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The implementation and sustainability of pro-poor local economic development initiatives in the King Cetshwayo district municipality.

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The main aim of the study was to critically explore the implementation and sustainability of pro-poor Local Economic Development in the KCD municipality. The secondary objective of the study was to determine how the implementation and sustainability of LED initiatives are organised, assessed, strategized and reviewed in the KCD. The implementation of economic development policies seemed to be a persistent problem hindering Local Economic Development (LED) in South Africa. Local government is a sphere of government that is closest to local communities and is so placed to identify, drive and implement programmes aimed at addressing unemployment, poverty alleviation and developmental challenges facing local communities in South Africa. The King Cetshwayo District (KCD) is not excluded from these challenges, which include the challenges of stimulating pro-poor LED by creating jobs and promoting the growth of small and medium business enterprises (SMMEs). The need to address poverty and unemployment is one of the most critical issues in this municipality. This research study was founded on the theoretical framework of the World Bank Local Economic Development model that involves several stages of LED strategic planning. A qualitative approach was adopted whereby eight in-depth interviews were conducted to interview municipal officials which included the mayor, the municipal manager and LED officials in two local municipalities in the KCD. The study further conducted 14 focus group discussions with community members which included co-operatives. Thematic analysis through an interpretive approach was used to analyse and present data for this study. The findings have shown that LED in the KCD is conceptualised generally as a form of partnership or coalition undertaken between the key players in a local municipality and involves the development of partnerships between the private sector, government and civil society. Moreover, the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) together with other stakeholders, including the municipality, have put measures in place to assist SMMEs to benefit from the RBIDZ activities. LED initiatives in the uMhlathuze local municipality are intended to stimulate both the enhanced growth of the local economy (pro-growth) and to address concerns of persistent poverty (pro-poor). The study also noted that both local municipalities have adopted the LED strategy but they are not sufficiently guided by the strategy to respond to the people’s needs. Pro-poor LED initiatives allow community members to showcase their skills and their desires and at the same time they can earn a living. Both municipalities are, however, not adequately monitoring and reviewing the LED strategies and initiatives, hence most of the pro-poor LED initiatives in the KCD are not sustainable. From the discussion of the findings the study concluded that LED initiatives that are established in different communities, particularly the KCDM, lack uniqueness and face stiff competition. There is also a lack of skills to manage LED initiatives, a lack of knowledge about the processes and the procedures of implementing and sustaining pro-poor LED initiatives. Moreover, there is inadequate funding to facilitate and implement LED and there is a need to involve the people from the planning stage and a request for more community participation.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.