Local Government Conference: briefing by the Foundation for the New South Africa

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

09 February 1998
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The Foundation for the New South Africa (NZA) was established in the Netherlands in January 1994 as a funding mechanism to support capacity building of South African political parties so that an effective multi-party political system is fostered.

Mr Jan Mulder of NZA briefed the committee about the hosting by the Foundation for the New South Africa of a joint conference on 'Local Government' for representatives of political parties of both South African and the Netherlands.

A discussion paper outlining the aims and process of the joint conference is attached to the end of these minutes (see Appendix 1). Essentially the content of the conference is to be demand-driven by the South African political parties. A contact person has been assigned for each represented political party (see Appendix 2).

In the discussion period after the briefing, Mrs M Verwoerd (ANC) advocated that it would be more appropriate to focus on the historical period of Netherlands local government immediately after World War Two when it was in its developmental stages rather than the current situation in the Netherlands.

Mr C Eglin (DP) suggested that the general conference might be followed up with a more intensive training process for a few selected representatives from each political party.

Appendix 1

Discussion paper for a joint conference on 'Local Government'

1 Introduction

The conference is an initiative of the political parties of South Africa and will be organized in cooperation with the Foundation for the New South Africa (NSA)

The political parties in South Africa have requested the board of the NSA to organize a conference on local government'

The board asked Drs J. Mulder to make an inventory of the wishes and needs of the political parties in South Africa. He visited the South African political parties in December 1997 and drew up a report.

The board accepts the request of the South African political parties to organize a joint conference on local government. A delegation of the board will visit South Africa at the beginnings of February to further discuss with the political parties, this memo is an agenda for the discussions.

2. General information

The political parties have brought up some practical issues such as:

2.1 Number of participants

All political parties are in the opinion that the number of participants should be restricted.

The general opinion is that apart from the Dutch delegation there could be a maximum of 100

participants. A division based on the number of seats in parliament is preferred.

The proposed number of participants is: ANC 35; NP and IFP 14 each; ACDP, DP and

FF 7 each.

2.2.Invitation policy

Each party is free to choose its representatives. The aim and the issues to be discussed at the conference is to be taken into consideration for the selection. People with knowledge and experience on the field of local government should get preference.

The seven representatives could be: the parliamentarian spokesperson on local government, two members of provincial parliaments (one of them being the chairperson of the provincial committee) and three local governors (rural districts towns metropoles/megacities) and one to the free choice of the party (this implies: NP and IFP 2 and ANC 5 times those representatives). When the political party doesn't have enough executives, it is free to send others.

It is has also been suggested to invite Town Clerks and the House of Traditional Leaders in Kwazulu Natal.

Some time before the conference the parties in South Africa will have to make a clear selection of the participants.


2.3 Conference venue

It is preferred to hold the conference somewhere in the countryside. The board supports this suggestion. At the moment research is being carried out to find a proper place.

2.4. Finance

The costs to participate in the conference, included travel and accommodation costs will be covered by NSA. The participants are expected to participate during the whole conference, otherwise the costs are to be covered by his/her party.

2.5. Period

The proposal is to hold the conference in week week 26 ( 24, 25 and 26 June). The Dutch delegation will visit some districts before the conference takes place. The venue for the conference will partly determine which districts will be visited.

Proposal: Wednesday: reception and sign up. At night official opening. Thursday and Friday are the conference days. Saturday departure


For the organization of the conference a local organizer will be contracted, preferably one with enough knowledge on the subject. The content of the programme will be coordinated by NSA. The delegation of the board will have discussions with possible candidates for the organization during its next visit.

2.7.Conference material

The Dutch participants will have to receive a conference paper which describes the local government in South Africa. Besides, it is very necessary to get knowledge about the 'Green paper on local government'.

The South African participants will have to receive a conference paper in which NSA presents the Dutch local government.

The participants of the conference will have to get the material early at their disposal.

3. Background

Local government is changing in South Africa. In October 1997, The Minister for Provincial

Affairs and Constitutional Development has published a 'Green paper on local government'.

He wants to change the law on this subject. He also proposes a drastic reduction of the

number of districts.

The services provided by local government have to cope with problems on different fields, such as education, healthcare. housing, social security, that is to say, the basic facilities.

Local government in The Netherlands is very developed. It is considered to be important for the development of the local government in South Africa, to get familiar with the development of the local government in The Netherlands.

4. General problems

Related to development of local government the following aspects are important.

a. The growing interest of the local government given the growing scale and globalization.

b. The need to find a balance between the bigger, and often more professional. management layers of the cities and the recognition of the position of the smaller communities (the municipality as community)

c. The relation between local government and civil society specially concerning basic facilities.

d. Instruments or administrative models regarding policy and control on local scale.

5. Target group

The conference is meant for a large group of officials involved in local government.

6. Aims

The conference needs to give a picture of the Dutch local policy and administration in all its aspects and, by doing that. to assist the political parties in South Africa in organizing their own local government.

To promote contact between councilors of different political parties. A start for the exchange between councilors in The Netherlands and South Africa.

To learn how to put into practice the different instruments or administrative models.

To pass on knowledge and to acquire skills for the improvement of the quality of local government.

7. Set-up

The idea is to treat the issues from general to specific. There are at least two starting points:

the perspective of local government and he perspective of the political parties. An extra value of this conference is the question how political parties deal with local government.


The political parties have explicitly asked to present the following aspects of local government in The Netherlands

a. A (historical) overview of the different administrative layers in The Netherlands.

b. An overall view of the competence of the different administrative layers in The Netherlands. The size of the districts and the provinces.

c. The way different administrative layers are financed. This also related to the problems of the big cities.

d. The relation between councilors and civil servants.

The same issues, but in the South African context are important for the Dutch delegation.

Both main lectures will offer enough linking points for further discussion in the working groups. A representative of each political party will be co-referent in the working groups. This stimulates the discussion.

There are different possibilities to set up a conference. Two well-known forms:

a. All lectures in plenary. The discussion takes place in the working groups. The conference will be closed with a plenary discussion between the lecturers and the participants of the conference. It is often possible to participate in more than one working group.

b. The main lectures in plenary. In the working group issues will be preceded by a brief introduction. It is possible to participate in more than one working group. Also here the conference will be closed with a plenary discussion.

8. Topics for workgroups

The political parties have suggested a large number of issues. A choice has to be made out of the following topics (in random order).

Consensus politics and coalition governments. The experiences in The Netherlands are considered to be important.

Local government and economic development. After the elections, the local government is also responsible for the economic development. Points of interests are local regulations (in general) and how to maintain the policies.

Crime and security. A proper way to fight crime is by reinforcing the police. Giving it more power and possibilities. Nowadays, in Cape Town this is financed by trade and industry.

Policy and administration on local finance (financial management, budget, taxes, etc.).

Management of local services. The local government provides services such as education, healthcare, housing and public services.

The relation between local government and the people.

The position of the traditional leaders.

The role of the local government and church regarding poverty.

The problems of metropolitan policy (Megacities). What remains of the small communities?

Competence of local governments to settle rules.

Federalism versus centralism.

In consultation a draft-programme must be set up with its budget during the next meeting.

9. Work plan

To guarantee the success of the conference a proper programme must be drafted.

a. Set up a time-schedule

b. Determine the budget

c. Make up a final programme before 1 March 1988

d. Make arrangements with the lecturers before 15 March 1988

e. Select a venue for the conference before 1 March 1988

f. Select members of delegations before 1 June 1988

g. Mail the conference paper before 1 May 1988

h. Hand in the lectures before 1 June 1988

i. Etc.

10. End

For the exchange of opinions and experiences, joint conferences are of great importance. The transfer of knowledge, economic benefit, education of local politicians, social cohesion and a better understanding of cultural differences and how to deal with them can be important points of international cooperation.

This memo should be a good start for such a joint conference.

Elspeet. J.Mulder 28 January 1998


Appendix 2:

NZA Contact person for political parties:

ACDP Mr Batchelor

ANC Mr T Eggenhuizen

DP Mrs J Hart

IFP Mrs N Brits

NP Mr HA Smit

FF Mr WJ Botha


















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