Municipal governance and environmental crises: threats and thoughts
Nealer, Eric J
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Local government in South Africa (SA) has come a long way from the period when there were over 1200 racially segregated municipalities. From more than 800 municipalities after 1996, they have been merged to currently 284 municipalities which now cover every ‘millimetre’ of the country, and are focused on growing local economies and maintaining the provision of a lot more diverse and complex basic municipal services to all their citizens and especially to geographical areas and citizens that were previously neglected. This transformed local government environment has brought about many changes in the nature and extent of basic public services delivered at the grassroots level of this developing country with its limited resources and unlimited needs – especially in the areas of potable water supply and sanitation services. This article will firstly highlight the changed environmental context of public service delivery in the local government sphere of the country before the transformation in relevant legislation will be reported on. Subsequently the nature and extent of current realities of local governance, dynamics and challenges regarding the diverse and complex public services by a typical Category B Local municipality will be identified in the real SA out there. The use of the Politics – Administration System Model by Easton for environmental management analysis will also be illustrated. Lastly, for easy classification of typical characteristics and challenging issues in the dynamic municipal government sphere of SA, the SWOT-analysis format will be used.