South African Local Governance: Ambitions, Experiences and Challenges

Edgar Pieterse
PDF, 2007

Paper presented at Trilateral Dialogue on the Role of Local Government within a Developmental State. Planning Workshop with experts from Brazil, India and South Africa. 26th February – 3rd March 2007 in Bonn (Germany).

The purpose of this paper was to provide a contextual background to inform a trilateral dialogue about the role and dynamics of  local governance systems and processes in addressing poverty eradication and inclusive economic development. The first section summarises the South African government's current conceptualisation of what it means to be a developmental state focussed on the inter-related objectives of poverty eradication and economic development in relation to the role of local government. This frames a more descriptive discussion in the second section on the nature of the local governance system in South Africa as it has evolved since political freedom in 1994. The third section explores what we have learnt about the complexity and challenges associated with implementing the local  governance system between 2000-2006 and how these lessons have given rise to a more fine-tuned policy agenda for local government for the period  2006-2011. The fourth section then sets out the implications of these experiences for critical policy questions at the heart of this trilateral dialogue—inter-governmental  coordination, regionalism, development planning, civil society dynamics and participation, technocratic dangers and sustainability challenges. 

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