Are local governments governing efficiently and effectively by satisfy the basic needs and provide service to citizens? From what is currently happening, it does not look as if this is the case. Local Government exists for two reasons, namely service-rendering and democracy to citizens, however each and every day citizens are on strike claiming that service is not delivered to them by local government. In this essay, the argument is that weather local governments does satisfy or not the needs of the citizens.
This essay will critical explain the place of local government in the government hierarchy. The argument will be supported by firstly, a definition of what is local government. Secondly, the roles of local government within a democratic system of government will be discussed. Thirdly, the functions of the local government within the democratic system will be explained. Fourthly, values and principles for local government will be discussed. Fifthly, the challenges that affect local government will be explained. Lastly the solutions to overcome these challenge will be discussed.
2. WHAT IS LOCAL GOVERNMENT? Local government is an administrative body for a small environmental area, such as a city, town, county, or state. A local government will usually only have control over their specific area, and cannot pass or enforce laws that will affect a wider area. Local governments can elect officials, ratify taxes, and do many other things that a national government would do, just on a smaller scale. Local government act as an communication between government and citizens, it is whereby citizen can lay any grievance they have with government.
“Local government should not serve as job providers of service aimed at satisfying the basic need of their communities, (Gildennhuys, 1997, p. 5). That illustrates that local government is not all about creating jobs for citizens it is mainly for satisfying their basic needs, it plays a role of helping out citizens whenever they can to satisfy their basic needs, although that the local government cannot satisfying all citizens needs in a certain area. However it is their duty and objectives are to ensure that communities are involved in difficulties of local government and to provide service that are maintainable.
Therefore local government can be defined as a community government that its main concern is providing basic needs to communities. 3. HIERARCHY ROLES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT The democracy system of South Africa has 3 spheres of government in hierarchy namely: national government, provincial and local government. Ismail at al (1997) National government develop and promote the well-being of the whole country, provincial is to develop and promote the well-being of the whole province and Local government it is developed and promoted for the well-being of all its inhabitants.
These levels play a significant role in “delivery of service to citizens, they work together when deciding on budgets, policies and activities for particularly in areas that cut across all sphere” (Cloete, p. 1988). However local government is the most crucial level as it place the most level that gets direct contact with citizens, by that it can easily identity the needs of the citizens .
Roles of local government are to maintaining and ensuring that everything is in order by passing local laws. Local government act as illustrative, and makes informed and responsible decision in the interests of the community. According to (Ismail et al, 1997) one of the roles of local government is to develop and promote the well- being of its local inhabitants, it is to ensure that people are binding in taking the law crucial t and people who break such municipal laws may get fines . Local government is seen as the most transparent level to citizen as it has a direct influence on citizens comparing with other level, however it not the purpose of this essay to the importance of these levels as they work together to satisfying the basic needs of citizens.
4. FUNCTIONS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT 4. 1 LINE FUNCTIONS In quest of ensuring appropriate balance inside their communities between economic, social, environmental and cultural considerations. “Line functions are those that contribute directly to the delivery of service to the public” (Gildenhuys, 1997, p10). Alternatively line function can be defined as relationship between the public and the staff delivering the service. According to Gildenhuys, (1997) line functions can be classified as control and protection function, social welfare function and economic welfare functions.
“Control and protection function are aimed at maintaining order between household and individuals, social welfare functions are aimed at the social aspects and social development, while economic welfare is create circumstances and amnesties for the development of the economic welfare. These functions are directly involved in the delivery of services, hence that they are crucial in delivery of service to people. 4. 2. SUPPORTING FUNCTIONS In addition to that supporting function is also one of the functions of local government and they are also called supporting functions.
” Supporting functions are those functions that contribute in-directly, through their supporting of the line functions” (Gildenhuys, 1997, p. 14). They are supported by the following functions auditing function, economic development function, financial function, judicial function, office and secretarial function, personnel function, resource supply function and town planning function. These functions are all supporting the line functions in realising a local government’s goals and objectives. Without these supporting functions the line function would not be able to operate. 5. VALUES AND PRINCIPLES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
The values and principles of are there for ensuring that local government are doing what the supposed to do which is to provide service to citizens. These are the principles that local government should apply to each and every day these principles and values are to: “Local government must promote a higher standard of professional ethics in its overall system of government and management” (Ismail et al, 1997, p. 8). That illustrates that local government must not be guilty of corruption, unethical behaviour, favouritism or anything that enriches one person at the expense of other.
“Local government must use its resources efficiently and effectively” (Ismail et al, 1997, p. 8). In addition to that local government should use its resource sustainable for future generation and local government must respond to the needs of its local people. “Local government must promote public participation in the management of its affairs” (Ismail et al, 1997, p. 9), that sates that citizens should be informed of whatever decisions the local government is implementing. This can be done by creating avenues and opportunities for the public to participate in local policy-making structures.
“Local government must promote transparency and supply the public with timely and sufficient information” (Ismail et al, 1997, p. 9), that would simple mean that local authorities should not only provide information, this information must also be released timeously “Local government must be broadly representative of the population it serves” (Ismail et al, 1997, p. 10).
Citizens should be served fairly by representatives of their specific areas. Local authorities must provide reasons for decisions taken and communicate these to the public, citizens have a constitutional right to be given reasons for public decisions which may affect them either directly or indirectly. 6. CHALLENGES THAT AFFECT LOCAL GOVERNMENT Local government have many challenges that affect them such as citizens demand more than what local governments can offer. Unlimited resources are also one of the challenges that local government is currently facing and corruption are the main challenges that makes service delivery to be in a slow phase.
Citizens also demand what the local government cannot provide as they want local government to satisfy their needs and wants and many citizens are depended on local government.
“Local government have been under intense pressure over the past several decades to do more with less” (Watson & Hasset, 2003, p. 305) that illustrate that citizens have been revolted at proposals to pay taxes but they have consistently requested more and better services from their local government. That concludes that although that citizens are paying taxes ,but citizens also put pressure to improvement of quality and efficiency of their government as they demand service delivery in their communities. 7. SOLUTIONS TO OVERCOME THESE CHALLENGES.
Local government should come up with strategies to overcome these challenges, they should work together, set long-term goals, to function effectively as a group to come up with an effective plan in overcoming these challenges. According to Watson & Hasset (2003) All these strategies dealt with group processes rather than individuals skills, for example, cooperative relationships and teamwork, policy making and goal setting, brainstorming foe alternative solutions, and organizational development that could at least minimise these challenges that local government are facing.
Citizens should also take part in overcoming these challenges by trying to satisfy their needs not to be fully depended to government and should report any unethical behaviour of local authorities such as corruption they should immediately report that, citizens working with local government that can result in overcoming these challenges. Therefore that can make local government to be seen productively by citizens 8. CONCLUSION.
This essay has discussed and explained the place of local government in the government hierarchy with specific emphasis on the role and functions of local government within a democratic system of government. This was done by firstly, explaining the definition of what is local government in the democratic system. Secondly, the roles of local government within a democratic system were discussed. Thirdly, the functions of the local government within the democratic system were explained. Fourthly, values and principles for local government were discussed.
Fifthly, the challenges that affect local government were explained. Lastly the solutions to overcome these challenge were discussed. 9. Bibliography Cloete, J. J. N. , (1988). Central, Regional and Local Government Institutions. Pretoria: J. L. van Schaik. Chandler, J. (2010). A Rational for Local Government : Local Government Studies, 36(1), 5-2 Craythorne, D. L. , (2006). Municipal Administration: sixth edition. South Africa: Juta & Co Gildenhuys, J. L. (1997). Restructing your Local Government: first edition.
Pretoria: J. L. van Schaik. Hassett, W. L. , &Watson, D. J. (2003). Local Government Management: Current Issues and Best Practices. New York: Sharpe, Inc. Ismail, N. , Bayat, S. , & Meyer, I. (1997). Local Government Management: first edition. South Africa: International Thomson publishing (Pty) Ltd. Meyer, J. (1998). Local Government Law. South Africa: Butterworth publishers (Pty) Ltd. Stewart, J. (1983). Local Government: The Conditions of Local Choice. London: George Allen & Unwin publishers Ltd.