Nico Steytler focuses on the of 47new district municipalities established in December 2000, which share legislative and administrative powers with local municipalities in their areas. As shared authority in local government in non-metropolitan areas is new to South Africa, it poses a number of problems.
The article notes the change in vision from the Municipal Scructures Act of 1998 to the Municipal Structures Amendment Act of 2000, which transformed the district municipality from a coordinator and provider of bulk services to a regular end-user service provider. This amendment not only threw the original, carefully constructed vision into disarray but also left it uncertain where responsibility lies for the provision of basic services. Apart from the dire consequences of removing income-generating services from local municipalities, it also creates a democratic distance between service providers and consumers. Provinces have a significant role to play in ensuring that this complex system works.