The Role of Civil Society Organisations in the Pilot District Development Model in Waterberg District Municipality, Limpopo Province
The South African Government has adopted the District Development Model (DDM) as an operational model for improving cooperative governance and building a capable, ethical and developmental state. In his 2019 Budget Speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa concluded that the poor coordination within government departments results in incoherent planning (silo approach), and poor monitoring and implementation of programmes. Subsequently, Cabinet approved the model, and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) began piloting the DDM in three districts – eThekwini, OR Tambo and Waterberg District Municipalities – in 2019. The model’s implementation is based on ‘One Plan’, a longterm 25-30 year strategic intergovernmental plan guiding investment, development and service delivery in relation to each of the district and metropolitan spaces, which has to be characterised by collaborative research, evidence and solution (CoGTA and NDP 2020). The main aim of this study is to identify current practices in the Waterberg District regarding participation of CSOs in the development of the Municipality’s One Plan and explore possible areas of collaboration between the state and CSOs. It employs qualitative research methods and triangulation to increase the validity of the data.
The One Plan process guidelines highlight that all relevant institutions and actors, including civil society organisations, need to be involved. While the guidelines are important, they do not sufficiently address how the involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) can be actively facilitated in the various stages. The absence of processes for systematic engagements with CSOs specifically in One Plans for each district, and the subsequent failure to integrate their views into the document, suggests that service delivery and investments will remain misaligned with their needs. Ideally, CSOs should actively participate in the seven stages of developing the One Plans, namely: 1 Diagnostic, 2 Vision Setting, 3 Strategy Formulation, 4 Implementation Commitments, 5 Draft One Plan, 6 Approval and Adoption of Final One Plan, 7 Implementation, Monitoring and Review.
Certainly, CoGTA has realised that the technical aspects of intra and inter-departmental coordination at the expense of other district levels, and the exclusion of non-government actors, limits the success of the DDM to result in change in communities. This is also contrary to South African law such as the Constitution of 1996 (section 152), which promotes involvement of communities and community organisations in local government. Similarly, the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, 2005 (section 5) highlights the importance of effective coordination between the three spheres of government (national, provincial and local government) and coordination and alignment of priorities, objectives and strategies.