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The 10th State of Local Governance publication now available

The 2018 State of Local Governance (SoLG) has been published and is available in electronic and hardcopy format.

This year’s publication, as in previous years, provides the perspectives of GGLN member organisations on the key challenges, debates and areas of progress with regard to governance and development at the local level in South Africa. Constituted by research papers, case studies and project summaries, the publication also aims to provide local government policy-makers and practitioners with practical recommendations to improve policy, guidelines, systems and interventions, where necessary, based on a sound analysis of the context and an assessment of the challenges and opportunities for improvements.

The theme of this year’s publication, Developmental Local Government: Dream Deferred? centres around three milestones – the 20-year anniversary of the White Paper on Local Government (1998), the 15-year anniversary of the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) and the 10th SoLG publication.

The 20-year anniversary of the White Paper represents a critical juncture for engagement with local government issues understood from a multitude of perspectives. Using the White Paper as a point of departure, SoLG 2018 therefore fittingly takes stock of the past and current achievements and shortcomings of local government as well as those of civil society in the local governance space. It is further forward looking, signalling what can and needs to be done across both of these sectors.

SoLG 2018 also provides a warranted reflection on the work of the GGLN over the past 15 years. It celebrates and anchors the networking and learning work of the GGLN which has, since 2003, responded to the continued challenges in the local governance space, speaking to the role of civil society in local governance and touching on many areas of local government policy and practice.

2018 further marks the 10th anniversary of the publication and builds on the work of the previous nine publications. As a milestone publication, the 2018 edition, initially intended to focus on wide range of sub-themes and topics related to the role of civil society in local governance. Interestingly though, ‘civic participation’ in local government - including its importance, the lack thereof, structures, processes, the need and mechanisms for improvement – emerged as a central theme running through all member contributions. This alludes to the fact that, from a civil society perspective, ineffective civic participation, is one of the most critical challenges, if not the most crucial challenge facing local government in South Africa today.

SoLG 2018 specifically advances knowledge and understanding around the dynamics of civic participation in local governance matters. It

  • Investigates the efficacy of civic organisations and ward committees;
  • Reflects on existing tools to improve participatory budgeting and municipal accountability;
  • Offers social accountability ideas/tools to improve participation in land and infrastructure development decision-making processes;
  • Reflects on and investigates the dynamics of citizen engagement in the informal settlement context with an emphasis on democratic engagement structures and mechanisms; the provision of water and sanitation; and the community dynamics that influence trust as well as destructive and disruptive behaviours;
  • Discusses the potential and shortfalls of technology as an enabler of participation; and
  • Offers insights on the land struggles of small-scale farmers at the local level.

An electronic copy of the full publication can be downloaded below and can also be downloaded off the GGLN website ( For hardcopies and any queries, please contact the GGLN Secretariat on +27 21 683 7903 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Sharing the common goal of promoting participatory, effective, accountable and pro-poor local governance, the network strives to provide an interface for civil society organisations to network and share information towards strengthening local democracy in South Africa.