Local Democracy in Action: A Civil Society Perspective on Local Governance in South Africa is the culmination of eighteen months of research by the members of the network. The project has sought to produce a civil society-based assessment of the key challenges, debates and areas of progress with regard to local governance and development in South Africa, and to provide local government policy-makers and practitioners with practical recommendations to improve policy, guidelines, systems and interventions where necessary.
Chapter 4 of the Municipal Systems Act (Act 32 of 2000) is clear about the importance of community participation in government processes and projects which impact on local development. Complementing this is the discernible shift by civil society to insist on being consulted before projects are implemented in communities. This insistence is strongly supported by recent court cases in favour of community consultation and participation.
While more South Africans than ever before have access to basic services like water and sanitation, most people perceive local government to be in crisis, with many municipalities incapable of managing finances, delivering basic services and complying with legislation.
Even so, over the last 10 years, local government legislation has become entrenched with ordinary people participating directly in their own governance. The success of two local government elections has also marked the consolidation of formal political democracy at local level.
‘Researching with Communities: Grounded Perspectives on Engaging Communities in Research’ presents a range of personal and grounded perspectives from academics, researchers and practitioners on undertaking research in ways that promote and privilege the voice of the community, out of respect for local or indigenous practices in a culturally safe manner.
On 24 August 2007, the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) met with various civil society organisations (CSOs) in Johannesburg to review the ‘Policy Process on the System of Provincial and Local Government'. The gathered organisations were asked to provide inputs that will help develop and review the process of formulating a new White Paper on provincial government.
“Can Local Government Work for the Poor?” is an article that examines the effects of political, fiscal, and administrative decentralisation on development. Published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), this article offers a number of perspectives from experts on how decentralisation could be made to work for the poor.
To view the full article, click here.
The Isandla Institute report “Mainstreaming Local Government Responses to HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of the City of Cape Town’s HIV/AIDS/TB Multi-Sectoral Strategy” interrogates the City of Cape Town's response to HIV/AIDS by highlighting both the successes, weaknesses and impediments of the strategy and its implementation. The report extracts key lessons and recommendations, which have relevance not only for the City of Cape Town, but also for other municipalities seeking to formulate a coherent and effective response to HIV/AIDS.
It’s time that municipal spin doctors confronted the harsh truth that local government is not a sexy topic across the newsrooms of the nation. Mundane reports about municipal services, budgets and council meetings simply don’t hold broad public appeal unless they are mired in controversy.