Reconfiguring local government institutions in South Africa to facilitate successful service delivery: Management by Projects on a strategic level

Authors: Christa de Wet* & Gwai J. Moseki**


Twenty one years of transformation account for major victories in the South African Local Government sphere. Such conquests are recognised as a de-racialised local government, consolidated municipal jurisdictions, a deeply embedded developmental philosophy and a renewed inter-governmental fiscal system that enables financial resources directly to the municipal level of government. Despite these noteworthy achievements, insurgent South African citizens engage in violent protests against: continued “municipal ineffectiveness in service delivery; poor responsiveness of municipalities to citizen’s grievances, and a conspicuous consumption entailed by a culture of self-enrichment on the part of councillors and staff.” (Atkinson, 2007: 53).

This article substantiates data gathered from a comprehensive literature research that depicts the normative, strategic disposition of local government institutions that are positioned for successful service delivery. The normative data was measured against data accumulated during an empirical research in a South African local government institution. A comparative analysis was conducted to ascertain the strategic character of such an institution against the following aspects: the strategic drivers in local government; strategic goals and objectives; an institutional structure; a Programme Management Unit (PMU); governance, leadership, management and capacity; institutional systems and processes; performance reporting, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms; and Critical Success Factors (CSF’s). An 11-item questionnaire directed a focus group session and semi-structured interviews that were conducted amongst senior management, performing on a strategic administrative and management level, in a local government institution. Considering whether the local government institution was configured to deliver effective, efficient and economic services to its community, the findings demonstrated that there is a disconnect between the structure of the institution, strategic drivers, programmes and projects which result in inferior service delivery patterns.


Key words: Local government institutions; service delivery; Management by Projects; strategic level.


*Masters’ degree in Public Administration (MPA). Lecturer, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
**Masters’ degree in Public Management and Governance. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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