Intergovernmental relations in KwaZulu-Natal district municipalities

Tsako, Vuyiwe Princess
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The study is aimed at understanding and explaining the challenges of Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) in KwaZulu-Natal district municipalities. The municipalities involved are Ugu, Harry Gwala and uThungulu district. This is a qualitative study aimed at contributing to existing knowledge on IGR. The data collection was undertaken through document review, focus groups and face-to-face interviews. The participants were Mayors, Municipal Managers and IGR officials within these district municipalities. This research presents three major arguments that clarify the challenges of IGR in KwaZulu-Natal district municipalities. The first and overarching argument relates to municipal culture and bringing to light the existence of multiple cultures that manifest themselves within the dominant culture of the municipalities studied. Data collected on the effects of culture on IGR provide evidence that multiple cultures exist within these three municipalities‟ IGR arrangements, which oppose the required culture and affect the achievement of IGR objectives. For the municipalities to achieve this level of functionality, the minimum required culture is the one where there is a sense of shared and common values, beliefs, vision and purpose that emphasise the need for co-operation and consensus and adherence to applicable norms and standards. This multiple culture aspect translates into different beliefs and views by the different spheres of government on IGR, which ultimately lead to lack of co-operation and consensus. The literature suggests that cultural assessment and management may contribute in mitigating the effects of multiple cultures and improve the achievement of municipal IGR goals. The multiple culture under discussion has an effect on the attainment of IGR objectives, that of ensuring co-operation by all spheres of government in the delivery of services. In consideration of the above assertion, this equates to the view multiple cultures impinge on goal achievement and lead to an unconducive environment for IGR to function, characterised by the lack of co-operation and shared vision. The second argument relates to the municipal political environment. The study views the environment in which these municipalities operate as being characterised by political instability, uncertainty and patronage and highlights the effect that this environment has on the effective functionality of IGR. Data collected confirmed that political instability affects goal achievement and the culture within these municipalities. The third and last argument relates to goal setting as it forms an integral part of IGR functionality within the municipalities studied. The literature suggests that effective goal-setting requires monitoring and evaluation on their implementation. These three arguments presented above sustain the theoretical perspective of this study that connects with the contingency theory of organisational theories, and emphasises that culture, environment and goals influence the design and function of organisations. While the broad theory guiding this investigation associates IGR functionality with the three contextual issues such as goals, culture and environment, the theoretical viewpoint associated with this study suggests that these contextual issues have helped to cultivate the relationship between the contingency theory and IGR, characterised by the presence of multiple cultures, political instability and lack of goal setting within these municipalities being studied . A critical analysis of the data collected and its interface with contingency theory also emphasise the effect of multiple cultures, political unstable environment and lack of goal setting that results in the inability of IGR to achieve its objective, that of ensuring co-operation in the manner in which services are delivery by the three spheres of government. The study underscores and expands on the value of culture, goals, and environment as depicted in the conceptual framework to help understand the challenges of IGR functionality in KwaZulu-Natal. It suggests that for IGR to be functional, proper consideration of the environment in which the municipalities operate is important and it affects the organisational culture and the achievement of IGR goals.
A thesis submitted to the faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 2018
Tsako, Vuyiwe Princess, (2018) Intergovernmental relations in KwaZulu-Natal District Municipalities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,