Local Government Transformation Focus of Lecture by Former eThekwini City Manager
“Making sense of local government transformation in South Africa: A case of the eThekwini Municipality”, was the title of a lecture by former eThekwini City Manager, Dr Michael Sutcliffe, delivered at UKZN.
The third year class studying Local Government and Community Development within the College of Humanities, heard Sutcliffe expound on the historical development of the city, the constitutionalism of South Africa and how eThekwini was founded on the elements that emanated from the colonial settler period.
He also explained how the transformed municipality system was formed taking into account the notion of developmental society.
‘According to the Constitution of South Africa, local government is responsible for the provision of a democratic government accountable to local communities. It also has to promote a safe and healthy environment in which social and economic development can take place.
‘The constitutional mandate of local government also includes the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner and the involvement of communities and their representatives in local government,’ said Sutcliffe.
However, he revealed that there was still a long way to go to transform governance. ‘Municipalities must ensure they structure the growth path for the future. After all, what we build today is what will define tomorrow. What we do today will define whether or not our children will realise their hopes.
‘Municipalities are but a part of the broader picture of local governance. Our success as a municipality will be directly a function of the degree to which we build partnerships between business, labour and organs of civil society,’ he said.
Sutcliffe challenged the students to be agents of change within municipalities and to contribute to developing communities and society by trying to reverse spatial disorder and changing class and capitalism.
‘Hold people in prominent powerful positions accountable for their actions when it comes to service delivery. Be empowered and be skilled, think about the problems we face and solve those problems by being resourceful and entrepreneurial,’ he said.
Interim Dean for the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Betty Mubangizi, said: ‘Dr Sutcliffe is without a doubt a guru in municipal governance. In addition to having served as City Manager, Dr Sutcliffe was also Chair of the Municipal Demarcation Board which redrew the boundaries for municipalities and has, since then, been involved in developing policy and legislation on local government. His presence in our lecture room was thus appreciated and no doubt provided an invaluable learning experience for our students.’
‘In linking our students with experienced practitioners like Dr Sutcliffe we adequately prepare them for the working world and for fulfilling the ideals of South Africa’s National Development Plan.’