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The role of intergovernmental relations in local economic development planning at local government level: uMkhanyakude district municipality.

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Despite several policy interventions that South Africa has introduced post-apartheid, there are still visible traces of the apartheid legacy through the evident fabric of poverty, unemployment and inequality that profiles the lives of many South Africans in general and those in the rural spaces in particular. This phenomenon remains both an administrative and political quagmire that warrants continued research, policy and integrated development planning interventions. In this respect, the study sought to assess the role of intergovernmental relations in local economic development planning within local government as an attempt to dissect intergovernmental relations from the lenses of economic development planning components to better understand local government challenges and address them. As such, the research study focused on the coordination of intergovernmental relations; the legislative and policy framework for intergovernmental relations and local economic development; the role of intergovernmental relations in strategic planning for local economic development planning; the role of intergovernmental relations in private public partnerships for local economic development planning; and understanding the role of intergovernmental relations in regional economic development planning. A qualitative approach was adopted with respondents purposively selected and interviewed to address the aims and objectives of this study. The research study showed the complexity of the challenges inhibiting local economic development planning and growth. The study further showed the reasons owed to these challenges. The study summarily acknowledges that the impact of an inefficient intergovernmental relations system not only defies the purposes and intentions of cooperative government but equally threatens the very foundations of local economic development and its inherent benefits. The study found that local government does not have adequate policies that address the intergovernmental relations and local economic development challenges established in this study. The study further revealed that current legislation does not consider local government performance on intergovernmental relations as an integral part of local government performance management systems. This reduces the value and importance of intergovernmental relations and thus leads to a lack of accountability on the failures and successes of intergovernmental relation systems. Also, the study revealed that whilst the administrative officials employed in local government may have post-matriculation qualification, there is still a great skills shortage on economic development practitioners who have specialised in economic development and able to effectively drive local economic development within a region.


Doctoral degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.