Developmental local government in a rural context : a case study of Jozini Municipality.
Myeni, Sithembiso Lindelihle.
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South Africa is facing a backlog with regard to service delivery in rural areas. Therefore, local government reform has been one of the pertinent issues which has occupied the political landscape since the early 1990s. Key to this transitional period to democracy was a realization that different communities have diverse experiences with traditional leadership depending on their geographical location in South Africa. But to a large extent the changes that took place in traditional leadership were imposed on the local structures by the national government. Thus, most traditional leaders and their advisers found themselves implementing policies which they did not necessarily support. This study seeks to explore developmental local government in a rural context through the use of the case study of 10zini Municipality. A key issue in this study is to look at the nature of the relationship that exists between the modem and traditional structures and the impact thereof on development. This study draws from the development literature, lengthy discussions with different experts in local government in conferences, seminars, and interviews with different stakeholders such as traditional leaders, elected councillors, community members, and municipal officials regarding the relationship between traditional leaders and elected councillors in the implementation of developmental local government. The findings of this study are revealing. After ten years of democracy in South Africa, there is still no consensus among different stakeholders on the roles and functions traditional leaders should play in mainstream politics in general, and in local government service delivery in particular. The findings show that the majority of participants felt that there is a need for traditional leaders and elected councillors to work together for the implementation of developmental local government in rural local government. Officials find themselves in a dilemma in rural local government as a result of what they perceive to be the silence of most local government policies on the roles and functions of traditional leaders. Some local government officials and councillors believe that the role of traditional leaders in local government is important. In the Jozini municipality they work with traditional leaders because of the mandate from the IFP political leadership but this does not mean that tensions do not exist. There are institutional and political implications emanating from the findings as analysis shows that there is a need for a closer look at the two-tier model that currently exists in rural local government. This study revealed that tensions exist between traditional leaders and elected councillors. This study also demonstrates that a confluence of factors and tensions affect the nature of relationship and the implementation of developmental local government starting from the national government to the communities at local level. As reflected in the study, lack of cooperation at each level has detrimental effects on the overall implementation of developmental local government in the rural context. Therefore, it is clear that all stakeholders have a role to play in ensuring that there is proper implementation of local government policies in rural areas. However, the government must take a vanguard position because it has got all the powers and resources as compared to other stakeholders.