n Journal of Public Administration - Public administration theoretical discourse in South Africa and the developmental local government : a need to go beyond modern thinking

Volume 47, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The concept of a developmental local government was introduced while debates in Public Administration were in full swing to suit the post-apartheid state. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 necessitated a refinement of the discipline of Public Administration in South Africa. Local government transformation, however, took place after other spheres of government were transformed. It is argued that local government as a vehicle for realisation of envisaged development was underestimated by role players involved in the transformation of the South African government system. Debates in Public Administration are contributing in shaping the implementation of developmental local government. The space of public administration in terms of the Constitution presents an atmosphere for continuous engagement. The discourse surfaces beyond odds of mainstream public administration. The domination of the orthodox or modern mainstream public administration discourse had factored a simplistic engagement in local government. The society in which developmental local government is taking place is postmodern in nature; there is no unified criterion on which to base judgment of reality of one fact against another. Reality can only be determined locally without adhering to a one-size-fits-all scenario of modern thinking. Therefore the need for ongoing debate to enable realisation of developmental local government beyond limits of rational public administration discourse in South Africa is long overdue.

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