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Limits of Democratic Governance in South Africa, The (2015)

Limits of Democratic Governance in South Africa, The (2015)

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About this Publication:

"A compelling narrative that takes the reader through the evolution of local governance in South Africa, from its historical beginnings through the current time, to shed considerable light on the current sharing of power and resources across government levels.... an important contribution."—Jamie Boex, The Urban Institute

In the transition from apartheid rule to democratic governance in South Africa, what has been the impact on South African society at its base—on the people in the country's cities, towns, villages, and farms? Louis Picard and Thomas Mogale offer answers to this fundamental question, tracing historical trends and measuring change (or the lack of it) in the dynamic between the promise of local participatory governance and the realities of a hierarchical state.

They examine the human dynamics of governance: the legacy of urban apartheid townships and rural homelands (or Bantustans) and its impact on local governance; intergovernmental relationships; and civil society. Their concern is with the state-centric manner in which the apartheid regime controlled black South Africans and the implications of this control for postapartheid South Africa. At the subnational government level they identify two trends: (1) a promise of—or at least the demand for—local participatory governance and (2) local political elites trying to impose political structures and processes on society.

This book examines the clash between those two historical trends and addresses the concern that South Africans may one day share the fate of many in the rest of Africa, particularly those who reside in its urban slums and in its rural areas.

Contents Include:


  • Political Development in South Africa
  • Patterns of Local Governance: Africa's Colonial Legacy
  • The Colonial Origins of Local Control in South Africa
  • Authoritarian Institutions and Governance: The British Come to the Cape
  • From Colonialism to Apartheid: State Structures at the Base
  • The Urban Local State in the Apartheid Era
  • The Local State vs. Local Governance after Apartheid
  • Where’s the Money? The Fiscal Debate
  • The Special Challenges of Rural Local Governance
  • The Continuing Role of Traditional Authorities
  • The Dilemmas of Decentralized Governance

Of Interest and Benefit to:

Scholars of South African history and politics, international relations, public administration and development studies, as well as policymakers and practitioners in the area of public administration and governance.

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