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Improving service delivery in South African metropolitan municipalities

This article was written by Lungelo Nomvalo, Director at Deloitte Consulting. The intention behind this article is to initiate debate with government leaders around the issue of service delivery within the metropolitan councils and ways in which to improve service levels. Lungelo may be contacted directly at lnomvalo@deloitte.co.za

A Framework for Improving Service Delivery in the Metros

by Lungelo Nomvalo of Deloitte Consulting

The recent episodes of service delivery protests and billing challenges experienced in the local sphere of government underline the challenge to introduce a more coherent and structured approach to improve and sustain service delivery in metropolitan municipalitiesi (metros). The proposed Turnaround Strategy for local government proved to be hard to implement and highlights a strong imperative to define a new comprehensive approach that focuses beyond operational issues.

In addition, the recent local government elections that saw the ruling party experience marginal losses in certain municipalities also suggests a growing trend of a more assertive electorate that is primarily focused on service delivery excellence.

This paper, proposes a new integrated framework that comprehensively addresses the three strategic levers that are an integral part of the journey towards achieving the vision of a world-class metro. In recent times, local government in South Africa has witnessed a significant deterioration in the three strategic levers, namely:

Revenue Management: Many municipalities are under severe financial pressure stemming from their reduced capacity for collection of revenue for services rendered to their citizens. This impacts their ability to expand and sustain service delivery. The recent billing challenges experienced by the City of Johannesburg highlight significant underlying risks in the revenue management functions of municipalities.

In addition, South Africa needed to get back to the tax-to-GDP ratio of just over 27.6%, which prevailed before the recession. The revenue outcome increased the tax-to-GDP ratio from 25.2% to 25.3% of GDP for 2010/11 ii. This puts significant pressure on the fiscus to adequately fund priority programmes in the local sphere to improve service delivery.

Service Delivery Excellence: Local government continues to experience significant challenges related to the provision of basic or improved services to citizens. This is evidenced by the growing number of grievances from citizens suggesting most importantly that citizens have high expectations of their local municipalities with respect to improved delivery of services.

Institutional Capacity: Our experience with local government suggests a pervasive lack of robust institutional capabilities to support service delivery excellence. The challenges relating to operational excellence range from poor financial management, revenue management, customer management, and risk management.

Read the full article . . . . Improving service delivery in South African metropolitan municipalities

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