The state of governmental relations with reference to decentralisation of public safety and security service delivery in the Free State
Tengeni, Tamsanqa Edgar
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The main aim of this study was to investigate whether powers, functions and responsibilities decentralized by the national sphere of government to the provincial and local units of government enable the latter to deliver safety and security services optimally in the Free State. To facilitate research, focus was subdivided into the following four research objectives: To provide a theoretical exposition of what governmental relations and decentralization entail; To assess the structures that coordinates and oversees the delivery of safety and security services, To examine the impact of the relationship between the provincial minister or the member of executive council (MEC) for safety and security and the provincial police commissioner on the delivery of safety and security services in the province. To determine empirically the extent to which the public participate in the delivery of safety and security services in the province. The hypothesis for the study was as follows: The safety and security powers, functions and responsibilities decentralised by the national sphere of govemment to both the provincial and local spheres were not adequate to ensure effective and efficient crime prevention in the Free State. The research methods involved a literature study of primary and secondary sources, as well as an empirical research of public perceptions on the delivery of safety and security services. The primary sources comprised official government reports, records and policy documents. The secondary sources comprised books, journals, workshop papers and academic research reports. The empirical research comprised the use of a questionnaire to examine public perception on safety and security service delivery in municipal district areas served by nineteen (19) priority police stations in the Free State. A convenience sample of two-thousand five hundred (2 500) participants was selected. Focus group interviews were conducted with elected members of the Provincial Police Board. The research findings reveal that: Intergovernmental and bureaucratic politics at the national sphere of government have a negative effect on the delivery of decentralised safety and security services in the Free State. The coordination of the public safety and security oversight policy is beset with implementation gaps at the national provincial and local spheres of government. The Free State Provincial legislature and the Member of Executive Council (MEC) for Safety and Security (who is the political head of policing in the province) have limited and or indirect political and administrative priority over the provincial police commissioner as compared to the national sphere of government and the Minister of Safety and Security. While the theoretical focus of intergovernmental relations is on the decentralisation of powers, functions and responsibilities from national to sub national units of government, empirical research indicates that decentralisaticm has not been matched by effective and convincing public participation in the delivery of safety and security services in the Free State.