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

Jaap de Visser


Abstract

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.

Full Text

PDF

References

Carrim, Y. 2009, Addressing the financial challenges in municipalities in the context of a review of the local government model, keynote address of the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to the Institute of Municipal Finance Officers Annual Conference, Johannesburg, 6 October.

de Visser, J. W. and Akintan, O. 2008. Institutional Tensions between Municipal Chairpersons and Executives - Speaking of Mayor Conflicts?, Community Law Centre: 2008.

Local Government Research Centre 2009, SA Local Government Briefing September 2009.

Pressly, D. 2009, Criticism fosters greater efficiency, Business Report, 15 July.

Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) 2008, Local Democracy in Action: A Civil Society Perspective on Local Governance in South Africa, Cape Town: GGLN, 2008.