n Journal of Public Administration - Leadership challenges for successful local economic development in South Africa

Volume 42, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Local Economic Development (LED) has become one of the South African Government's strategies for the creation of robust and sustainable local economies which can help combat the scourge of unemployment and poverty in the country. Important as the concept may be, its implementation has met with mixed success and it has faced many challenges. The article reviews the problems and argues that fundamentally, they are a manifestation of the absence of visionary leadership for the development of local communities. Visionary leadership and management are defined in the context of people-centred, sustainable and transformational development. Visionary leaders, in the words of Davidson and McLaughlin (1999:1) are "innovative whole system thinkers who go beyond the limits of conventional thought in their efforts to truly serve the common good". It calls for the building of capacity at the local sphere, the need to create a critical mass of visionary leaders within municipalities. A pool of leaders should be established to the driving force for comprehensive, pro-poor, community-driven and transformational local economic development.

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