Leadership in local economic development within the Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.
The aim of the research is explore how practitioners perceive the role of leadership in the conceptualization and implementation of LED in district municipalities. The main objective is to identify leadership challenges faced by practitioners to make recommendations towards improving the effectiveness of leadership on Local Economic Development in district municipalities. The research employs a qualitative method applying the practitioners’ research perspective in the tradition of the reflective approach attributed to Schon (1983). The data was collected through interviews conducted through open ended questions, in which the key-word-in-context mechanism was used to identify emerging leadership themes that assisted in the analysis of the case. The Scharmer (2009) theory U perspective was used to guide action that was to be taken at any given stage during the reflective practitioner research process. The findings are that one of the key impediments effective leadership of LED within the district municipality is lack of political and administrative will to drive LED at a local municipality level. As a result of this lack of will, structures are inadequately equipped with necessary personnel and that LED does not constitute one of the core objectives of many local municipalities although it is planned and budgeted for. An overarching district strategy with supporting strategic institutions with consistent vision driven programmes and budget is critical. This research report recommends that appropriate capacity must be built at a provincial sphere as well to assist the district in educating local municipalities on the place and importance of LED in the transformation agenda of the society. The LED forums must be properly guided towards fulfilling an overarching common LED vision. Such a vision should rally energies of all stakeholders and communities towards the realization of its objectives of building strong local economies, creating jobs and fighting poverty and inequalities, as well as broadening the tax base for development purposes.