Local government in the constitutional dispensation: defining the limits of local government’s legislative and executive authority.
La Foy, Gabriella Bernadette.
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Close on twenty-five years have passed since the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution). The division-of-powers provisions of the Constitution marked a move away from the previous vertical, centralised system of government towards a more horizontal, decentralised form of government. The foundation of the legal system shifted from a system of parliamentary sovereignty to a model based on constitutionalism, the rule of law, and the observance of human dignity, equality and freedom. This study examines the extent to which the division-of-powers provisions in the Constitution have been realised since the adoption of the Constitution from a local government perspective. This work contributes to earlier research by presenting a comprehensive review of state practice to date. The research was conducted via a review of published work including books, journal articles, dissertations, studies, and working papers. Sources for the investigation include legislation, policy documents, government commissioned reports, white papers, budgets and minutes of parliamentary committees. Using these sources, the judicial interpretation of the constitutional scheme for the allocation of powers is examined and compared with the legislative, fiscal, intergovernmental, and administrative practice of governance in democratic South Africa. The thesis draws together trends across a number of areas and presents a composite picture of the current status of government, comparing the constitutional vision for the division of powers between the spheres of government with current practice. In so doing, it aims to identify the manner in which the legislature, executive and judiciary envisage the constitutional division of powers; the extent to which the different approaches adopted by each branch cohere or conflict with one another and the manner in which they have been implemented over the past twenty years. In addition, the thesis also examines possible reasons for the challenges identified in the implementation process before concluding by suggesting interventions which could improve the efficiency and efficacy of current state administration.