The South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Policy started in 2013. It continues the work of the Local Government Project of the Community Law Centre (later: Dullah Omar Institute). Below is a selection of research papers published by the Community Law Centre on provincial and local government matters.
De Visser, Steytler & May - The Quality of Local Democracies: A Study into the Functionality of Municipal Governance Arrangements

Good governance in municipalities is essential for service delivery. Without clear reporting lines, functional accountability mechanisms and a clear separation of politics from administration, municipalities do not stand a chance at delivering on their mandate to communities. This research paper examines the practice of governance in municipalities. More than 30 interviews were conducted to establish how councillors relate to officials, how political parties relate to municipalities and how municipal office-bearers relate to one another. The picture it paints is bleak.

Local Government Project - Redefining the Political Structure of District municipalities

Outside the eight metropolitan municipalities, South Africa's local government system comprises two tiers, namely district and local municipalities. Even where the context suggests that there is potential for the district system to work in rural areas, the instances of success are limited. A key problem is the often dysfunctional relationship between district councils and local councils. This 2008 paper explores options for the restructuring of the political structure of district municipalities.

De Visser - Enforcing the Code of Conduct for Councillors

This 2006 paper discusses the Code of Conduct for Councillors, which was adopted as part of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000. The paper analyses how the Code of Conduct can be enforced and sets out the role of the speaker, council and the MEC for local government. It also presents a case study of an instance in which these instruments to enforce ethical conduct were invoked. Lastly, it proposes a way forward to improving the enforcement of the Code of Conduct.

De Visser & Steytler - Electing Councillors: a Guide to Municipal Elections

This manual outlines the electoral system for local government in South Africa. It deals with the right to vote, the different categories of municipalities, ward and PR councillors, how to field candidates, by-elections, conduct during elections as well as the calculation of results. It is a detailed manual, designed to assist civil society organisations, the media and electoral officers.

Smith & De Visser - Are Ward Committees Working? Insights from six case studies

Ward committees are posited as the focal point for community participation in municipalities. There are many questions, however, about how effective they are; whether they are useful conduits for community involvement in governance; whether, as ‘created spaces’ for public participation, they are inherently capable of playing that role; and whether they create opportunities for real power-sharing between municipalities and citizens. This research report offers contains in-depth qualitative studies of six ward committees. It provides insight into how ward committees are functioning and the key reasons behind the some of the problems many appear to have. It also provides valuable lessons for strengthening the role of ward committees.

May & Akintan - Intergovernmental Dispute Resolution in Focus: The Cape Storm

In 2006, the Democratic Alliance took control of the City of Cape Town after winning the election and putting together an unlikely coalition. Shortly thereafter, the ANC-led provincial government announced its intention to change the City's governance structure from an executive mayor system to an executive committee system. This would have forced the City to adopt an executive inclusive of the ANC. This sparked an intergovernmental dispute, the details of which are discussed in this paper.

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