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Future of SA provinces under the spotlight at national conference

2010/11/23 05:17:42 PM

Professor Purshottama Reddy participated in the Sixth National Annual Government Conference hosted by the Democracy Development Programme (DDP) in Durban.

Professor Purshottama Reddy of the School of Public Administration and Development Management participated in the Sixth National Annual Government Conference hosted by the Democracy Development Programme (DDP) in Durban.

Professor Reddy was the academic coordinator of the conference themed: Provincial Governance and Development in South Africa Post 1994: Quo Vadis?

Dignitaries who addressed the conference included Mr Brutus Malada representing the Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Yunus Carrim; Western Cape Premier, Mrs Helen Zille; MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Ms Nomsa Dube; Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mrs Thandi Memela, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities at UKZN, Professor Joseph Ayee.

A session focusing on the African and South African Experience in Provincial Governance and Development addressed by Mrs Zille and Professor Ayee generated a great deal of debate and discussion. The session reflected on the experiences of Ghana and possible lessons for South Africa.

The recent Review of the Provinces and Local Government has presented several options for restructuring provincial government, namely retaining the status quo; retaining the nine provinces with substantially reduced powers and functions; reducing the number of provinces by merging some of them; retaining the provinces as administrative units, or lastly phasing the provinces out altogether.

Service delivery protests at local level have also influenced government thinking in this regard. There are several strong arguments for retaining the provinces including: provincial arrangements which were part of South Africa’s historic constitutional settlement; and provinces being a bulwark of democracy and key to effective service delivery. To date, there has been no public call for a change in boundaries or for a reduction in the number of provinces.

Following the African National Congress (ANC) General Council meeting in September this year, a statement was issued to the effect that a proposed local government summit would be held before the end of the year to consider reducing the number of provinces. It has also been pointed out that the main reasons for poor service delivery are not constitutional or legal, but can rather be attributed to shortages and lack of skills, training and human resources. Challenges like poor service delivery cannot be addressed by ongoing structural changes.

Other academics from the School of Public Administration and Development Management who attended were Dr Pregala Pillay and Dr Thokozani Nzimakwe.

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