The Political-administrative interface in South African municipalities: Assessing the quality of local democracies

Jaap de Visser


South African municipalities experience serious challenges in dealing
wit the interface between politicians and officials. Inappropriate
political interference in administrative matters as well as strained
relations between key political and administrative officials in the
municipalities appear to be the order of the day. Oftentimes, the lack
of a separation of powers between legislative and executive authority at
local government level is blamed for this. This contribution has
attempted to draw the attention away from the conflation of legislative
and executive authority in the municipal council while still recognising
it as an important background. It is suggested that, instead of spending
energy on examining a possible separation of powers in local government,
the relevant stakeholders (i.e. national lawmakers, municipalities and
supervising provinces) should consider smaller institutional changes to
the governance makeup of municipalities. Even more importantly, the
political and administrative leadership of municipalities and political
structures that surround them should be acutely aware of the
consequences that inappropriate political leadership has on the
functioning of municipalities and therefore on service delivery.

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