Research & Publications

Webinar on Municipal Budgeting and Planning During COVID-19: Key issues and observations from the Webinar
Author: Jaap de Visser and TC Chigwata
Published: Jun 11, 2020

The first of a series of webinars on local government and COVID-19, hosted by the Dullah Omar Institute and the International Budget Partnership, took place on 04 June 2020, in partnership with the South African Local Government Association. The webinars aim to promote best practices pertaining to transparency and responsiveness in local government during the era of COVID-19.

Author: Jaap de Visser and TC Chigwata
Published: Jun 01, 2020

A municipality’s Integrated Development Plan is a five-year strategic plan, where the many interests, wishes and preferences of a municipal community are mediated and put into action. The municipality’s budget allocates resources to this plan. Each year, municipalities review their IDPs and pass a budget for their financial year, which runs from 1 July to 30 June.

Decentralization and Constitutionalism in Africa
Author: Charles M. Fombad and Nico Steytler (eds)
Published: Sep 10, 2019

This collection of essays assesses the efforts of African governments to constitutionalise decentralisation, be it in the form of federalism, local government or traditional authorities.

Report back: International Conference on 2019 National and Provincial Elections
Author: Jacob
Published: Jun 19, 2019

On 25 April 2019, the SARChI Chair, Dullah Omar Institute, and Department of Political Studies (UWC) held an International Conference focusing on National and Provincial Elections of 8 May 2019. The key questions at the conference were: Populism, provincialism, womxn, and election credibility The national and provincial elections of 8 May 2019 are regarded by many as the most important since the first democratic elections of 1994. Four key questions were addressed by four panels of experts, with some placed in an international comparative perspective. This event was part of a series of roundtables on human rights and democracy.

Implementing SPLUMA: A Review of Four 'Post-SPLUMA' Provincial Planning Bills
Author: Xavia Poswa and Jaap de Visser
Published: Oct 25, 2017

The legal framework for spatial planning and land use management in South Africa is undergoing considerable change with a new national Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act of 2013 (SPLUMA) and the adoption of municipal planning by-laws throughout the country. The Constitution permits provinces to also pass laws on the matter. Of the nine provinces, the Western Cape is the only province that has passed 'post-SPLUMA' provincial legislation. This report conducts an interim assessment of how some of the other provinces are approaching this issue. It analyses four provincial planning bills of Mpumalanga, North West, Free State and Limpopo.

Electing Councillors: a Guide to Municipal Elections
Author: Jaap de Visser and Nico Steytler
Published: May 01, 2016

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.

Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations in South Africa and the Role of the Financial and Fiscal Commission A 20 Year Review
Author: Jaap de Visser and Zemelak Ayele
Published: Jul 01, 2014

The FFC is government's primary advisor on intergovernmental fiscal relations. This 20-year review assesses (1) the relationships between the FFC and the various component parts of the South African multilevel government system (2) the FFC's impact on decision making and (3) the FFC's governance and administrative performance.

Local Government Reform in Zimbabwe - A Policy Dialogue
Author: Jaap de Visser, Nico Steytler and Naison Machingauta
Published: Jun 01, 2010

A compilation of chapters on local government in Zimbabwe, addressing matters such as institutions, elections, finance, traditional leadership, powers and supervision.

Are Ward Committees Working? Insights from six case studies
Author: Terence Smith and Jaap de Visser
Published: Jun 01, 2009

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.

The Quality of Local Democracies: A Study into the Functionality of Municipal Governance Arrangements
Author: Jaap De Visser, Nico Steytler & Annette May
Published: May 01, 2009

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
Author: Local Government Project, Community Law Centre
Published: Apr 13, 2008

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.

Strangulation of Local Government
Author: Nico Steytler
Published: Feb 08, 2008

This paper argues that the sheer volume, style, nature and scope of the legislative framework for local government impedes the achievement of local government’s developmental mandate. The legal regime is impeding two key values of decentralisation, namely that municipalities are best placed to gauge community needs and secondly, that they should be sites of innovation and creativity in formulating localised responses to meeting those needs. It is argued that the current plethora of laws may be guilty of strangulating local government, preventing it from executing its developmental mandate.

Developmental Local Government: Determining Appropriate Functions and Powers
Author: Jaap de Visser and Annette Christmas
Published: Jun 01, 2007

This 2007 paper discusses the mismatch between the developmental mandate of South African municipalities and their functions as per the Constitution. It suggests criteria for decentralisation to local government and argues that the housing functions should be decentralised to local government.

Intergovernmental Dispute Resolution in Focus: The Cape Storm
Author: Annette Christmas and Omo Akintan
Published: Dec 01, 2006

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.

Enforcing the Code of Conduct for Councillors
Author: Jaap de Visser
Published: Jul 13, 2006

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.

Status quo report on intergovernmental relations regarding local government
Author: Nico Steytler, Yonatan Fessha and Coel Kirkby
Published: Jun 01, 2006

This 2006 report discusses the state of intergovernmental relations with a focus on IGR within provinces, i.e. provincial-local IGR. It assesses compliance with the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act 13 of 20015 by looking at both procedural and substantive compliance, examines district-local IGR and presents a number of developments in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Water delivery: public or private?
Author: Jaap de Visser and Christopher Mbazira (eds)
Published: Dec 10, 2005

This edited volume contains a collection of papers dealing with the realisation of the right of access to water in South Africa and the Netherlands. The papers were presented at a Colloquium held at Utrecht University in 2005. Bas de Gaay Fortmann presents an international human rights framework for safe water. Jaap de Visser compares water delivery in South Africa and the Netherlands. Christopher Mbazira examines the privatisation and commodification of water delivery in South Africa. Victoria Johnson discusses the complexities of outsourcing basis services in South Africa. Tobias Schmitz analyses the establishment of Johannesburg Water and Bert Raven (et al) present a case study of the implementation of the South African Water Act.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Municipal Manager
Author: Jaap de Visser
Published: Jun 01, 2001

This 2001 paper sets out the roles and responsibilities of the municipal manager. It looks at the municipal manager's duties in relation to the council and to the public and also examines the manager's responsibilities with respect to integrated development planning and performance management.

Making Law - A Guide to Municipal Councils
Author: Nico Steytler, Jaap de Visser and Johann Mettler
Published: Jun 01, 2001

What are a municipality's powers to make law? What are the limits set in the Bill of Rights? And what are some of the basic procedures for the adoption of a by-law? This manual set out the basic rules and procedures surrounding the adoption of by-laws by municipalities in South Africa.

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