Written evidence submitted by the Local
Government International Bureau (LGIB), the international arm
of the Local Government Association for England and Wales
There have historically been strong links between
South Africa and British local government, with significant anti-apartheid
campaigns led by UK local authorities. Since 1994 South Africa
has faced an unprecedented challenge in redirecting its resources
to achieve equity for its very varied communities. Local authority
reform has been essential to this process. British and South African
local authorities are working together to develop representative
services that tackle poverty, while at national level the South
African Local Government Association is working with its British
counterparts to expand the benefits of such international links.
Since 1994 local government in South Africa
has undergone a series of radical reforms. Its role is enshrined
in the country's 1996 Constitution which recognises it as an equal
`sphere' of government, working alongside provincial and central
government with responsibility for the delivery of municipal services.
A series of Acts have set out new guidelines for municipal demarcation
and structural modernisation, with the number of local authorities
being reduced from 843 to 284 in 2000. These local authorities
are set out within nine provinces, each of which has a provincial
sphere of government.
The South African Local Government Association
is recognised by the Constitution as the national voice of local
government. As such, SALGA is consulted on all legislation affecting
local government. SALGA itself has undergone substantial changes
in response to the rapidly changing landscape of central government
in the country. Core to its mandate is the transformation of local
government countrywide to fulfil its developmental role.
While there is much international interest in
South Africa, SALGA is not fully capitalising on the opportunities
presented through international programmes and partnerships within
South Africa. In association with the UK's Local Government International
Bureau, SALGA is currently establishing a new External Relations
Unit to map, coordinate and promote international activities for
a beneficial impact on local development.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed
between SALGA and LGIB in commitment to this process of support.
The initial phase of the programme saw SALGA and LGIB working
together in 2002 to assess the international needs for South African
local government. The outcome of this research was the development
of a plan for an External Relations Unit, the establishment of
which began in April 2003. Over the next three years LGIB will
particularly provide support in training a designated partnerships
officer, and providing technical assistance in communications
and establishing new links.
A varied range of local authority partnerships
exist between South Africa and the United Kingdom. While these
centre around the sharing of best practice and joint projects
for the development of local government capacity, many involve
a significant community element. It is recognised that each partner
has unique experience to share with the other in an environment
of mutual learning. Current partnerships are:
This technical link has brought together staff
from the two cities on a series of projects which have included
security, tourism and regeneration, whilst promoting community-wide
learning about each country's culture. Now in its fifth year,
the partnership is increasingly active in extending beyond core
city council links to incorporate schools, universities, NGOs
and community groups. A delegation from the Leeds Initiative,
the city's public-private partnership, will visit Durban in autumn
2003, alongside officers working on a new programme of support
for small businesses.
Kungwini municipality has developed an economic
department using Croydon as a model. The two counterparts are
now exchanging best practice in local regeneration strategies
in order to develop an integrated economic regeneration strategy
and cross-sector partnership in Kungwini with an emphasis on addressing
social and economic inequality. Croydon Council is working with
the Borough's Chamber of Commerce on a second trade mission to
South Africa following a successful mission in 2002 which was
notable for its high ratio of female and ethnic minority delegates.
Like its predecessor, the forthcoming mission will incorporate
a wide range of businesses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
A twin relationship acts as the foundation for
these metropolitan city councils to work together on practical
issues. The councils, organisations and citizens of Birmingham
and Johannesburg are committed to a process of learning from each
other. Through the exchange of best practice, information, people
and ideas the two cities have become better able to tackle the
problems affecting large, constantly changing multi racial and
multi ethnic cities. Focusing on education, governance and job
creation both councils continue to collaborate on delivering the
vibrant, learning modern cities within which we all want to live
This new partnership is in the early stages
of identifying areas for council cooperation and community involvement.
Areas of interest at present include exchanges of information,
skills and expertise among council employees, educational linksbetween
schools and colleges and particularly the possibility of internships,
citizenship with regard to young people, and aspects of economic
development and regeneration. Lewisham recently hosted a successful
study tour from councillors and officers of Ekurhuleni who were
focusing on the use of new technology for the provision of front-line
This established educational and arts-based
partnership is currently expanding into economic development through
a tourism and leisure programme.
6.6 TorfaenCape Town
A good practice partnership was developed in
2000 to assist Cape Town's Oostenburg section to develop a social
exclusion strategy and action plan. A key objective was to develop
the management capacity of key staff. The strategy was formally
adopted in 2002 and has contributed to the wider agenda being
developed across the city. The two partners seek to maintain their
relationship through the ongoing exchange of best practice.
6.7 East GrinsteadDundee
This twinning link is based around school partnerships
between the two towns. Significant activities include staff exchanges
and discussions of best practice in education.
An informal link administered by Hackney's International
Association, this partnership focuses on educational exchanges
between schools in the two inner city areas.
The Greater London Authority has established
a "sister city" relationship with Johannesburg.
The NGO Local Authority Action for Southern
Africa is a forum for over 60 councils in the UK with an interest
in South Africa. Founded upon Local Authorities Against Apartheid,
LAACTSA was established in 1995 to promote democracy and development
throughout southern Africa by working with local communities and
their local authorities. In South Africa, activities centre around
training placements and capacity building programmes for councillors.
Now hosted by Croydon Council, LAACTSA is promoting
a scheme for the development of business entrepreneurship in partnership
with local government. This initiative sets out to support local
women councillors in rural South Africa, and women entrepreneurs
in setting up small businesses, through mentoring and training
OFFICIALS: SOLACE AND
The UK's Improvement and Development Agency
(I&DeA) has been central in assisting SALGA in the development
of their initial three year business plan and strategic review,
funded by DfID. I&DeA maintains support for local and provincial
government in South Africa through initiatives such as a recent
study tour for South African officials to the UK on the theme
of local government modernisation.
The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives
(SOLACE) has developed an advisory relationship with its South
African counterpart, the Institute for Local Government Management.
The current focus of this relationship is support for the establishment
of a commercial wing of ILGM, which will be a company built along
the lines of SOLACE Enterprises in the UK. An exchange programme
for senior local government officials is also under discussion.
A COMMONWEALTH PERSPECTIVE:
The Commonwealth Local Government Forum, based
in the UK, seeks to build the capacity of local government in
Commonwealth countries with an emphasis on the exchange of best
practice between international partners. CLGF's current approach
in South Africa takes the shape of the Good Practice Scheme, a
DfID programme of support for strengthening local government.
The Scheme aims to build the capacity of local
authorities in South Africa in devising and implementing plans
for local economic development in relation to South Africa's mandatory
Integrated Development Plans. Nine international partnerships
between South African municipalities and Commonwealth counterparts
are designed to share good practice and develop appropriate solutions.
Overarching these projects is a programme for developing SALGA's
capacity to exploit such international resources for the development
of local government in the country. This programme is involving
the LGIB in supporting SALGA in tracking and promoting international
input into local government and directing this for strategic impact
(see paragraph 4 above).
As of 2003 there is a designated fund for the
development of local government partnerships between South Africa
and the Commonwealth in the field of economic development, in
the shape of the DfID-funded CLGF Good Practice Scheme, to which
South African local authorities can apply, requesting partnership
with the UK where appropriate. This scheme will fund nine partnerships,
some of which will be with UK partners.
Individual schemes have also been supported
by DfID, the British Council and Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
While local authorities are legally authorised to use domestic
resources overseas, in practice they favour external funds or
community fund-raising for smaller scale projects.
As the body constitutionally responsible for
the development of local government in South Africa, SALGA aims
to ensure that the resources to which it has access are directed
towards its own strategic objectives. These resources increasingly
include local government expertise, experience and commitment
from practitioners worldwide. The LGIB will therefore continue
to work with SALGA to build capacity for an increasingly strategic
approach to international input into local government in South
Africa, in order that individual projects and partnerships might
reap the most effective benefit for the country's development.
In the domestic context, the LGIB and its sister
local government organisations will work together to encourage
the coordinated and strategic input of UK local authorities in
accordance with SALGA's plans for local development in South Africa.
Local Government International Bureau