On 1 December 2011 Isandla Institute hosted a Roundtable dialogue on "Local politics and factionalism: Local government as a site of contestation". The Roundtable reflected on the interface between communities, the local state and political parties, and in particular how local politics and factionalism affect local government and municipal service delivery. While recent legislation (Local Government: Municipal Systems Amendment Act, 2011) has been passed to address the professionalisation of local government, a critical question that underpinned the Roundtable was: What other measures need to be put in place to avoid any undue encroachment of 'the political' onto administrative matters? The Roundtable dialogue deliberated broadly on the following questions:
- Does the Municipal Systems Amendment Act (2011) go far enough in professionalising local government?
- How can a ruling party give leadership to effect its policy mandate (manifesto) in a municipality without trespassing on managerial and administrative matters?
- What is the impact of factionalism on the functioning of the local state and how can this be mitigated or overcome?
- What is the role of political parties in strengthening local decision making and local governance?
This document consists of the discussion paper prepared by Isandla Institute to inform the discussions during the event and a roundtable report that captures the different issues that were raised by participants.