The Herald, 6 June 1969
A PAPER dealing with the problems of administrative law in local government mainly in Southern Africa was tabled at the conference of the Institute of Town Clerks of Southern Africa here today by the Town Clerk of Brakpan, Mr James Leach.
The main problem dealt with was the doctrine of delegation of powers.
Mr Leach referred very briefly to Rhodesia, claiming that his appeal for information regarding this country’s local government had met with no response. However, he did speak of the necessity of delegation generally and listed the tremendous responsibilities in the way of protective, social and community services which are faced by local authorities.
“Local authorities are expected, nevertheless, to perform these tasks in accordance with the highest possible standards of efficiency,” he said.
He added: “Weak administration costs money, hence it is important that the operations of a local authority should run smoothly.” This could be achieved, he said by a judicious delegation of powers.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
Governance of local authorities at both urban and rural district councils have undergone major changes since 1969, spawned by changes at central government.
Whereas whites were in charge of governance at all tiers, now all countries in the region are run by indigenous governments. Effective delegation of powers has resulted in good service delivery.
The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing is the parent ministry that oversees governance of urban and rural authorities. The two tiers are governed by different Acts of Parliament: Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) and the Rural District Councils Act (Chapter 29:13). Both Acts outline powers and responsibilities of key personalities.
There is need to elect literate councillors capable of understanding the local government framework. They should be able to formulate policies, interpret statistics, including financial data and contribute positively during debates on planning, infrastructural development, community and economic development, environment, recreation and amenity services.
With devolution taking shape, it is hoped that urban and rural governance structures will not be found wanting since local government institutions play a major role in the development matrix.