n Journal of Public Administration - Research in South Africa's local sphere of government
|Article Title||Research in South Africa's local sphere of government|
|© Publisher:||South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM)|
|Journal||Journal of Public Administration|
|Publication Date||Dec 2008|
|Pages||708 - 724|
|Issue||Special issue 1|
Local government, pre - 1994 in South Africa was characterised by a strong top-down approach. There was little perceived need for gathering information or for directly involving the community in the process of governance. Information about the living conditions or opinions of the majority of the citizens was not required to inform policy directions. The official statistics produced were often of unknown representation and made it difficult to draw broader conclusions from their findings. The findings were often manipulated to reinforce and persuade international onlookers to a particular view of the country rather than to inform or provide feedback about the living conditions of the majority of the country's citizens. The state invested in information as a propaganda tool and as a result, the regime has left no legacy of monitoring the effectiveness of local government.
Municipalities have undergone rigorous change following the democratic elections of 1994 (MAC, 2001: 7; Ntshulana-Bhengu, 2004: 1). Not only has this been expressed by structural changes in the organisation of municipalities, but the roles they have to play have increased over time. Through all the programmes that are implemented in the municipal sphere of government in South Africa, the views of local players on major key performance areas that a municipality delivers on, are important. Municipalities, as open systems, operate in an ever-changing environment, and therefore, need to conduct research in their municipal areas of jurisdiction in order to inform their future strategies. The components incorporated as part of the research in municipal sphere of government need to be of interest to the target group. This would not only assist municipalities in identifying challenges to which they will able to proactively respond to, but will assist in sourcing new facts and opportunities.
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