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The management of intergovernmental relations in KwaZulu- Natal’s Operation Sukuma Sakhe.

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Governments around the world have come to the realisation that in order to respond effectively to the challenges facing their societies there is a need for coordinated effort. South Africa has not been an exception to this movement towards coordinating efforts to ensure the efficient delivery of services to communities. Intergovernmental relations have been the pillar of the efforts to ensure a coordinated response to the challenges facing society. Intergovernmental relations have a long history in South Africa; they can be traced form pre-colonial times to today. Intergovernmental relations in South Africa have been flexible and changed to respond to the challenges of that particular day. In the post-apartheid period, successive governments in South Africa have been confronted with the challenges of improving the lives of millions of South Africans who had suffered from hundreds of years of dispossession. As part of the efforts to coordinate efforts to fight against the scourge of poverty President Thabo Mbeki declared a War on Poverty in his State of the Nation Address in 2008. The KwaZulu-Natal Government under the leadership of Premier Dr. Zweli Mkhize heeded the call and launched Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) in uMsinga. OSS was identified as a Flagship Program of the KwaZulu-Natal Government and it was to be used to coordinate the delivery of services to the poorest communities in KwaZulu-Natal. The success of Sukuma Sakhe heavily relies on effective intergovernmental relations; therefore, the current study is aimed at exploring how intergovernmental relations are managed in KwaZulu-Natal‟s Operation Sukuma Sakhe, to understand the challenges faced by OSS, to establish the impact of OSS on poverty alleviation and lastly, to determine the role played by community members in OSS. The study was underpinned by both the collaboration theory and the social exchange theory. A qualitative methodology was employed in the study. The population of the study consisted of provincial government officials, local politicians (councillors), a district task team chairperson, a local task team chairperson and community-based conveners. Data was collected using semi-structured telephonic interviews. Policy documents, acts of parliament, speeches, books, journals etc. were also reviewed. Study participant were purposively sampled based on their knowledge of OSS. Data was analysed using thematic analysis to generate a descriptive narrative. The findings of the study reveal that although stakeholders are enthusiastic about collaboration results have not been positive. The study also found that senior leadership support for the programme is not improving its outcomes. The challenges facing the programme were found to include non-participation by government departments, political conflicts between local and provincial governments, inter-party mistrust, lack of resources and the lack of capacity in the community. All these challenges affect the integrated delivery of services to communities. The study recommends that each government department must have people who are dedicated to ensuring that their department is involved in OSS activities. These people must only focus on OSS and nothing else because it has been shown that those officials who are employed for something else and have OSS as their secondary task are not able to deliver because their focus most of their energy in doing what they are primarily employed to do. The study also recommends that all relevant stakeholders must be involved in the formulation of the purpose of the collaboration in order to achieve commitment and ownership. If some stakeholders are not involved in the formulation of the purpose, they are unlikely to be committed to the collaboration.


Doctor of Philosophy in Political SCience. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2016.


Intergovernmental cooperation -- KwaZulu-Natal., Municipal sevices -- KwaZulu-Natal.