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The management of change in local government : a case study of the north local council.

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In this dissertation a study of the management of change in local government is undertaken with specific focus on the North Local Council area of the Durban Metropolitan Council. In the previous era municipalities were structured to coincide with the system of separate development under apartheid. The new democratic order in South Africa at national and provincial levels ushered in the need to transform municipalities in various ways as follows: From a system of apartheid to a system of democracy. From being financially unsustainable to being sustainable. From merely providing basic services to being developmental in nature. From being tiny enclaves to covering broader catchment areas. From doing isolated land use planning to undertaking integrated development planning holistically. From being the sole service provider of municipal services to being service facilitators in certain instances. From being the regulator of development to being the facilitator of development. The above challenges were presented to all the roleplayers in municipal government to transform municipalities to meet these challenges. Change impacts on everyone in one way or another within the system that has changed. In a public environment this could mean millions of people. Municipal government was programmed to change over three phases, namely, the pre-interim phase, the interim phase and the final phase of transformation. Municipal government is currently in the interim phase of transformation and will reach the final phase of its transformation after the next municipal elections which are expected to take place any time between November 2000 and February 2001. During the apartheid era municipal government had numerous failings. The system of separate development saw the White minority having the best land which was close to economic activities and tourist facilities much to the detriment of the Black majority who were only allowed to occupy land that was far from any economic activity. Based on this method of land allocation there were wealthy White municipalities and poor Black municipalities. Blacks, mainly the labourer class, contributed to the economic growth of White municipalities whilst the areas in which they lived lacked the infrastructure and other municipal services some distance away from where they worked. The challenge to transform municipalities means that the basic needs of people ought to be linked to economic activities. This is quite a challenge given the innumerable constraints in the environment. Separate developments coupled with abject poverty the majority of people suffered from, will take time to overcome. The Indians in Chatsworth, Whites in Umhlanga Rocks and the Africans in Kwa-Mashu will be with us for a long time to come. It must be accepted that real change to overcome the effects of apartheid will not happen overnight. It will take time. However, every effort must be made to speed up the process of change to enable South Africans to benefit sooner rather than later from its chosen course of democracy. The key to achieving this would be to integrate development for which integrated development planning is a prerequisite. This dissertation provides a historical overview of municipal government in South Africa during the apartheid era and thereafter proceeds to document the post apartheid transformation of municipalities, with special focus on the North Local Council of the Durban Metropolitan region. The study also documents and evaluates new legislation that will set municipalities on the 'final phase' in its transformation. The penultimate chapter is dedicated to 'change management' which includes the theory of change and the final chapter make's general conclusions and offers several recommendations. RECOMMENDATIONS: The following recommendations have been made at the end of the study. These include: ? Municipalities must be democratic and transparent Democracy and transparency must be prevalent at the local sphere of government before South Africans can claim that their country has transformed from the legacy of apartheid to a fully fledged democracy. The way municipalities are structured is therefore important to the measure of transparency and democracy that could be achieved. If, for example, they are too large, with vast areas that are inaccessible, democracy and transparency could be compromised. ? Municipalities must be financially viable For municipalities to be effective they must be financially viable. Many of the apartheid structured municipalities relied on the national government for their funding which was grossly insufficient. This position needs to be remedied in the restructuring and demarcation of municipalities so as to ensure their financial viability. ? Promote mixed use zoning of land wherever feasible Bringing people closer to their places of employment will reduce travelling time and costs as well as improve their social well-being. ? Recognise that each town or area will have features that are unique and must be taken into account in any transformation The legislature is required to establish a framework for the orderly transformation of municipalities from apartheid to democracy. In so doing the legislation must be flexible to enable people to live out their new found democracy. ? Change must be processed in manageable portions To enable change to be managed properly it must be processed in manageable portions to enable resources allocated to manage change cope. ? Any new system must be given adequate time to settle Change and especially major change takes time. It must be afforded the time to settle. For example, the Durban Metropolitan Council started to reap the benefits of its transformation in 1999 although the transformation process began in 1994 and took effect in 1995 with the establishment of the transitional councils. However, in March 1998 the national government pronounced that the transformation of municipalities across the country was inadequate and embarked on a new transformation process. ? Senior management must be made part of the change process The technical expertise and experience of senior management must be utilised by their councils during the transformation of municipalities. ? The organisation must fit reality on the ground Municipalities must be able to meet the requirements of its citizens and consumers. When municipalities are being transformed the realities on the ground must be taken into account. ? A process for change must be determined and then change must be implemented according to that predetermined process Change must be planned and managed and must be recognised as a process and not an event. ? Avoid organisational change that is ineffective Change is instituted to improve any given situation. If change does not improve the situation or makes it worse than it already is, then such change must be avoided.


Thesis (MPA)-University of Durban-Westville, 1999.


Local government--Management--KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Local government--KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Theses--Public administration.