Factors impacting on good governance : a case study of service delivery in child abuse within the eThekwini Municipal District of KwaZulu-Natal.
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Good governance is the only mechanism available to provide for the basic social needs of communities within a normative and ethical paradigm. Good governance in South Africa is based on the tenets of the Batho Pele (People First) principles and practices. The primary aim of this study is to determine the factors impacting on good governance utilizing a case study of service delivery in child abuse in the eThekwini Municipal District of the KwaZulu-Natal Province. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, the Bill of Rights in Chapter 2, provides for the protection of all children from abuse in South Africa. There have been several policies that were developed to realize this constitutional commitment. Despite these developments, and South Africa achieving a democratic order since 1994, the abuse of children continues to occur in the eThekwini Municipal District, in large numbers as has been revealed in this research study. This research study has illustrated that the barriers to good governance in the delivery of services to children who are abused are several. They stem from structural, strategic and operational gaps that are prevalent and that have an adverse impact on the accessibility and quality of service delivery to all communities, at the coalface. The researcher is of the believe therefore that turnarounds to address these challenges of achieving good governance practices in service delivery in child abuse, will only be met from a wide range of actions involving all spheres of government at the strategic helm and the various government and nongovernmental sectors at an operational level. The processes of governance in the delivery of services in child abuse in the eThekwini Municipal District is riddled with problems and anomalies that emanate from the barrierladen structural positioning and the ineffective leadership role of provincial strategic governance structures in so far as strategic direction in this priority area of child protection, is concerned. The outcome of any service delivery program through the processes of good governance, according to current policy mandates, is that beneficiaries of services achieve sustainable development and this could only be achieved if there is a holistic services delivered to the client system. This has not happened in service delivery in child abuse in the eThekwini Municipal District. Services were fragmented and duplication occurred as the different state sectors responsible for service delivery were in the main, operating in silos. Governance in service delivery seemed to lack direction due to the absence of an intersectoral strategic planning process. There was no strategic plan to inform operations on the ground and which it is proposed, would have facilitated child protection organizations to acquire separate budgets for resource acquisition, to facilitate and support efficient, effective, economical and sustainable service delivery. In actual fact, there were no separate budgets to fund services in child abuse by the different sectors. There were therefore very limited programs available for services to child abuse victims. There was no service delivery improvement plan for child protection which is the priority area within which services in child abuse is provided for. This according to the National Policy Framework and Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Management of Child Abuse, (2004), was supposed to be the strategic core function of the Provincial Department of Social Development. There is a clear indication that this strategic governance structure has not complied with the mandate of the Public Service Regulation, 2001 by ensuring that there was a service delivery improvement plan in place for child abuse services that was well known to service providers for the period of this study. One can then from this prevailing situation conclude, that the public service policies and legislation had not been complied with in this regard at a provincial level. This had led to the lack of leadership that existed in service delivery in child abuse at the local community level. A consequence of this shortcoming was that each state department developed its own sectoral operational plans and rendered services according to these sectoral plans that were geared to meet the sectoral need which in a manner, entrenched fragmented service delivery and had resulted in victims of child abuse being exposed to secondary abuse by service providers. The present constitutional provision is that service delivery in child abuse be managed as a national and provincial responsibility under the umbrella of child care and protection services. The Public Works Department is responsible for infrastructure development for these sectors at the local level. The study has revealed that the biggest challenge to accessibility of services in rural areas was the lack of basic infrastructure of roads, electricity, telephones and safe environments, the constitutional responsibility of which is the core function of local government. The local sphere of governance does not play a role in ensuring that structural barriers to good governance in service delivery in child abuse are included in their Intergrated Development Plans (IDP), for the simple reason that it is not a constitutional functionality of this sphere of government. There is in practice, no plan in place, to address the structural barriers to improve accessibility of services in child abuse in rural areas, due to the exclusion of local government structures in this process. This arrangement is an anomalie which exacerbates the problem of poor governance in service delivery in child abuse. The attempts of decentralizing social service delivery was not achieving the purpose of taking services to the community, as the decentralized service points were still not within reach of people because of the great distances between communities and service points. Furthermore, these services only operated in the day and not after hours when it is presumed that more abuse happens, and the employed members of communities are able to assist child victims and their support systems to seek help. The study has revealed that some best practice policies such as the KwaZulu-Natal Multidisciplinary Protocol on Child Abuse and Neglect, has come into disuse in the province. The best practice model of the Thuthuzela Care Centre, was currently being piloted in two different hospitals. Communities serviced by the two hospitals running this programme, benefitted from a multi-disciplinary service provided by intersectoral roleplayers. This program is led by the National Prosecuting Authority whose aim was to improve the conviction rate of perpetrators of abuse. It has been established that funding for this programme was obtained through international donor funding. Two very significant factors emerged in this research study with regard to policy development in child abuse, and they are worth noting. The first was a reliance on international donor funding for policy development by individual government and non-governmental sectors. This has compelled policy developers then to comply with meeting the requirements of donor agencies, instead of that of the community. There was a lack of a participative governance approach through the inclusion of the local communities in these initiatives. It does appear as though policy development in child abuse service delivery was heavily influenced by global partners in governance, instead. Secondly, while good governance policies were developed such as the KwaZulu-Natal Multi-disciplinary Protocol on Child Abuse and Neglect, its implementation was not supported nor monitored by the responsible strategic governance structure and this resulted in such policies being ineffective. The policy review process as well was not fully participative and did not promote local community input. While politicians have focused on policy development in response to an externally identified need other than that of the affected community, there has been no provision for the required resources and strategic leadership for ensuring coordinated holistic accessible service delivery. Neither has there been provision for oversight and support services to ensure that implementation happens at a community level. While the Department of Social Development is mandated to be the lead department in matters of child abuse, it seems not to have strongly positioned itself in this regard. This department assumed a weak position in so far as taking on responsibility for leading and directing services to children who are abused. There are too many different policies that are developed by the national department and handed to the province for implementation in local communities. Some of these policies address a similar aspect of service except that it comes from a different sector. This has caused a great deal of confusion on the ground as to which was the relevant policy to implement. There appears to be a rigorous attempt at policy formulation and development with very little regard to the support resources such as additional staff, equipment and the required intensity of training for key personnel. It has led to frustrations felt by intersectoral service providers at grassroots. Child abuse is a phenomenon of living and that requires crisis intervention by significant role-players at a grassroots level when it occurs. The study has revealed that important sectors who impact on the daily lives of people have been excluded from the governance processes. These structures are local government, the house of traditional affairs, business, cultural and religious organizations and the local community. The researcher proposes the utilization of the Governance Model in public administration which should be primarily community based and include all local governance structures. It therefore supports the bottom-up intersectoral approach in its modis operandi. Furthermore, service delivery should be provided from a one-stop centre under the leadership of a project manager. The model embraces ethical and normative theoretical practices within a democratic and developmental paradigm. This model repositions the strategic planning responsibility to local governance structures and proposes that the provincial structures assume a monitoring and oversight role which should be participative and which should include community representation.