Guidelines for Local Development

Guidelines for local development structures

In June 1996, the Development Chamber convened a special session on local economic development, which considered a document on guidelines for local development structures prepared by a chamber task group. As agreed at the session, the secretariat undertook an consultation process with stakeholders in each of the provinces and at local level which led to the further development of the document. The guidelines, along with proposals on implementation, is now placed before the Executive Council for consideration.

Guidelines for the establishment of local development structures: an implementation plan
Guidelines for the establishment of local development structures.



The Development Chamber, at its meeting dated 14 November 1996, ratified the Guidelines for the establishment of local development structures. The chamber, at this meeting, established a task team to develop a plan to take forward the guidelines.


The implementation plan detailed below focuses on the popularisation of the guidelines, as a first step. In this regard, roles and responsibilities have been identified and allocated.

2.1. The Department of Public Works will:

2.1.1. Promote the guidelines amongst national government departments involved in local development initiatives.

2.1.2. Obtain commitments from national government departments to take responsibility for the implementation of the guidelines in respect of their programmes.

2.1.3. Encourage co-ordination, at the community level, of the different development projects being implemented by different national government departments.

2.1.4. Promote the guidelines amongst stakeholders participating in public works programmes.

2.2. The Nedlac secretariat will request provincial forums to provide assistance in promoting the guidelines. The Development Chamber implementation task team will meet with the provincial forums, where necessary.

2.3. The South African Local Government Association (SALGA), which represents all local authorities at national level, will be approached by the Development Chamber implementation team to support and promote the guidelines at local level.

2.4. Business, labour and community will hold briefings with target individuals/groups, within their constituencies, to promote the guidelines. Community has undertaken to develop an action plan in respect of its commitments towards the popularisation and implementation of the guidelines.

2.5. The Nedlac secretariat will compile a data base on lessons learnt in respect of the establishment and functioning of local development structures.

2.6. There will be periodic meetings of the Development Chamber implementation task team. Periodic reports will be made to the chamber.

2.7. The use of the Maskahane provincial workshops to promote the popularisation and implementation of the guidelines.GUIDELINES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF


1.1. It is arguably at the local level that development is most urgently required. All stakeholders at this level, but particularly newly established local authorities and newly elected councillors face enormous challenges in promoting, guiding and facilitating the implementation of local development.

1.2. This task is made more difficult by the range of community and local structures that have resulted, both from initiatives of national line function departments, and from dynamics within communities themselves. These structures often function independently, and in competition with each other.

1.3. The result is that local development is often characterised by tension, confusion and conflict between such structures, over scarce resources. This proliferation of structures further results in local authorities, national and provincial government, and other stakeholders, being unable to easily identify the legitimate and representative structures with which they should liaise.


In order to assist in addressing this situation, the Nedlac Development Chamber, undertook to develop broad and flexible guidelines for the establishment of single, development orientated, inclusive and representative co-ordinating structures, at community and local levels respectively.


These guidelines have been developed through an intensive process of consultation involving a special session, written submissions, provincial meetings, and a workshop.

3.1. Overview of the special session

3.1.1. In addition to the regular participants of the Development Chamber, the special session was attended by the following participants: Business South Africa, national Department of Welfare, Sanco, Cosatu, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Institute for African Alternatives, Women’s National Coalition, Gauteng RDP Core Group, Mpumalanga Provincial Development Council, Community Development Trust, Department of Constitutional Development and Provincial Affairs, Durban Metropolitan Council, Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council, and the Mpumalanga RDP Commission.

3.1.2. The structures present provided information on the work that they were respectively undertaking, on local development structures.

3.1.3. The special session concluded that:

(a) Local representative and inclusive structures are necessary to facilitate community and local development. Such structures would provide the basis for the promotion of local development in terms of local needs and priorities.

(b) It was necessary to develop a set of national guidelines for the establishment of local development structures.

(c) Flexibility should be built into the guidelines in order to accommodate differing local contexts, priorities and needs.

(d) Guidelines should be developed in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders.

(e) Organised local government should also be drawn into the process as a key roleplayer in local development.

3.2. Wider consultation on the revised guidelines

3.2.1. The guidelines were further developed on the basis of input obtained at the special session. These revised guidelines were widely circulated to community structures, national, provincial and local government departments, as well as labour and business for further comment.

3.2.2. In this regard:

(a) Regular telephonic follow-ups were conducted to elicit responses to the proposals. Written responses were received.

(b) Meetings were held with a range of structures in each one of the nine provinces, particularly organised local government and provincial government line function departments, but including, wherever accessible, community structures, NGOs, district councils and political parties.

(c) There was general consensus, amongst all the structures consulted in each of the provinces that:

– Local development structures are necessary.

– National guidelines for the establishment of such structures would be of assistance in guiding provincial and local initiatives.

– These guidelines should be flexible in order to accommodate the differing provincial and local contexts, dynamics, capacities and requirements.

3.3. Workshop on the guidelines

3.3.1. A workshop was held on 30 September 1996, in order to finalise the guidelines on local development structures. This workshop was attended by Development Chamber constituency representatives and a range of provincial organisations,

3.3.2. The following conclusions arose from the workshop:

(a) The guidelines were accepted with editorial amendments.

(b) The guidelines will be considered and finalised by the chamber in October 1996.

(c) The workshop acknowledged that implementation of the guidelines would be a complex process, and in this regard, the establishment of a facilitation-implementation team, comprised of representatives of the relevant national government departments, business, labour and community was proposed. The functions of this facilitation-implementation team is discussed further in the section titled “Way Forward”.


The guidelines contained in this document are a synthesis of the contributions made by structures consulted in each province, and are informed by the widely expressed need for flexibility. They are intended to assist and inform community, labour, business and the various tiers of government in their respective endeavours to establish and support local development structures. Stakeholders are expected to draw from and develop on the guidelines within the context of their respective needs and priorities.

4.1. Local development structures: levels/options

4.1.1. Two options/levels of development structures may be established at local level. For the purposes of flexibility and continuity, this document will refer to these structures as:

(a) Local government level development structures: Names for local government level development structures, in the provinces, include local reconstruction and development committees, local development forums, local economic development forums, RDP forums, etc.

(b) Community level development structures: These have already been established, or are in the process of being established in various provinces. They are referred to, in the different provinces, for example as, community reconstruction and development committees, community development forums, RDP ward committees, etc.

4.1.2. A mechanism for participation is also proposed as an option to address the needs of very small local authority areas.

4.1.3. It is important to note, however, that the form and functions that these community and local government level development structures adopt is dependent on local contexts, capacities and needs. Depending on size and capacity, some areas may only have a local government level development structure. Certain communities may not comprise a diverse range of interest groups and structures, and will therefore not require a co-ordinating community level development structure. Other areas may already have structures performing functions similar to those proposed in the guidelines, and these should be provided with the necessary support and assistance.


5.1. Establishment of the local government level development structure

The establishment of a local government level development structure may be undertaken by any roleplayer at the local level, such as the local authority, organised business, organised labour, or a community structure functioning at the local level.

5.2. Composition of the local government level development structure

5.2.1. Local government level development structures would function at the broad local level and would include representation from community structures, labour, business, NGOs, the local authority and other local stakeholders.

5.2.2. As with the community level development structure, the structure and functions of the local government level development structure would also be determined by locally specific capacities, conditions and requirements.

5.3. Functions of the local government level development structure

5.3.1. The specific functions of the local government level development structure would be determined by local level needs and priorities.

5.3.2. However, its function would broadly be to bring together key roleplayers at the local level, in order to identify and initiate programmes and projects to achieve local level development.

5.3.3. This would entail the creation of partnerships appropriate to the particular programme or project that is undertaken.


6.1. Composition of a community level development structure

A community level development structure:

6.1.1. Would be a broadly representative structure representing a single community within a local authority area, for example every ward in a local authority area may have its own community level development structure.

6.1.2. Would comprise all stakeholders within a particular community, for example civics, resident structures, burial societies, church groups, etc.

6.1.3. May, in rural areas, include traditional leaders.

6.1.4. May include councillors as ex officio members, together with local authority officials. This may be useful in order to keep councillors informed of the needs and priorities of communities. It may also be beneficial as the development of priorities could occur within the context of, and be informed by, local authority budgetary capacities and constraints.

6.2. Establishment of community level development structures

The establishment of community level development structures could be undertaken by any of the stakeholders at community level, or could be facilitated by the local authority, for example, through the community development facilitators or local development office discussed below.

6.3. Reasons for establishing a community level development structure

Community level development structures are necessary:

6.3.1. To lay the foundation for co-ordinated, effective and responsible community/civil society participation in development.

6.3.2. To provide all stakeholders, but particularly local government, with an effective link with communities, through which mutual constraints, capacities and needs can be discussed, and partnerships can be forged.

6.3.3. To create an efficient, effective and strong community networking and communication system, particularly in relation to local government, but also with regard to a broad range of stakeholders.

6.3.4. To ensure that development is informed by the needs, capacities, and priorities of communities.

6.3.5. To promote grassroots, bottom up development that is owned and driven by communities and their representative organisations.

6.3.6. To ensure community capacity building (acquisition of training and skills) as a key aspect of the development process.

6.3.7. To create links and foster a sense of unity within communities.

6.4. Functions of the community level development structure

The community level development structure could broadly:

6.4.1. Identify, collate and prioritise the needs of the community that it represents.

6.4.2. Address, on an ongoing basis, problems and needs, within the community, as they arise.

6.4.3. Communicate the needs and priorities of the community to the local authority.

6.4.4. Motivate development projects to the local authority.

6.4.5. Undertake research, where possible, towards facilitating and informing development proposals.

6.4.6. Assist the local authority in project planning (e.g. budgeting), management and implementation.

6.4.7. Secure feedback from the local authority, or other stakeholders, on community development proposals.

6.4.8. Participate in the development projects.

6.4.9. Ensure that representatives of the various interest groups and structures serving in the community level development structure are communicating with their structures.

6.4.10. Promote information dissemination/effective communication within communities.

6.4.11. Assist in resolving project blockages.

6.4.12. Promote partnerships with the local authority, and with other stakeholders such as business, NGOs, ratepayers associations, etc..

6.4.13. In rural areas, promote co-operation with tribal authorities.

6.5. Form of a community level development structure

6.5.1. This would be determined by the local context.

6.5.2. Certain areas may possess the capacity, both technical and financial, to establish a community level development structure that is comprised, for example, of working groups/specialist committees, a secretariat and executive committee. Another area may choose a more basic and less formal arrangement.

6.6. What the community level development structure is not

The community level development structure:

6.6.1. Is not another tier of government.

6.6.2. Is not the local authority.

6.6.3. Is not an exclusive voice of the local community, and should not becoming a community gatekeeper.


7.1. Very small local authority areas may lack the capacity to support the establishment and operational needs of a community level and/or local government level development structure. Such areas may also not comprise a diverse range of interest groups and structures.

7.2. The adoption of a “mechanism” for participation, rather than a formal structure may be an appropriate and acceptable option in such circumstances. While a “structure” implies a more institutionalised arrangement, a “mechanism” implies the adoption of a particular philosophy or approach to development, for example, a “participatory mechanism” may involve individuals from the community being appointed by the local authority offices in order to assist the local authority to identify and prioritise the needs of local communities.

7.3. The adoption of a participatory mechanism could also involve the local authority liaising directly with the various interest groups and structures, for example youth groups, civics, church groups, etc., that may exist within its area of jurisdiction.


8.1. Types of funding

Two primary categories of funding to community and/or local government level development structures are possible, namely:

8.1.1. Operational funding, for the administrative, and day-to-day running, of the development structure.

8.1.2. Project/development funding, to directly undertake development projects and programmes.

8.2. Operational funding is crucial in order to sustain the day to day functioning of these structures. Project/development funding will contribute to the empowerment of development structures.

8.3. However, funding may also be provided for capacity building and training of office bearers and members of community and/or local government level development structures.

8.2. Sources of funding

8.2.1. Government funding, generally, but also for development programmes, is channelled through the local authority, as the accountable structure at local level. Should the local authority not be in a position to provide operational and/or project funding to development structures, then other options to acquire such funding could include:

(a) National/Provincial government, particularly in respect of projects falling outside the area of responsibility of the local authority, such as possibly the areas of health and education.

(b) Other funders, such as foreign donors, business, etc..

(c) National Development Agency, whose role and functions are presently being clarified, but which is likely to fund CBOs, NGOs and other voluntary organs of civil society.

8.2.2. However, in order to build and sustain partnership with communities within its area of jurisdiction, local authorities with sufficient resources and financial capacity should seriously consider the provision of operational and/or project funding to development structures.

8.3. Management of funding

8.3.1. Development structures which lack the capacity to manage development funding received, should obtain the necessary technical and management assistance from the local authority, or even from NGOs.

8.3.2. The local authority should nonetheless be involved in any development project that is undertaken by a community or local government level development structure, as it is the local authority which is ultimately accountable for development within its area of jurisdiction.


Accreditation and procedural guidelines could facilitate the effective functioning of community and local government level development structures.

9.1. Accreditation

9.1.1. Accreditation to community and/or local government structures is dependent on local factors, which may include:

(a) Whether or not funding will be provided to these development structures.

(b) The amount of such funding.

(c) The capacities of the local authority and/or development structures, etc.

9.1.2. Benefits of accreditation

Accreditation may however be regarded as necessary and important in order to:

(a) Expedite formal recognition, by the local authority, of community and/or local government level development structures as important and complimentary partners in local development.

(b) Prevent the establishment of competing community and/or local government level development structures.

(c) Clarify and clearly establish the role of the community and/or local government level development structures in relation to the local authority. Accreditation criteria and systems could be formulated by the provincial government, which would include a clear definition of the roles and functions of community level development structures in relation to the local authority.

9.1.2. Accreditation criteria/principles

(a) Accreditation criteria/principles may include the following – structures should be:

Representative of all interest groups in a community or local area.

Development orientated.

Legitimate in their existence, membership and functioning.

Free of any form of discrimination.


(b) Community and local government level development structures should however embody these principles even if accreditation is not a local authority or provincial government requirement.

9.2. Procedural guidelines

Basic procedural guidelines are necessary in order to expedite the efficient and effective functioning of the community and/or local government level development structure. Depending on the capacity and form of the development structures, this may include the following:

9.2.1. A nomination procedure for office bearers, for example it may be necessary, in order to prevent any particular interest group from taking control of the structure, that office bearers be elected on an annual basis.

9.2.2. Clarification of the duties of office bearers.

9.2.3. Decision-making procedures, which should generally take place on the basis of consensus. However, a procedure for decision making, where consensus cannot be reached, should be developed. This may involve agreement on a voting procedure.

9.2.4. A procedure for conflict resolution should such conflict occur, either between a development structure and the local authority, or within a development structure.

9.2.5. Procedures for meetings, including regular reports by delegates to their constituencies.

9.2.6. A code of conduct for office bearers and members.


10.1. Appointment of community development facilitators

Community development facilitators could be employed within a “local development office”, which would be part of the local authority.

10.1.1. Selection process

(a) The local authority may choose to appoint, as community development facilitators:

– Members of local communities, with a proven track record of involvement in the development of their communities, to represent the development needs of their communities.

– Individuals with developmental skills and/or experience, not necessarily from local communities.

(b) Regardless of the option that is chosen, it must be done in consultation with community level development structures. Delegates from the various structures and interest groups serving on the community level development structure should also participate in the selection of community development facilitators. This level of transparency is particularly important as the community development facilitators can only be effective if they are accepted by local communities.

10.1.2. Criteria for selection

Criteria for the appointment of community development facilitators may include the following :

(a) A thorough understanding and knowledge of local communities, particularly with regard to community dynamics (interest groups, leadership), development needs and priorities.

(b) Previous development work experience within local communities.

(c) Experience in initiating and facilitating community/local development projects.

(d) Technical expertise in the area of development, including project management skills.

10.2. Functions of community development facilitators

Community development facilitators could:

10.2.1. Facilitate the establishment of community level development structures.

10.2.2. Assist community level development structures to prepare motivations for development projects to the appropriate local authority line function departments.

10.2.3. Keep community level development structures informed of progress in respect of motivations for development projects.

10.2.4. Provide technical and administrative advice to community level development structures.

10.2.5. Provide community level development structures with advise in respect of development options, e.g. section 21 companies, trusts, community development organisations, co-operatives, etc.

10.2.6. Identify sources of development funding, and provide information on funding opportunities and sources.

10.2.7. Promote capacity building of community level development structures, and provide information on training opportunities and sources.

10.2.8. Provide a technical resource and support to councillors by reporting to councillors, on a regular basis, on the problems and needs of communities in their respective areas of responsibility. The councillor could then lobby, on an informed basis, at the political level, for the initiation of projects to address the identified needs.

10.3. Training and capacity building of community development facilitators

Training and capacity building of community development facilitators is an integral component of these guidelines. The following issues should be considered in this regard:

10.3.1. The development of a nationally uniform training model, comprising different levels of options, which is linked to the National Qualifications Framework.

10.3.2. Training and capacity building programmes must emphasise, and comprehensively cover, a wide range of techniques for community involvement in project execution. Communities must be provided with the skills to effectively interact with project staff and with other member of the community, to reach decisions, and to provide their support to development initiatives.

10.3.3. Due to the lack of trained community development facilitators, training programmes must also be directed at providing community members with para-professional and professional training. Training and capacity building should also be directed at providing career paths for all levels of community development facilitators.

10.3.4. Training and capacity building programmes should comprise short, practical and on the job training, and could be provided by training institutions, colleges, technikons, universities, etc.

10.3.5. A “know-how” data base on community development facilitation should be established, and funding provided for this purpose. This data base will facilitate the sharing of experiences, and the building of closer links with other community development practitioners, not only in South Africa, but also in other African countries.


The local development office would be established by, be accountable to, and function under, the auspices of the local authority.

11.1. Primary purpose of the local development office

11.1.1. The local development office, would be the locus of the partnership between the local authority, local/ward councillors and local communities/civil society. The primary role of the local development office would be to support the partnership between the local authority, local/ward councillors and civil society. It could however also play a co-ordination role in respect of other line function departments within the local authority.

11.1.2. Depending on the size and capacity of the local authority, the local development office may be located within the local authority’s “headquarters”, or could be established, on a ward basis, within the local authority’s area of jurisdiction.

11.2. Functions of the local development office

Also depending on the size and capacity of the local authority, the local development office(s) could play two possible roles:

11.2.1. Option 1

In terms of option 1, the local development office(s) would play a direct and active developmental role. It could:

(a) Develop appropriate criteria for the appointment of community development facilitators.

(b) Serve as the location for the community development facilitators.

(c) Expedite the channelling of resources into the community, for example through motivating for funding from local authority line departments or from provincial government.

(d) Access technical expertise. This may involve obtaining technical assistance from local authority line departments, provincial government structures, NGOs, or even consultants, in order to plan, design, and implement development projects. It could also involve the appointment of contractors to undertake development projects.

(e) Participation in project implementation: Once the development project has commenced, it will be necessary to ensure that all participants are adhering to the terms of their respective contracts, such as deadlines, and the use of local labour.

(f) Long-term monitoring and evaluating of projects: The local development office should monitor and evaluate development projects over a period of time in order to determine if they have achieved their objectives. It could also, through this process, document the lessons learnt and impacts of each project in order to inform the planning and implementation of future projects.

(g) Promote capacity building of community and/or local government level development structures : The enhancement of the capacity of community level development structures to actively participate in development projects should be built into all local development projects.

(h) Address conflicts, either between development structures and the local authority or within a development structure, for example through information sharing, consultation, mediation or arbitration.

(i) Assess community and/or local government level development structures for accreditation.

11.2.2. Option 2

(a) Option 2 would involve a greater emphasis on information exchange between the local authority and civil society. With regard to this option, the local development office(s) could:

– Provide a “one stop shop” access to:

Councillors, community development facilitators, and technical advice/expertise.

Other facilities offered at the local, provincial and national levels of government, such as registration of births, passports, information on debates in parliament, council minutes and agendas, information on service charges, pay points, etc.

Serve as a source of information on technical matters, as well as on training and funding opportunities.

Expedite the sharing of information between the local authority and communities, but also, for example, between the local authority and small business. Agendas and minutes of council meetings could be available at the local development office.

Identify and inform community level development structures of possible sources of funding and training opportunities.

(b) Depending on local needs, the local development office(s) could also adopt a combination of options 1 and 2.


This section attempts to clarify the relationship between the community level and local government level development structures, with the local authority and councillors, and possible measures, on the part of the local authority, to support this relationship.

12.1. Mutual support and partnerships

12.1.1. Local authorities and councillors are faced with an enormous development responsibility. In attempting to meet these challenges, they are often met with constraints, such as:

(a) Limited capacity (staff, technical, financial).

(b) Inadequate consultation, participation and communication with community level development structures.

12.1.2. The result is often project delays and blockages, and development projects that do not address the real priorities of communities.

12.1.3. It is therefore necessary that:

(a) Partnerships be forged; in order to expedite local development.

(b) Appropriate vehicles to facilitate community participation and partnerships be established and supported: The active involvement of communities, not as mere recipients, but as partners in making decisions that will affect them, is necessary to ensure the success and sustainability of development programmes.

12.2. Communication of responsibilities and priorities

12.2.1. Local and ward councillors have only recently been elected, and communities have only recently been introduced to legitimate, representative and democratic local authorities.

12.2.2. The result is that:

(a) Most communities are unaware of what the new roles and responsibilities of councillors and the local authorities are. Communities must be provided with an understanding of the roles and functions of councillors and the local authority.

(b) Councillors and local authorities require ongoing discussions and input from the communities that they serve, in order to establish what is required of them by these communities.

12.2.3. Again, such empowerment and communication is possible through the establishment of an effective link between the local authority, councillors, and the communities that they serve. The community level and local government level development structure provide such a link.

12.3. The Development Facilitation Act

12.3.1. More practically, local authorities are required, by the Development Facilitation Act 1995 (Act No 67 of 1995), to consult and work with communities towards ensuring local development.

12.3.2. The Development Facilitation Act requires that local authorities formulate land development objectives with the direct participation and involvement of local communities and interest groups. Local authorities are also expected to communicate these land development objectives to communities and civil society more broadly, within its area of jurisdiction.

12.3.3. This approach is directed towards mobilising the support and resources of all stakeholders within the local area in order to achieve the land development objectives. Local authorities will therefore, of necessity, have to develop appropriate vehicles for community, and broader civil society participation in local development.

12.4. The role of the local authority

12.4.1. In light of the above, local authorities in urban and rural areas, should facilitate the mobilisation of all stakeholders to work together in partnerships around projects and programmes.

12.4.2. The local authority, as acts of support, could:

(a) Acknowledge properly constituted community level and local government level development structures as organs of civil society that can play a key role in facilitating community, and broader civil society participation.

(b) Provide resources, for example operational and/or project funding for the support of community level development structures. The extent of such support could reflect the relative level of poverty, lack of resources and the extent to which a community is still disadvantaged, and could take the form of grants-in-aid.

(c) Establish clear lines of accountability, both