Imperatives of participatory budgeting for achieving municipal budgeting legitimacy at Metsimaholo local municipality in the free state
Matena, Sello Zacharia
MetadataShow full item record
The study explored issues related to the imperatives of participatory budgeting to achieve municipal budgeting legitimacy at Metsimaholo Local Municipality. The enactment of the 1996 Constitution in South Africa ushered in an environment of democracy and accountability. Public participation within the three spheres of government is a constitutional prerequisite. Public participation is crucial since the apartheid government excluded the majority, especially Blacks, from its processes and decision-making procedures. Public participation in the compilation of the municipal budget, is a good example of active participation between government and role-players such as the business sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), including significant stake-holders. The budget is a powerful tool of accountability because the citizenry will be aware of how government spends their money. The preparation of the annual budget includes a series of steps that begin with the determination of the overall economic targets, expenditure levels, revenue projections and the financing plan by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC). All the municipal councillors have a significant responsibility in approving the budget. Therefore, council plays a critical role to ensure that policy priorities are reflected in the budget. Councillors should focus on allocating budget inputs (resources) between competing priorities consistent with the strategic direction outlined in the Integrated Development Plan. Council must approve credible budgets, with realistic revenue and expenditure estimates. Public participation lies at the centre of democracy and if it is implemented accordingly, it can lead to positive results of sustainable service delivery. Public funds belong to all taxpayers (collectively the entire society); decision making of how the funds should be utilised resides with the legislative body elected by the taxpayers; while the management of the public funds is executed by the government. The reason for the separation of ownership and decision- making is that direct participation by taxpayers on every issue is practically impossible and simply too costly. Furthermore, it is to avoid opportunism in a fiduciary relation so that those who decide on how the funds should be used and those who actually utilise them are not the same persons. The research was conducted in the Metsimaholo Local Municipality, situated in the Free State and comprises of three towns namely: Sasolburg, Deneysville and Oranjeville in its area of jurisdiction, and employs a total of approximately 800 employees of the estimated 150 000 residents. The respondents included: the Executive Mayor; Speaker and Public Participation Officers; Municipal Manager; Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and 4 members from his team; 10 randomly selected councillors from different political parties; 4 members from Audit Committee; 5 members from SAMWU and IMATU; and 85 randomly selected community members from business, teachers, domestic workers and youth. A structured questionnaire as a research instrument was utilised for this study. The findings revealed that municipalities must include communities in drafting their integrated development plan, budget, and in the taking of service delivery and development-related decisions. The respondents revealed that the Municipality must ensure that the members of the public provide input on the contents of the budget. The results also highlighted that the municipal structure should manage its administration; budgeting and planning processes to prioritise the basic needs and promote the social and economic development of the community. Furthermore, the Municipality must immediately after the annual budget is tabled in a municipal council, make public the budget including all supporting documentation. Recommendations were provided to assist Metsimaholo Local Municipality with issues related to the imperatives of participatory budgeting to achieve budgeting legitimacy in its municipal area.