Municipal Matters: What is an IDP?

According to the Education Training Unit the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) is a strategic planning instrument that guides and informs all planning and development, and all decisions with regards to planning, management and development, in a municipality.

The IDP is a diverse document that must help remove the legacy of apartheid and keep the municipality focussed on improving the lives of the people who live within the geographic area through improving infrastructure, extending services and enhancing economic growth and business development.


Read: The 5 steps of an IDP

It is a forward-looking document that maps out the development over a five-year period. This is reviewed every year during that period.

Key performance areas include Spatial Analysis; Basic Service Delivery; Local Economic Development; Municipal Transformation and Organisational Development; Municipal Financial Viability and Management; and Good Governance and Public Participation.

In some circles it is referred to as a “business plan”.

IDPs by their very nature are long-term documents, which follow a legislated framework governed by the Municipal Systems Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act. This makes them bureaucratic by nature, resulting in a tick-box exercise by the officials who are tasked with creating and formulating the document.


This means that any community organisation that wants to capitalise on the IDP process must take a long-term approach to getting their issues on the local agenda.

This long-term approach will include making sure your organisation is recognised by the municipality as a “key stakeholder” and that the LCO’s members comment annually on the IDP and promote the need for action on local issues.


The IDP is a requirement all municipalities must adhere to. It sets out the planning priorities over a five-year period that runs concurrently with the local government election cycle.

The municipality is expected to review the IDP on a yearly basis throughout the political term of office and make sure its annual budget aligns with the objectives of the IDP.

The IDP must:

  • Link, integrate and coordinate plans and proposals aimed at the future development of the municipality.
  • Align what resources and capacity are available with the implementation plan.
  • Become the backbone on which annual budgets are based.
  • Be compatible with neighbouring municipalities, national and provincial development plans.

Municipalities are expected to begin the review process of the IDP, otherwise known as a Process Plan, which runs concurrently with the drafting of the annual budget, at least 10 months before the start of the budgeted year.

The schedule for how they intend to do this must be published by no later than September on the municipal website.

When a new term of office begins at the municipality, the council can either adopt the existing IDP or develop a new IDP that is in line with its election promises and objectives.

How do you get involved?

Community activists and organisations have two ways of getting involved in the IDP process.

All IDP Process Plans allow for the municipality’s political and administrative leadership to engage with key stakeholders early on in the IDP review process.

As a properly constituted Local Community Organisation (LCO) you are entitled to contact the IDP and Budgeting Office at the municipality and inform them that your organisation is a key stakeholder.

This will give you early access to the process where you will be able to put your community’s needs on the agenda.

By no later than March 31, the IDP and the budget must be tabled for public comment. This is the second opportunity that your community has with regards to commenting on the IDP. It is important to get every member of your community to make individual inputs.

While all annual IDP reviews are important, getting your position, demands, wants and needs in the first iteration of the IDP at the beginning of the council’s elected period is of vital importance.

Why should there be an IDP?

The IDP, taking into account the available resources, helps local municipalities focus on the core needs of the local community. 

For example, the same community may require both a sports centre and traffic calming measures, but in a particular budget cycle only one of these can be delivered on. The municipality will need to assess which is more important and cost effective to deliver.

Service delivery is a key task of any municipality. However, it is impossible for officials and councillors to know of every issue that exists. The IDP allows community members to raise service delivery expectations directly with the municipality, and should help the municipality direct its finite resources.

Furthermore, an IDP, besides inculcating a culture of participatory democracy, provides certainty, and certainty is what business requires to operate. The document builds trust in the future.

What is the IDP Review Process?

The review process is a schedule the municipality must develop in order to review their IDP annually.

It provides guidelines, required by the Municipal Financial Management Act (MFMA) and Municipal Systems Act, on how the IDP should be reviewed.

The plan is important because the MFMA requires it to be released for public comment no later than March 31. Furthermore, it must be made final before the end of the financial year. Without the schedule these two key milestones will probably be missed.

The preparation of an IDP Review Process Plan must include the following:

  • A programme specifying the timeframes for the different planning steps.
  • Appropriate mechanisms, process and procedures for consultation and participation of local communities, organs of state, traditional authorities, and other role players in the Integrated Development Plan drafting process.
  • An indication of the organisational arrangements, i.e. policy and legislation.
  • Mechanisms and procedures for vertical and horizontal alignment.