n Journal of Public Administration - Locating the role of service delivery within powers and functions of local government in South Africa

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Every public institution is created to provide public goods and services. For the provision of those goods and services, appropriate functions must be performed. This means that every public institution is identified and characterised, among other things, by its functional activities. The of 1996 entrenches specific powers and functions applicable to all municipalities in the state. The same provision is made in Chapter 5 of the 117 of 1998 as well as Chapter 3 of the 32 of 2000. However, local authorities have over long periods assumed functions which are of a wider nature - sometimes for historical reasons and at other times from sheer force of circumstances. Since the inception of democracy in South Africa, historical reasons and force of circumstances have found local government at the edge of ensuring the realisation of development through the delivery of basic services. On this basis, this article puts forward an argument on locating the role of service delivery within the statutory provision of powers and functions of local government. It is argued that the notion of service delivery goes beyond the authority and functioning of local government as a sphere of government. Yet local government bears the responsibility for poor service delivery. The article concludes that there is still confusion in policy and practice on the notion of service delivery in relation to the powers and functions of local government. The policy discourse and practice on conceptualisation and contextualisation of the place of service delivery within the functioning and powers of local government in South Africa is elusive. Role players that are purporting to assume the responsibility of complementing the role of local government in ensuring service delivery are obscure, which results in local government taking the blame for ineffective service delivery.

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