n Journal of Public Administration - Challenges and opportunities of democratic decentralisation in sustaining local government in Botswana and South Africa

Volume 46, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The authors acknowledge the legislative transformation of local government in Botswana and South Africa but warn that decentralisation requires more than tokenism. In essence, democratisation at local state level demands the genuine commitment and accountability of key stakeholders such as the state, organs of civil society and the general public, in decentralising and sustaining political-administrative powers. Decentralisation in the context of this article should be conceived as an instrument that balances power relations, more particularly for the locals to plan, make decisions in resource allocation and become the forerunners in prioritising development needs. This article seeks to evaluate decentralisation processes, particularly mechanisms to consolidate the functioning of the local government with a view to ascertaining the extent to which such processes and mechanisms engender people-centred democracy through an accountable and transformative leadership. This is critical at a time when state revenues are on the decline thus threatening to compromise requisite political-administrative support for local government.

In conclusion, the article draws critical lessons that could strengthen the intergovernmental relations as a precursor to render local government effective, adaptive and sustainable and further promote participatory governance. The article further posits that the dysfunctional nature of local governments is not solely caused by the lack of financial resources but rather in part by the lack of political will of leadership. Nevertheless, it is feared that central governments could use the global adverse economic conditions as a pretext to cut back requisite support for local government and render it helpless and irrelevant.

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