Book Review. Local Government Transformation in South Africa

Date01 December 1996
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-162X(199612)16:5<521::AID-PAD915>3.0.CO;2-L
AuthorDavid Pasteur
Published date01 December 1996
Book
reviews
521
The politics of reform reveal that reform must first be politically desirable to the leadership
if it is to be successful. The desirability of reform increases if the political benefits outweigh the
political costs (as, for example, with a change in regime)
or
if economic crisis makes continued
subsidy less acceptable than reform. Secondly, reform must be politically feasible, i.e. have the
support of key actors such as members of the legislature, bureaucracy and provincial
governments. Thirdly, reform must be credible to investors and employees. Success in
reforming the sector was found to be independent of the nature of the regime, whether it be
authoritarian
or
democratic.
The combination of political and economic analysis of public sector reform leads to a
decision tree offering a checklist to enable reformers to decide how to proceed in different
circumstances. What it does not do, unsurprisingly, is explain why we should expect a
government that is backed by a constituency supportive of privatization to institute a
regulatory regime that would protect the interests of employees and consumers.
BRIAN C. SMITH
University
of
Dundee
LOCAL GOVERNMENT TRANSFORMATION
IN
SOUTH AFRICA
Fanie Cloete
J.
L. van Schaik, Pretoria, 1995, 134pp, ISBN
0
627
02046
1.
The author’s involvement as an adviser to many of the organizations involved in the post-
apartheid transformation of local government led to the production
of
this concise volume of
34 pages of main text, supported by 100 pages of annexes containing legislation and flow-
charts, as an aid to those involved in the negotiations. The book appeared mid-way through
the ‘pre-interim’ period, after the Local Government Transition Act came into force in
February 1994; and before the elections for transitional councils at the end
of
1995 which
followed the working out of local structures by the Local Negotiating
Forums.
It
is
basically a
procedural guide, and its comprehensiveness and clarity, as well
as
its identification of areas of
uncertainty, choice and sensitivity, must have been very useful to those involved in the process
of
transition, and remains
so
as a valuable record of the process. The evaluative material is
limited to two short concluding sections on the process of the Local Government Negotiating
Forum and the major issues which arose at that stage; these were substantially resolved
through the ‘almost miraculous achievement’ of compromise between the various
stakeholders.
The local level negotiating process has been another miracle, and the way in which the
procedures described worked out up to the elections in late 1995, and what problems arose, is
another story not told here. South Africa is unique in the complexity of its restructuring task,
but there are lessons to be learned from the success of the process of negotiation between
stakeholders, the innovative design of electoral systems, the potential strength of ward or
community-based organizations and the legislative and institutional arrangements made to
safeguard the future of local government.
DAVID PASTEUR
Development Administration Group, School
of
Public Policy, University
of
Birmingham

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT