This article explores what capacity building means, and provides resources on the role and expectations of local government and municipalities.
What is capacity building?
There is no common definition of capacity building, particularly among different departments and stakeholders – one of the challenges faced when it comes to coordinating interventions. However, in a broad sense, the term can relate to anything from improved governance, technical advice, and programme development to fundraising, managing human resources, and skills training.
The purpose of capacity building is to improve the functionality, performance and service delivery of local government.
The National Capacity Building Framework for Local Government defines capacity as “the potential for something to happen”, viewing it through the lenses of individual, institutional and environmental capacity.
The importance of capacity building at local municipalities is grounded in the role and governmental authority given to municipalities.
Insights and case studies on capacity building at local municipalities
1. Covid-19 pandemic offers municipalities rare opportunity to restore trust
This article in the Mail & Guardian explains how municipalities have been offered a chance to reboot and restore people’s trust and confidence in them, primarily by investing in infrastructure, following a data-driven approach, and making evidence-based decisions resulting in better coordinated implementation and traction across all government departments.
2. Infrastructure delivery: back to basics
This article in Business Live highlights the findings of a National Planning Commission (NPC) report showing that, on average, South Africa’s infrastructure remains at risk of failure and poses a serious problem for the economy.
3. Capacity building as a means to enhance effective service delivery in the public service: a case of Vhembe District Municipality
This 2015 doctoral thesis (UFH) explores the special role that human resources development plays in service delivery in the predominantly rural Vhembe District Municipality, which has a legacy of critical basic service delivery backlogs and staff with low-level work skills and knowledge.
4. Institutional Capacity for Implementing an Integrated Development Plan (IDP): the Case of the Emfuleni Local Municipality
This 2010 mini-dissertation (NWU) asserts that the majority of employees in the Emfuleni Local Municipality lacked the necessary skills to implement the IDP satisfactorily, in addition experiencing misalignment of functions within departments and political interference. Capacity building programmes need to be implemented, prioritising the development of workplace skills.
The role of municipalities and local government
“Local government serves a two-fold purpose. The first purpose is the administrative purpose of supplying goods and services; the other purpose is to represent and involve citizens in determining specific local public needs and how these local needs can be met. Local representative government is a process that spans and connects representation and administration at local levels within local government structures. In order to understand the function and structure of local government, it is important to define local government and understand the meaning of local government democracy and values.
The significance of local government will be addressed. With these aspects of local government in mind, attention will be directed towards the typical structure of local government as the administrative structure of local government forms the basic framework where in local public policy is determined and implemented. Therefore attention will be directed to the composition of councils and their activities.”University of Pretoria Repository
5. Video: What can I expect from My Municipality?
“Section 152 of the Constitution sets out the five focus areas of Municipalities:
1. Provide democratic and accountable government.
2. Provide services in a sustainable manner.
3. Promote social and economic development.
4. Promote a safe and healthy environment.
5. Encourage the involvement of communities.
According to the Municipal Systems Act, a basic service is one that ensures an acceptable and reasonable quality of life with regards to water, sewage, refuse removal, roads and stormwater control, electricity, housing and firefighting.”
6. Video: What Are Municipal Services?
“The Constitution sets out the services that each sphere of government must provide in Schedules 5 and 6. Part B of these Schedules sets the functions of local government including, for example, electricity, water and sanitation services and roads. Some functions are “shared” meaning that the different spheres of government must cooperate in order to deliver them.”
7. Video: What are Municipalities and How are they Structured?
“A municipality is a specific geographical area defined by the Municipal Demarcation Board. All municipalities are governed by a Municipal Council. There are 3 categories of municipalities in South Africa, namely Metropolitan, District, and Local Municipalities. Municipal councils are elected during local government elections. Municipal councillors are elected through either the Proportional Representation Ballot or a Direct Candidate Ballot. Councillors in District Councils also represent local councils in that area.”
8. Video: What is local government?
“Local government is one of the three spheres whose function is to provide basic services. Some functions are shared with other governmental bodies, whilst other functions belong exclusively to specific spheres of government.”