How can local government councillors interact with and represent their constituents better?

On 5 July 2017 Sibulele Poswayo and Ronald Eglin met with Gabriel Nahmias a researcher involved in the South African Councillor Panel Study. The research project aims to better understand the ways in which local government councillors interact with and represent their constituents; and to better understand the particular demands and challenges they confront in their work and what factors most enable and constrain their professional success.

Issues identified in the meeting as possibly informing the success or otherwise of councillor performance included the capacity of the councillors to be able to undertake their work and the extent to which the councillors engage with and respond to their constituencies.  Challenges with the way that ward committees are established and operate were also raised as an important issue influencing the way that councillors relate to their constituencies and perform.

The research project is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with faculty and students at the University of Cape Town (UCT / Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa), the University of Witwatersrand School of Governance (WSG), and with additional independent researchers.

The methodologies used by the  South African Councillor Panel study include conducting surveys and interviews with councillors as well as interviewing civil society organisations to unpack what factors influence the performance of councillors in doing their jobs.  The project aims to have completed these surveys and interviews by September 2017 and a research report will be concluded and circulated soon after.  It is anticipated that these research results will form the base line for subsequent surveys in future to track what issues inform the performance of councillors over time.

Afesis-corplan was identified as one of the leading civil society organisations in local governance.




Integrated Development Planning

The Integrated Development Plan (IDP) is a 5 year plan that shows the municipality’s development objectives, key strategies and projects that will be implemented to achieve these objectives.  It also details which projects will be done in year one, year two, three, four and year five.

The Municipal Systems Act of 2000 says that an IDP is ”…the principal strategic planning instrument which guides and informs all planning and development, and all decisions with regard to planning, management and development in the municipality.”

The Municipal Systems Act also says that “a Municipality must encourage and create conditions for the local community to participate in the affairs of the Municipality”, including in “the preparation, implementation and review of its Integrated Development Plan”.

Integrated Development Planning Videos

IDP Process

IDP Thandi’s Story – English

IDP Thandi’s Story – Xhosa