Consulting the people
"Do we need provincial legislatures and what are the advantages and disadvantages of having them? How can municipalities involve local communities in municipal affairs?"
These are some of the questions that the government will be asking citizens as part of a process it has launched to examine the effectiveness of provincial and local government systems.
The process is aimed at assessing whether current provincial and local government arrangements are helping to meet the needs of the people.
Speaking at the launch of the review process this week, Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi said the review arose because the government continued to face massive challenges though it was making progress in poverty alleviation and providing basic services.
"It is clear that there is a need to optimise the impact of our systems of provincial and local government and to improve and strengthen the coordinated actions of national, provincial and local government in key areas of delivery," he said.
Mufamadi said while provincial service delivery had improved, "in general the provinces do not have the institutional capacity to respond effectively to demands of different services by the public".
His department has formulated questions on the performance of provincial and local governments which the public is expected to respond to.
The questions were published in the Government Gazetteyesterday.
"The objective is to initiate national debate on our current arrangement of provincial and local government systems and lay a basis for consultation. They provide a broad framework for public and organised formations in our society to contribute to the process. They also serve to provide an overview on the major issues on which policy is required," said Mufamadi.
The objective is to come up with a new White Paper on Provinces and a Review Report on Local Government by the end of next year.
Mufamadi would not be drawn into whether the number of provinces will eventually be reduced.
But one of the proposals in the review is that "potential synergies within and between geographical spaces and spheres that could result in improved developing imperatives" should be considered.
Experts and commentators have suggested that this could mean that the number of provinces would be reduced.
l See page 19