Local government in South Africa: Can the objectives of the developmental state be achieved through the current model of decentralized governance?

Under the new constitutional dispensation, South African Local government was given a critical developmental role to play in rebuilding local communities and environments, as the basis for a democratic, integrated, prosperous and non-racial society.

This study examines the notions of decentralization and developmentalism, and shows how they have become two of the most significant defining features of South African local government. By means, amongst other things, of canvassing the views and experiences of a wide range of local government actors, it demonstrates how the demands of an overly-ambitious decentralisation experiment have retarded the developmental agenda by placing too many demands on local government institutions which are ill-equipped to shoulder them.

Full research report