Local Government

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what FIFA has shown us about decentralised democratic systems

The global soccer fraternity was shaken in 2015 when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to charge and arrest high ranking FIFA executives for “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption. Where the FIFA saga becomes more disturbing is that the electoral system and its concomitant outcomes may in certain circumstances be not too dissimilar to national electoral systems and their outcomes, particularly in a decentralised democracy such as our own. Funds transferred from national government that are meant for economic development can become particularly fungible when expenditure decisions and accountability are similarly decentralised.

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The descent into darkness: chronicles of a South African electricity consumer

It’s a Sunday evening and now 30 hours into a power outage. I would have been happy with load shedding. At least, those power cuts last for two hours and there is a defined start and end to it. But in my case, the problem is bigger. Along with millions of South Africans, I have learnt to accept that load shedding and power outages will become a feature of my life over the next few years. Barring the inconvenience, spoilt food and a rather unproductive weekend, I am not overly annoyed by this power outage. After all, it’s been a while since I last drafted a note by candlelight.

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What Zimbabwe’s new constitution means for provincial leadership

From its Independence in 1980 until 2008, Zimbabwe was governed by the Lancaster House Constitution, a document that was hurriedly put together as part of the ceasefire agreement. Despite being amended 19 times the Constitution retained centralised power in the national government and the President. The President handpicked provincial governors and the Minister responsible for local government. These presidential appointees not only ran all local government structures but could also dissolve local government structures in the “interests of good governance and public administration”. The new Constitution accepts the principle of devolution, but fails to devolve any specific powers, leaving the definition of roles and responsibilities open to interpretation. Despite a constitutional shift in the right direction, in practical terms, it seems likely that there will be a continuation of the current situation in Zimbabwe, whereby political power remains centralized within the national government.

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Gratuities for municipal councillors: is this justifiable expenditure?

The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement contains a wealth of information on government expenditure. We should all give thanks to the Minister of Finance and his team at the National Treasury for compiling such a comprehensive and transparent document. In the absence of the MTBPS, little known facts might not emerge in the public domain.

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Ward committees as a mechanism for meaningful community participation

It has been just over a month since the local government elections. Results are out and coalition agreements have been negotiated between political parties. In all of this commotion, we have yet to hear about how our newly elected representatives will better serve their communities. Will they improve on the performance of the class of 2006, which saw increasing community dissatisfaction and violent service delivery protests?

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