n Journal of Public Administration - The myth of the dichotomy in the South African local government

Volume 45, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



This article addresses the question of whether municipal managers should be apolitical when performing the duties assigned to them in the context of the politics-administration dichotomy. The dichotomy model holds that the council does not get involved in administration and that the municipal manager has no involvement in shaping policies. Models which describe and analyse the relationship between politics and administration are identified. These models are dichotomy model / depoliticised bureaucracy, politicised bureaucracy model, model of complementarity, the British permanent model and the American hybrid model. This article recognises a need for 'political appointments' (politicised bureaucracy) within the municipal service due to a threat, real or perceived, of political sabotage by disposal incumbents of the previous dispensation. After the threat of political sabotage diminishes, the government should introduce the complementarity model, with more emphasis on the principle of merit, which is emphasised in the British permanent model and to a certain extent, the American hybrid model. A critique of the politicised bureaucracy model will be provided. The implications of politicised bureaucracy for sound governance and effective service delivery will also be discussed.

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