The involvement of political parties in the politicization of the South African local government bureaucracy: the political-bureaucratic relations between municipal managers, politicians and political parties.
Mncwabe, Philani Frank Ronald.
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Several studies (Wilson 1887; Goodnow 1900; Weber 1946; Holcombe and Gwarteny 1989; Rahman 2014; Muhdiarta, Haning, and Ahmad 2017; Dasandi, and Esteve 2017, etc.) show that politicization of the bureaucracy is on the increase globally and as such these studies have been devoted to analysing the causes and impact of politicization on the bureaucracy. Such involvement in the appointments and functioning of the bureaucracy has been argued to be at the centre of controversies in the poor performance, mismanagement, and maladministration of government institutions. Politicization and political control of the bureaucracy have been primarily studied; the generally held perspective that the bureaucracy's politicization is at the core of public sector corruption, service delivery backlogs, governance and administrative failures, lack of accountability and transparency, and poor financial management. Aside from South Africa's transition to democracy that is globally respected without a revolution, the country also inherited a racially politicalized bureaucracy. As part of transformation, reform, and gaining political control over the bureaucracy, the African National Congress government established the cadre deployment policy as an instrument for party loyalists to occupy prominent positions in the sector. While the politicization and political control of the bureaucracy is a global phenomenon and is believed to be the cause of state maladministration, this study attempted to gain some insight into the reasons and causes for the politicization of the appointments and functioning municipal managers in South Africa by political parties. The study also explored the impact on political-bureaucratic relations in the metro municipalities in South Africa, focusing on metros that are highly politically unstable, and such instability directly impacts the role and functioning municipal managers. The study provided a historical perspective on the development of the local government, and the reviewed literature revealed that the politicization and political control of key officials in the local government has a long history in South Africa. The study drew from the literature on the Dichotomous and the Inseparable Political-Bureaucratic relationship theories in conceptualizing and analysing political parties' involvement in the bureaucracy's politicization and political control. The focus of the theories is on municipal managers' influencing functioning, especially in the awarding of tenders and the appointment of municipal staff. The use of political-bureaucratic relationship theories in exploring theoretical perspectives within the field of political sciences and public governance underpins the relationship between political parties and politicians representing the political in government and the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats. The study found a significant connection between the politicization of appointments as rewards for loyal supporters using the qualitative research approach and secondary literature. The study also found that there was also a significant correlation between the bureaucracy's politicization and poor municipal performance, corruption, and maladministration. Further to this, political contestations and in-fighting also impact the appointments and functioning of municipal managers. As the study was limited to a desktop analysis, it is recommended that further empirical study should be undertaken on the politicization and political control of government institutions in South Africa.