Democratisation and local government transformation in South Africa : a case study of Maluti district, 1995-2005.
Appiah, George Wiredu Kwadwo.
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Since the dawn of political independence on the African continent, most governments have failed to properly develop systems of local government. In many cases efforts have resulted in mere tokenism, and in most cases failed experiments. South Africa is an exception. With the assumption of political leadership in 1994, the ANC government committed itself to a programme of restructuring the racially exclusive and compartmentalised local government systems at the time. The emphasis was to be on eradicating the effects of apartheid. Considering the debilitating aspects of the past political landscape, it was understood that democratisation and transformation would be a long process and not achievable overnight. The ANC government's commitment to restructuring local government was based on a trajectory of transition or developmental theories. The creation of more political space through Civil Society Organisations (CSO) was also promoted. With the introduction of the White Paper on Local Government in March 1998 it was agreed that it would serve as a blueprint for DLG (Developmental Local Government). The latter was also to focus on improving standards of living for previously disadvantaged people. The objectives were to be achieved through decentralisation and the devolution of power. There was to be a shift in approach from ' tier' to ' sphere' . The writer examines the importance of DLG and its ability to fulfil the demands and needs of local communities. The writer further examines the challenges that face DLG, namely administrative difficulties and unethical practices. Millions of rands are recklessly dissipated and siphoned off through dubious tenders. There have also been some measures of success, and these are noted. The writer comes to the conclusion that although institutional structures and mechanisms are in place to support service delivery, they are not responding effectively to community needs and demands. Local communities are still casualties in the ongoing processes of democratisation and transformation.