Going Behind the Success Story

The Vuthela iLembe LED Support Programme succeeded in addressing many challenges around the financial management and infrastructure planning in municipalities within the district – due largely to its innovative approach and efficient governance structures.

Successes include the completion of 37 funded projects and leveraging additional funding of R69 million through technical submissions; providing accredited training for municipal leadership in Financial Leadership and Oversight; updated Indigent Policies and Development Charges Policies and implementation of an automated District Indigent Register and improvements in contract management.

Municipal infrastructure master plans for electricity and solid waste were updated; inaugural asset management plans developed (all infrastructure sectors); a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system was designed; piloting a non-revenue water project; and strategies developed to curb revenue losses from electricity.

The internationally-recognised EDAMS Asset Management Information System was installed, officials trained and it is currently being operationalised within the iLembe District Municipality to assist in water and sanitation infrastructure and asset management, including water loss management. It is a comprehensive asset management system that incorporates both technical and financial asset management and is utilised in more than 100 water services utilities worldwide.

Private sector development

Private sector development included reforms in building plan approvals; assistance with title deeds transfers; implementing digital approval processes (Senza-Lula); and youth training programmes.

In the Building Inclusive Growth component key work was done, amongst others, on the green economy, a growing focus internationally. Significant work was done regarding creating the enabling environment for recycling of e-waste. Furthermore, a pre-feasibility assessment of a solar farm located in Isithebe industrial estate provided positive results.

Vuthela Programme Manager Richard Clacey said a large measure of its success was due to its integrated cross-cutting approach.

“This was achieved by designing and implementing a comprehensive programme that conceptualised LED beyond SMME development, tourism and investment promotion. The programme strengthened the business enabling environment through systems-based reforms in municipal finance and infrastructure, the business environment, SMME skills training and partnership development.

Need for balanced approach

“This approach moved beyond the ‘pro-poor’ versus ‘economic growth’ dichotomy prevalent in South Africa’s LED policy and practice and reflected the need for a balanced approach,” said Clacey.

The Vuthela Programme Identified synergies between municipal finance, municipal infrastructure and municipal regulatory functions like development approvals and building plans and sought to address key challenges relating to management, financial management and economic infrastructure planning and delivery shortfalls in municipalities.

Institutional arrangements for the funded programme included all three levels of government, international development partners (International Finance Corporation, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), the private sector and private sector contracted Project Coordinating Unit, all bound contractually by programmatic structures.

Clacey concluded: “I am convinced that the systemic interventions that were implemented to improve the enabling business environment for all enterprises in the district will over time have a bigger impact on economic development in the district than the current LED practice of almost exclusively targeting start-up SMMEs for grant financing and skills development, as important as the latter might still be. It is necessary to provide balanced support to large, intermediate and small enterprises.

Photo: Richard Clacey, Programme Manager, Vuthela