n Journal of Public Administration - Rural local economic development : insights from a South African rural community

Volume 49, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



As an approach to economic development, local economic development (LED) relates to development activities in cities, districts and small towns. Globalisation and decentralisation as socioeconomic and political processes have seen a number of municipalities adopting an entrepreneurial outlook. With the ever-diminishing coffers of (mainly) rural municipalities having to sustain a constantly increasing burden of responsibilities, municipalities have added incentive to find ways and means for increasing local revenue and, by implication, broadening their tax base. For rural municipalities therefore, local economic development is a survival necessity. It is a draw card for investors, a source of tax revenue for municipal functions and a nurturer of social harmony. But what are the odds for rural municipalities seeking to create vibrant local economies? In this paper we describe the existing policy and legislative framework for LED in South Africa. Against this backdrop we examine, through the lens of a rural municipality, the limits of local economic development and we suggest a re-focus of the conceptualisation, planning and management of LED interventions in rural areas.

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