Assessment of different approaches to public service provision by the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality

Kwangwane, Thulani Thompson (2008-12)

Thesis (MPA (School of Public Management and Planning))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


Since its establishment in the 19th century, the City of Johannesburg has metamorphosed from a gold mining dormitory, a segregated town to a modern metropolitan municipality that is one of the flagships of South African municipalities. The formerly apartheid city had the legacy of fragmentation along racial lines based on the disintegrated economic logic that systematically developed areas disproportionately with black urban and peri-urban areas at the mercy of the white urban areas1. The advent of democracy in 1994 necessitated the city’s transformation into a democratic, non-racial, developmental and mega municipality encompassing the townships that were previously on its periphery. This required the national government, as the superior government to formulate a regulatory framework for local government to foster a developmental orientation, democracy, good governance and accountability to the constituent inhabitants, provincial and national government. Similar to all other municipalities country wide, it became paramount to improve the provision of public services to cover the backlogs that were created by the previous separate development policies of apartheid, but specific to Johannesburg, to maintain its position as the biggest city by population, gross domestic expenditure and economic growth. In this study the researcher maintains the seven assumptions advanced by Caiden (1982:14-6) about public administration i.e. that it is unavoidable, expects obedience, has priority, has exceptional size, has political top management, poses difficulties in performance measurement and that more is expected from it. Although public management is not entirely unique in the above ways due to the phenomenon of new public management (NPM), it is easy in the South African context to identify public administration through the schedules in the Constitution (1996), the Public Finance Management Act, 2002 (PFMA)2 and the formation structures of service providing municipal entities. Public policy analysis literature documents the paradigm shift in public management from traditional bureaucratic structure to decentralisation, NPM and policy networks amid the complexity theory in the public service endeavour to provide services. The local legislature i.e. the municipal council is granted the authority over the sphere of work of the municipality and therefore has the final say in the running of the municipality to meet the expectations of the electorate. In this study the researcher focuses on the analysis of the council’s choices of the above public management structures or policies options in exercising its authority. The council has to decide on functional activities i.e. municipal services from what the Constitution (1996) allows and decide on the executive institutions that are tasked to execute the functions within the budgetary allocations. Regarding research methodology, annual reports, departmental reports, AG performance reports, community complaints, council meeting minutes, provincial government reports, national treasury reports and primary data from questionnaires and expert interviews were consulted to answer the questions on the levels effectiveness and efficiency. It was found that the provision of services has substantially improved as from the beginning of the 21st century and the reason for this improvement is the public service reforms that include NPM. The semi permanency of entities and utilities could inhibit the provision of services in future. It was also found that the weaknesses with the utilities and entities can well be covered by the implementation of policy networks and the municipality finds it difficult to cope under exogenous complexity challenges.

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