n Journal of Public Administration - Economic development capacity in local government : realistic expectations or unrealistic dreams?




Capacity building in the South African public sector has recently been under increased scrutiny. The main problem seems to be that capacity building initiatives are not necessarily addressing the real organisational needs of public sector institutions. Whether or not this is true, it is of great importance for public sector academics and practitioners to ensure that what is needed by the public is provided by capacity building services providers. The latest economic initiative of central government, under the auspices of deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the "Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative - South Africa" (AsgiSA), places a huge premium on economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation. In local government, a number of responsibilities are placed on municipalities in the search for effective and efficient service delivery. In line with AsgiSA, emphasis is placed on economic development and municipalities are required to create suitable conditions for economic growth. Yet, very little is done to equip all municipalities with the necessary skills and capacity to deal with economics in general and economic development specifically. This applies particularly to smaller and rural municipalities where one seldom finds officials in the organisational structures of municipalities with any economic background, training or skills. The aim of this article is to investigate the need for, and importance of, providing municipal officials with the necessary training for the promotion of local economic development. The paper will, inter alia, look at the policy framework for economic development by municipalities as well as possible competencies required in the field of economics necessary to achieve the objective of developing local economies.


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