Local government in the new South Africa

“…the creation of a constitutional framework for local government must be seen as the first step in the development of autonomous local government, and that the main task now facing all three tiers of South Africa’s government is the development of sufficient financial and human resources to ensure improvements in the standards of living of poor South Africans.”

On 1 November 1995 the final piece in South Africa’s democratic jigsaw was slotted into place when elections were held to create 686 new local authorities throughout the country. The new councils are confronted with a daunting task, as they have been championed by the national Government of National Unity (GNU) as the main delivery mechanism for social and economic redistribution as well as the vehicle for the achievement of the aims and objectives of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP).

This article argues that the legislative framework developed for local government has an urban bias that has operated to the detriment of a manageable solution to the problems of rural local government in South Africa. The article examines the new structures of local democracy and argues that the need to secure local representation may have been achieved at the expense of functional efficiency. The lack of human and financial resources in some of the less developed councils makes service delivery problematic. If service delivery is not improved it could undermine the new local democracy as peoples’ expectations remain unfulfilled.

The article also examines the efforts to accommodate the political and economic demands of South Africa’s traditional societies and the commercial farmers. The article argues that the efforts to incorporate these powerful elements into the new dispensation have largely failed, creating a potential for future disruption.

Published in Public Administration and Development | Christopher Pycroft | 1996, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Local-government-in-the-new-South-Africa-Pycroft/961b4f02ecbb90d9025f9608907ff69552b60a1d, https://consensus.app/details/this-article-argues-framework-developed-government-bias-pycroft/9068b9a56d705f9383ba3859a6751f40/