In his State of the Nation address of 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised South Africans that during his term, the country would see new cities being built. The recent launch of the City of Tshwane’s mega city project in Mooikloof, east of Pretoria, is bearing witness to the president’s dream.

However, South Africa is plagued by electricity supply shortages, and the serious issue of water and sanitation infrastructure, as well as solid waste management infrastructure being equally constrained.

While infrastructure development continues across the country, one cannot help but ask the critical question of whether there will be enough water and electricity to meet the demand from these new developments.

Also, are there adequate landfill sites to meet the increase in demand across the country, and will motorists cope with the already constrained road network in the major cities? These are questions only integrated development planning can address.

Integrated Planning – In the context of local government, is concerned with determining the future needs for different services. Municipalities use planning outcomes to plan for and implement specific infrastructure projects across the range of services they provide.

It is to be noted that the effectiveness of planning depends on various factors which require careful consideration prior to finalisation. These include consideration of economic, social, population growth and migration patterns. The key question is how can integrated planning be used as catalyst for economic growth – and how does this translate to effective service delivery and job creation?

First let us consider some of the pressing issues that hamper effective integrated planning.ADVERTISING

In many instances, sector plans are not integrated, these are compiled to address specific disciplines or sector needs. Sector plans should consider specific sector needs and are developed to cater for that specific sector.

One of the key challenges rendering planning less effective is the lack of periodic updates to sector plans to reflect the evolving needs of the community, driven by factors such as the prevailing economic climate, and subsequent changes in demand for services.

Planning in some sectors is mandated by legislation (e.g. the integrated development plan or the integrated waste management plan), however, other sectoral plans are not legally mandated. In some cases, long-term planning is rarely considered or undertaken, leading to a situation where there is glaring absence of long-term developmental plans in a region.

This results in differing planning processes across various sectors of the economy, resulting in a lack of integration of projects at district and local levels.

The national government introduced the district development model in 2019 to foster effective implementation of government priorities, key among them being service delivery. The district development model seeks to provide optimal co-ordination of government programmes across all spheres of government.

This has primarily emanated from the lack of co-ordination between national and provincial government, as well as between provincial and local government. The result of such poor co-ordination is the glaring lack of well-developed infrastructure plans which consider both the current and the future needs of the communities. The district development model therefore seeks to strengthen co-ordination and integration of services within the municipal context.

The model does not deviate from the existing legislative framework; therefore, it recognises the need for intergovernmental co-ordination and integrated planning.

The intended outcome of the district development model, is a district wide one plan, that is strategic and long-term in nature. In essence, the one plan reflects district wide aspirations encompassing economic, spatial, infrastructure as well as consideration for integrated provision of services, governance and management thereof.

Traditional planning has a role in so far as provision of basic services by municipalities is concerned. However, considering that the burden to create jobs has always been placed on the government, there is a need to consider alternatives to the current impasse, in particular the economic downturn imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Infrastructure planning needs to focus on the provision of basic services in a manner that is well co-ordinated and properly integrated. While the district development model seeks to redress the lack of co-ordinated approach in planning, it remains clear that execution of projects also requires proper co-ordination to ensure communities which are intended to benefit from such plans or projects are not left with white elephants.

Concerted and co-ordinated effort in the implementation of projects, as well as proper monitoring and oversight of such proposed developments is also required.

Only time will tell whether or not the concept of integrated planning is being effectively employed across the country to achieve its intended purpose, only then can it be a true catalyst for economic growth.

*Mabunda is an associate partner at Ntiyiso Industrialisation Consulting.