Efficiency versus democracy : unpacking the decision-making process in South African cities.
Barichievy, Kelvin Charles.
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This thesis probes the extent and consequences of the new local government reforms in four municipalities, namely, Msunduzi, (Pietermaritzburg) Buffalo City, (East London) eThekwini (Durban) and Nelson Mandela (Port Elizabeth). These reforms call for a shift from a representative type of local government to a participative form of local governance and require municipalities to conduct their activities in a more democratic way than they did before. Of particular concern to this thesis is the effect of these democratic requirements on the efficiency of the decision-making process. The research has yielded sufficient evidence to support the claim that greater democracy in the decision-making structures and processes will result in a cost to efficiency. This, therefore, confirms the tension between democracy and efficiency in municipal decision-making. A distinction is made between efficiency and efficacy, in that whereas efficiency is measured in terms of "minimum effort", efficacy includes normative evaluation as to whether the decision-making outcomes really address the needs and preferences they are intended to. This thesis examines the impact of these new democratic requirements on the municipal decision-making process in terms of both theories of democracy and systems theory. Through applying Robert Dahl to the new democratic requirements the thesis identifies four criteria in terms of which democratic operation of municipal decision-making is measured: inclusivity, transparency, accountability and participation. Through reviewing systems theory, the thesis identifies the importance of reviewing the structural, organizational culture and development aspects of the decision-making process to develop the fullest picture of what is going on. The thesis then proceeds on the basis of a qualitative evaluation of the case studies to yield several significant sub-findings including that there are no efficiency reasons for preferring the executive mayoral system over the executive committee system, and good democracy reasons to prefer the latter over the former.