Local government reform in South Africa: An analysis of financial management legislative compliance by municipalities



South African local government has undergone radical transformation. The reform process included a local government financial management best-practice technical assistance programme (MFMTAP) targeting financial management and especially budget quality reform. Dollery and Graves (2009) earlier examined the efficacy of the South African National Treasury (NT's) municipal budget funding compliance technique for measuring adherence to the Municipal Finance Management Act's (MFMA) budget funding requirements using a single metropolitan municipality case study. This article further evaluates the robustness and validity of the funding compliance instrument as a reform performance measurement tool by comparing the results of four geographically and demographically different municipalities. Also introduced is a performance ‘trend’ instrument similar to a ‘Likert scale’ for comparing municipal performance. Optimal tax revenue theory is invoked to examine this key revenue variable for producing a compliant budget. The article finds the ‘budget funding’ reform component of the Best-Practice Technical Assistance (BPTA) programme presently ineffective and unsustainable. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.