|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.