A critical evaluation of the link between integrated development planning and the budget at Emfuleni local municipality
Skosana, Vusi Right Peter
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Integrated Development Planning (IDP) has revolutionized planning for government as whole, and more specifically for local government. Since 1996, IDP has become a tool for municipal planning and budgeting to enable municipalities to fulfill the developmental goals set out in Chapter 7 of Constitution of the Republic of South AjF~ca Act 108 of 1996 and the Bill of hights. The introduction of IDP and through related legislations such as Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 and Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003, sought to ensure that resources, especially budgeting, is linked to planning, so that the IDP does not become a proverbial pie in the sky or a wish list. Although, there was initially confusion on the role of the IDP and role-players in the process of developing the IDP, subsequent development of IDP Guides and practice in municipalities has improved the understanding of the role and importance of DP and the budget, and most importantly the necessity to ensure that IDP and the budget are effectively linked; and many municipalities are currently developing the LDP internally, not through the service of consultants, thereby ensuring ownership of the IDP process. Whilst many municipalities have made significant progress in effectively linking LDP and the budget, there are still many challenges that remain, and these include but are not limited to the fact that whereas IDP is supposed to be a planning tool for all spheres of government, it (IDP) is still largely seen as a local government planning tool, thereby depriving spheres of government to align planning and resources has been made by many municipalities to realise the goals and spirit of IDP. Despite the importance of the linkage between IDP and the budget and the fact that this linkage has been required of municipalities since the inception of IDPs, this (linkage) has been one of the least successful aspects of the system of Integrated Development Planning. There are also still challenges relating to linking the IDP and the budget. Some of these challenges relate to the separation of the processes of IDP and budget, lack of understanding of the importance of linking IDP and the budget, especially amongst lower levels of employees in municipalities, some councillors and community-based organisations. The implementation of IDP as a subsequent phase of planning serves to unite the total efforts of the municipality behind a strategy to link the operational activities to successful execution of strategy. This would necessitate senior oEclals to assume responsibility; cohesion among Councillors, officials and communities; integrating planning efforts; communicating with all stakeholders; aligning operational activities of the departments with the IDP as an overarching municipal plan; linking the IDP to budgetary processes; and prioritising projects and programmes. For the purpose of the study, the hypothesis was formulated that due to the inability of linking budget to planning system, the Emfuleni Local Municipality is ineffective in the successful implementation of the IDP. In support of the empirical research, use and analysis of the effectiveness of the linkage between IDP and the budget were undertaken. The analysis indicated that there is varying degree of the understanding of the importance of effectively linking IDP and the budget. Whilst senior mangers and members of the mayoral committee seem to understand the importance and processes that ensures the effective linkage of the two, that understanding is not shared by other employees, councillors and the community, hence Emfuleni's inability of councillors and the community to evaluate and monitor the effectiveness and implementation of the IDP.