Learner’s submission: Decentralization in South Africa

“The Republic of South Africa is divided into 9 provinces, namely, Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape Each province has got its own legislature and is headed by a Premier who is assisted by his members of executive council (MECs).

Gauteng is the wealthiest province and is divided into 3 metropolitan municipalities, namely Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane, and 3 district municipalities, which are Metsweding, Sedibeng and West Rand. It is further divided into 9 local municipalities.

Johannesburg City comprises 7 regions and these regions are further divided into 130 wards, with each ward led by a Local Ward Councilor who is selected through the ballot during the National Municipal Elections.

The City of Johannesburg is led by an executive Mayor who is also elected through the ballot and takes ultimate responsibility for the City and leads a 10 man- City Council.

The City’s central administration is headed by a City Manager along with a Chief Operations Officer and the Executive Directors for Finance and Economic Development, Development Planning, Corporate Services, Transportation and Environment and The Contract Management Unit. The Head of Emergence Management and Chief of Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) also report directly to the City Manager. The City Manager and his Senior Management are appointed on five-year performance contracts and are the link between the administrative and political arms of the City Government.

The City’s administration is subdivided into 9 Core administrations, 11 decentralized administrative regions and 12 separate companies known as utilities, agencies or corporatised entities (UACs).

The core administration is further divided into 3 types of departments, which are:

  • 1st grouping- provides central distribution functions that deliver services directly to consumers such as finance, metro police, development planning and emergency management services;
  • 2nd grouping- provides internal support services such as corporate services;
  • 3rd grouping- comprises of functions based on the concept of separation between policy, monitoring and evaluation on the one hand and operations on the other. These include the contract management unit of the UACs, health, housing and social development, which incorporates social services, libraries as well as sport and recreation.

Utilities provide electricity, water and sanitation and waste management services and are registered companies run on business lines. They are self-funding receiving no annual grants from the city government and provide billable services direct to individual households.

Corporatised entities such as Johannesburg Civic Theatre were created to deliver specialized services and relate closely to their consumers.

Agencies include Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA)-focus on roads maintenance and storm water, Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) – area-based economic development and Johannesburg City Parks-parks and cemeteries. Agencies perform a service to the public at large-there are no direct charges to individual consumers and are structured as separate companies which rely on the city government for funding.

In order to ensure optimal management of the UACs, the city government established a Contract Management Unit to oversee the contractual obligations of the entities and the Shareholder Unit, which is tasked with financial and investment performance of the UACs and their corporate governance.” – Butholezwe Bhebhe – Johannesburg, South Africa


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