Local Government Vertical Upward Accountability, Oversight, and the Intervention Mechanism in South Africa

  • Lenhard Hamza Centre for International Migration and Development as a joint operation of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH – German International Cooperation - and the Federal Employment Agency (BA)
Keywords: local government, accountability, oversight, intervention, South Africa


Since democratisation, South Africa has struggled to create a stable system of local governance. There are constant municipal failures. Higher levels of government have to intervene in municipalities regularly. This study, therefore, set out to assess the effect of intervention mechanisms, including preventative measures, as part of the broader accountability and oversight setting. Based on a qualitative research approach, this paper argues that both prospective and retrospective accountability forms are weak. Post-factum interventions yield only limited results. Overall, these mechanisms are not able to form stable local governments and prevent municipal failures. Ultimately, this paper infers that strengthening prospective accountability and oversight mechanisms has the capacity to increase the stability of the local governance system. This finding has important implications for developing new accountability and oversight practices in South Africa and elsewhere.


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