Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice: Reviewing the functions and powers of local government in South Africa

Annette Christmas
Jaap de Visser


The chairperson of the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on local government recently described local government in South Africa as “a chicken whose legs have been tied for too long”. In other words, even when the fetters that bind the chicken’s legs are loosed, it remains at a loss for what to do with its newfound freedom (Tsenoli 2007). This descriptive analogy ostensibly refers to the failure of local government to harness its newfound power in post-apartheid South Africa and to claim its rightful position as the driver of development at the local level, and instigator of bottom-up growth and progress, which is meant to shape and transform society in the new South Africa.

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