual Report The first 21 Months (31 March 2017) 113, 117.] COGTA has also awarded a tender for a service provider to conduct training in municipalities around the anti-corruption and fraud framework.[Note164: Ms Gigi Gosnell, Chief Director, Office of the Director-General, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, interview with IRM researcher, 20 September 2017.] The anti-corruption Chief Directorate in COGTA compiles an annual report covering forensic investigations and municipal cases being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) and Special Investigations (SIU),[Note165: Department of Cooperative Governance Annual Report 2015/2016 (2016) 12. ] however, this report is not publicly accessible and was not made available to the IRM researcher.

The IRM researcher was unable to ascertain through interviews or web-based research whether COGTA had developed a Local Government Code of Good Government and implemented it across 278 municipalities.

There has been no progress regarding interventions aimed at improving the culture of revenue collection in municipalities. COGTA was unable to conduct a national campaign on improving the culture of payment in municipalities. The quotation they obtained from the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) to conduct the work was unaffordable for the department.[Note166: Ms Gigi Gosnell, Chief Director, Office of the Director-General, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, email communication with IRM researcher, 28 September 2017. ] Nevertheless, monitoring reports submitted for purposes of the B2B indicators showed an average increase in collection of municipal rates over the monitoring period October 2014 to June 2016.[Note167: Department of Cooperative Governance B2B Monitoring: Bi-Annual Report The first 21 Months (31 March 2017) 123. ]

Early Results

The early results of the OGP component of the B2B Programme are mixed. A report tracking the implementation of the B2B Programme over the first 21 months found that there was an increase in the number of ward meetings taking place, ward councillor report back meetings, and the existence of complaints mechanisms.

There is also reported progress in implementing mechanisms to improve civic participation. But the two most telling indicators of success—number of service delivery protests and increase in unqualified audit outcomes—do not show any significant improvement. The functionality and effectiveness of these systems are questionable in light of an increase in service delivery protests over the monitoring period.[Note168: Department of Cooperative Governance B2B Monitoring: Bi-Annual Report The first 21 Months (31 March 2017) 56–57. ]

The general trend in the overall improvement in the audit outcomes of local government between 2010/11 and 2014/15[Note169: Department of Cooperative Governance B2B Monitoring: Bi-Annual Report The first 21 Months (31 March 2017) 119. ] was not sustained in the 2016/2017 financial year. The Auditor-General reported that the rate of improvement was ‘very marginal and limited’ (15 percent improving, 13 percent regressing and 67 percent remaining unchanged).[Note170: Auditor-General, South Africa Consolidated General Report on the Local Government Audit Outcomes MFMA 2015 – 16 (June 2017) 10.],[Note171: Auditor-General, South Africa Consolidated General Report on the Local Government Audit Outcomes MFMA 2015 – 16 (June 2017) 10.]

On the basis of work conducted in municipalities in the Northern Cape and Western Province, Ms Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer of the Community Engagement Unit at the University of the Western Cape, said that the B2B Programme was not achieving the improved civic participation through ward committees. There are still many problems with their functioning and effectiveness, such as the relationship between the councillor and members of the ward committee. There is also a lack of community awareness on who sits on the committee, knowledge of the committee’s mandate, and remuneration of ward committee members. There are also issues with accountability mechanisms.[Note172: Ms Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer of the Community Engagement Unit, University of the Western Cape, interview with IRM researcher, 29 September 2017.]

Next Steps

Stakeholders interviewed observed that although potentially transformative, the commitment was both wieldy and unambitious, having simply been drawn from the existing Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Key Performance Areas.[Note173: Ms Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer of the Community Engagement Unit, University of the Western Cape, interview with IRM researcher, 29 September 2017; Ms Nontando Ngamlama, Executive Director, Afesis Corplan, interview with IRM researcher, 18 September 2017. ] There was support for modifying the commitment during the second year of implementation to focus on milestones relating to civic participation, coupled with a monitoring mechanism for the OGP component of the broader Back to Basics (B2B) Programme.

One of the factors impeding broader-scale civil society engagement with the B2B Programme is that the monitoring indicators COGTA compiles for the programme are not generally accessible to the public.[Note174: Ms Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer of the Community Engagement Unit, University of the Western Cape, interview with IRM researcher, 29 September 2017. ] A further impeding factor is that while the national COGTA was recognized for the commitment it has put into OGP, the representatives of cooperative governance affairs at a provincial level are not always known.[Note175: Ms Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer of the Community Engagement Unit, University of the Western Cape, interview with IRM researcher, 29 September 2017.]

The IRM researcher recommends that the commitment be scaled back to focus on the fledgling regulatory reform process under way for ward committees. This project has already gained some momentum and has the potential to transform civil engagement in local government. It is advisable for the National Project Steering Committee constituted by COGTA to include representation of civil society actors who have been engaged in advocacy and grassroots struggles in the local government space. This future commitment can additionally draw upon the work being conducted on the interactive social media platform, GovChat.[Note176: http://govchat.org.za/. ]

IRM End of Term Status Summary

3. Back to Basics Programme (B2B)

Commitment Text:

Local government enters its 15th year as a democratic sphere of government. While significant achievements have been made by local government in delivering services to the previously marginalised communities, the backlog caused by apartheid in delivering such services is immense. The B2B Programme aims to give all South Africans a basic set of tools by which they can hold their municipalities to account and measure whether they are living up to their promises.

1. Increase public confidence in local government

Properly functioning municipal services are inherent to human dignity, and in terms of the Constitution everyone has the right to have their dignity respected and protected. At the same time, citizens need to accept their responsibilities and duties as citizens, with respect to participating in municipal affairs; respecting public property and assets; and paying for the municipal services they receive.

The B2B approach is premised on changing a set of fundamental relationships that underpin our Constitutional order and the local government system, namely that:

· Between local government and the people we are meant to serve (putting people first, instilling a culture of ‘service’ rather than ‘service delivery’).

· Between leaders and the municipalities they are meant to lead (good governance rather than extractive elites).

· Between people and the public services they receive (responsible citizenship, payment for services).

2. Entrench a culture of good governance and instill a new morality of service and integrity in local government

Ultimately we need to change the political culture in local government, and we aim to do this by popularizing a new morality of service and integrity; making sure that effective leaders and well run municipalities are recognized and rewarded; insulating institutional systems from political manipulation; and ensuring consequences for maladministration, mismanagement, fraud and corruption.

There will be a targeted and vigorous response to corruption and fraud, and a zero tolerance approach to ensure that these practices are rooted out. Supply chain management practices in municipalities will be closely scrutinized. Where corruption and mismanagement have been identified, we will not hesitate to ensure these are decisively dealt with through provisions such as asset forfeiture and civil claims. We will also work to change practices in the private sector, and enlist the support of civil society to change the national morality.

To ensure compliance with the B2B pillars and establishing enforcement measures DCOG [Department of Co-operative Government] will establish an investigative capacity, which will prepare and package cases for on-referral to law enforcement and other agencies with a view to crack down on corruption and corrupt activities in the local government sphere.

3. Implement initiatives to improve financial sustainability, revenue management and audit outcomes in local government

A national campaign on improving the culture of payment will be implemented in partnership with communities, municipalities, and civil society organizations. In addition, the campaign will seek to improve accountability to citizens through better management of municipal finances.

Responsible Institution: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Supporting Institutions: Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Municipalities, South African Local Government Association (SALGA)

Start Date: March 2015

End Date: March 2019

Commitment Aim

This commitment was part of the government’s Back to Basics (B2B) Programme and included activities that address the broader operating environment for civic participation, such as reforming the regulatory framework for municipal public participation, enhancing mechanisms for citizens’ voices to be heard, piloting a citizen empowerment programme, and conducting a national annual citizen satisfaction survey. The commitment further incorporates initiatives that improve financial sustainability, revenue management and audit outcomes.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

To promote citizen engagement measures (milestone 3.1), by 31 March 2017, the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) had established ward committees in 208 different municipalities and overseen the development of 500 ward committee operational plans across three provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Western Cape). COGTA also finalised draft Terms of Reference for the Establishment of a National Project Steering Committee to review the framework for ward committees and public participation in municipal governance. This lays the groundwork for the more difficult and protracted process of revising the regulatory framework for citizen engagement in municipal governance.[41]The government also developed ‘GovChat’, a social media platform enabling interactive communication between municipal councillors, officials and communities.[42] However, by the midterm review, Govchat had not yet been launched.

The government made progress in strengthening anti-corruption measures and enforcing applicable legislation and policies (milestone 3.2). Under the B2B Programme, municipalities are required to submit monthly reports of dismissals for fraud, and the anti-corruption Chief Directorate in COGTA compiles an annual report covering forensic investigations and municipal cases being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) and Special Investigations (SIU).

There was limited progress in actions related to milestone 3.3 (implementing initiatives to improve financial sustainability). COGTA was unable to conduct its intended national campaign to improve the culture of revenue collection in municipalities as the quotation it obtained from the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) to conduct the work was unaffordable.[43] Related to this milestone, the government made limited progress in improving the percentage of unqualified audit outcomes.[44]

End of term: Substantial

In respect of promoting citizen engagement mechanisms (milestone 3.1) in September 2018 COGTA launched GovChat in partnership with the Government Communication and Information Service (GCIS) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).[45] The social media platform is available on mobile and web-based (https://za.govchat.org) and has three components:

· A survey tool to rate civil service facilities (police stations, early childhood development centres, post offices, schools, special needs education centres, and healthcare facilities). Users are able to search for particular facilities and to rate both the service and facilities. Survey results are submitted to contact persons at the relevant facility.

· A facility to view service requests.

· A donation tool, allowing users to donate blankets, food, clothes and electronics for collection by the local Ward Councillor.

In rural communities, where connection speeds are slower, GovChat is available through the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data channel.[46]

The promoters of GovChat claim that the tool will enable 16 million citizens to access more than 10,000 public representatives supporting more than 30,000 public facilities and services in communities across the country.[47] The tool does not enable public representatives to respond to public messages, however, queries are routed to the responsible person at public facilities while national departments, councillors, ward committees and community development workers are able to view issues and trends on the GovChat dashboard. This will enable public officials to compare facilities at a granular level.[48]

GovChat was initially launched in four provinces: Western Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal, and the Free States.[49]However, the launch took place after the official end date of the action plan. The IRM researcher was unable to ascertain the level of completion at the end-of-term for the other milestones in this commitment.[50]

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

At the conclusion of the midterm, there were already signs that the commitment had led to improvements in civic participation. For example, a report tracking implementation of the B2B programme over the first 21 months found that the number of ward meetings and ward councillor report back meetings had increased, alongside the existence of complaint mechanisms.[51] The launch of GovChat promises to have significant potential to improve citizens’ ability to participate in government planning and service delivery.[52] However, as the platform was only launched in September 2018, and is only at the earliest stages of roll-out, it is too early to assess results.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report (September 2018), South Africa has not finished developing its next action plan. The IRM researcher recommends carrying this commitment forward but scaling it back to focus on the implementation and roll-out of the citizen engagement tool GovChat. During the fourth action plan cycle, this tool could be extended to all provinces. The developers and promoters of the tool could also consider mechanisms for sharing the data generated by the tool in a manner that promotes public-facing accountability.

[41] Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): South Africa Progress Report 2016 – 2018, 41, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/South-Africa_MidTerm-Report_2016-2018.pdf.

[42] Eldrid Jordaan & Donald Liphoko “GovChat – a social media platform that enables interactive communication between government officials and communities” (no date), slide 2.

[43] Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): South Africa Progress Report 2016 – 2018, 43, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/South-Africa_MidTerm-Report_2016-2018.pdf.

[44] Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): South Africa Progress Report 2016 – 2018, 44, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/South-Africa_MidTerm-Report_2016-2018.pdf.

[45] Eldrid Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer, Govchat, whatsapp communication with IRM researcher, 27 September 2018. A launch video is available at https://player.vimeo.com/video/290289728

[46] Deputy Minister Andries Nel, ‘Launch of Govchat, 25 September 2018, https://www.gov.za/speeches/govchat-25-sep-2018-0000

[47] Ibid.

[48] Eldrid Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer, GovChat, telephone interview with IRM researcher, 11 October 2018.

[49] Ibid.

[50] The IRM researcher contacted Ms Gigi Gosnell on 4 October 2018 regarding the OGP point of contact for the department. She was informed that the designated point of contact, Mr Edwin Molebale, had left the Department months before. She was referred to the Chief Director of Citizen Engagement, Ms Boitumelo Diale. The IRM researcher contacted Ms Diale by email on 9 October 2018, who responded, and a telephone interview was set up for 15 October 2018. Due to a misunderstanding on the part of the IRM researcher the meeting did not take place. Attempts to secure a subsequent meeting were unsuccessful.

[51] Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): South Africa Progress Report 2016 – 2018, 43, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/South-Africa_MidTerm-Report_2016-2018.pdf.

[52] Ms. Damaris Kiewits, Community Liaison Officer at the Community Engagement Unit, University of the Western Cape, stated that it would be a ‘critical tool’ for consultation with the Western Cape Government, interview with IRM researcher, 10 July 2017.

[53] The Environmental Geographical Information Systems webpage, https://egis.environment.gov.za


South Africa's Commitments

  1. Citizen-Based Monitoring

    ZA0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  2. Open Budgeting

    ZA0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  3. Back to Basics Programme

    ZA0018, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  4. Environmental Management Information Portal

    ZA0019, 2016, E-Government

  5. Institutionalisation of Community Advice Offices as Part of the Wider Justice Network

    ZA0020, 2016, Capacity Building

  6. Department of Public Service and Administration

    ZA0021, 2016, Open Data

  7. OGP Awareness Raising Campaign

    ZA0022, 2016, E-Government

  8. Implement the G20 High Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency 2. Implement a Register of Legal Persons and Arrangements

    ZA0023, 2016, Beneficial Ownership

  9. Develop and Implement an Accountability/Consequences Management Framework for Public Servants

    ZA0009, 2013, Conflicts of Interest

  10. Service Delivery Improvement Forums (SDIFs)

    ZA0010, 2013, E-Government

  11. Mainstream Citizen Participation in the Public Sector

    ZA0011, 2013, Capacity Building

  12. Develop an Integrated and Publicly Accessible Portal of Environmental Management Information

    ZA0012, 2013, Environment and Climate

  13. Development of an On-Line Crowdsourcing Tool That Will Allow the Public to Submit Data on Protected Areas and Conservation Areas.

    ZA0013, 2013, Environment and Climate

  14. Schools Connectivity

    ZA0014, 2013, Education

  15. Implement a Know Your Service Rights and Responsibilities Campaign

    ZA0015, 2013, Capacity Building

  16. Accountability/ Consequences Management Framework

    ZA0001, 2012, Conflicts of Interest

  17. Service Delivery Improvement Forums

    ZA0002, 2012, Public Participation

  18. Know Your Service Rights and Responsibilities

    ZA0003, 2012, Capacity Building

  19. National Anti-Corruption Forum and Anti-Corruption Hotline

    ZA0004, 2012, Capacity Building

  20. Guidelines for Corruption-Related Sanctions

    ZA0005, 2012, Capacity Building

  21. Develop a Citizen Participation Guideline

    ZA0006, 2012, Capacity Building

  22. Enhance Involvement of Civil Society in the Budget Process

    ZA0007, 2012, E-Government

  23. Environmental Management Portal Feasibility Study

    ZA0008, 2012, E-Government