Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government

 

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dc.contributor.advisor Bhorat, Haroon en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Craig, Stephanie Ella en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2017-09-14T12:21:53Z
dc.date.available 2017-09-14T12:21:53Z
dc.date.issued 2017 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Craig, S. 2017. Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/25191
dc.description.abstract In a decentralised system of governance, checks and balances are important to prevent corruption and ensure the optimal performance of public service organisations. However, such regulations need to strike a careful balance between not being too simple and avoiding onerous, unnecessary complexity. Furthermore, the devolution of responsibility cannot occur in isolation – it must be accompanied by financial and operational support. Although South Africa has always had some form of a decentralised governing system, the Constitution of 1996 has formally entrenched this into the country's current public administration. Local government, now a sphere within itself, is thus responsible for bringing the Bill of Human Rights to life, acting increasingly as the implementation arm for national government's policies and initiatives. Following the passing of the Local Government Municipal Financial Management Act of 2003 (MFMA), South African municipalities are also required to comply with rigorous, annual auditing regulations. Intended to enforce sound financial governance and prevent abuse of devolved power, the influence of the audits is widely expected to positively impact other areas of municipal operations, ensuring well-run public organisations able to fulfil their service delivery mandate. Indeed, the general public uphold clean audit outcomes – a standard unique to South African municipal audits – as the only acceptable result and indication of effective local governance. However, this is not always the case. By examining the extent to which financial compliance, as represented by municipal audit outcomes, relates to local government service delivery performance, this thesis investigates whether the auditing regulations are appropriately designed to achieve their intended outcomes and asks how much of an impact sound financial management has upon municipal operations. The results suggest that, whilst there does appear to be a weak, positive relationship between clean audits and service delivery in some instances, on the whole the audit outcomes are not strongly related to municipal operational performance. The capacity of local governments to deliver services appears to be far more a function of their operational context - particularly the regional wealth levels, population density, political influence and available infrastructure - than financial compliance and audit outcomes. Given the costs of the current auditing system and difficulties faced by municipal employees in relation to the regulations, this thesis concludes with recommendations for its adaptation. These include amending its current one-size-fits-all design and moving away from a compliance focus towards performance, value-based auditing. In addition, local municipalities should be provided with greater amounts of operational support, as financial regulations alone – even when optimally designed – cannot be relied upon to keep the performance of South Africa's decentralised system of governance in check. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Economic Development en_ZA
dc.title Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government en_ZA
dc.type Master Thesis
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Commerce en_ZA
dc.publisher.department School of Economics en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Masters
dc.type.qualificationname MCom en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Craig, S. E. (2017). <i>Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government</i>. (Thesis). University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Commerce ,School of Economics. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11427/25191 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Craig, Stephanie Ella. <i>"Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government."</i> Thesis., University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Commerce ,School of Economics, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/11427/25191 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Craig SE. Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government. [Thesis]. University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Commerce ,School of Economics, 2017 [cited yyyy month dd]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/11427/25191 en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Thesis / Dissertation AU - Craig, Stephanie Ella AB - In a decentralised system of governance, checks and balances are important to prevent corruption and ensure the optimal performance of public service organisations. However, such regulations need to strike a careful balance between not being too simple and avoiding onerous, unnecessary complexity. Furthermore, the devolution of responsibility cannot occur in isolation – it must be accompanied by financial and operational support. Although South Africa has always had some form of a decentralised governing system, the Constitution of 1996 has formally entrenched this into the country's current public administration. Local government, now a sphere within itself, is thus responsible for bringing the Bill of Human Rights to life, acting increasingly as the implementation arm for national government's policies and initiatives. Following the passing of the Local Government Municipal Financial Management Act of 2003 (MFMA), South African municipalities are also required to comply with rigorous, annual auditing regulations. Intended to enforce sound financial governance and prevent abuse of devolved power, the influence of the audits is widely expected to positively impact other areas of municipal operations, ensuring well-run public organisations able to fulfil their service delivery mandate. Indeed, the general public uphold clean audit outcomes – a standard unique to South African municipal audits – as the only acceptable result and indication of effective local governance. However, this is not always the case. By examining the extent to which financial compliance, as represented by municipal audit outcomes, relates to local government service delivery performance, this thesis investigates whether the auditing regulations are appropriately designed to achieve their intended outcomes and asks how much of an impact sound financial management has upon municipal operations. The results suggest that, whilst there does appear to be a weak, positive relationship between clean audits and service delivery in some instances, on the whole the audit outcomes are not strongly related to municipal operational performance. The capacity of local governments to deliver services appears to be far more a function of their operational context - particularly the regional wealth levels, population density, political influence and available infrastructure - than financial compliance and audit outcomes. Given the costs of the current auditing system and difficulties faced by municipal employees in relation to the regulations, this thesis concludes with recommendations for its adaptation. These include amending its current one-size-fits-all design and moving away from a compliance focus towards performance, value-based auditing. In addition, local municipalities should be provided with greater amounts of operational support, as financial regulations alone – even when optimally designed – cannot be relied upon to keep the performance of South Africa's decentralised system of governance in check. DA - 2017 DB - OpenUCT DP - University of Cape Town LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 2017 T1 - Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government TI - Keeping decentralisation in check: An exploration of the relationship between municipal audit outcomes and levels of service delivery in South African local government UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/25191 ER - en_ZA


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