Focus areas

Local Governance


Afesis-corplan together with its civil society partners are working on an initiative aimed at exploring effective ways for citizens to engage meaningfully in local governance. This emanates from years of working in the local governance sector where gaps with the present participatory mechanisms have been noted.

Click here for more info on our deepening participatory local governance project

Click here for more about the programmes involvement with Civil Societies response to the Auditor General’s Report

The Accounting for Basic Services Project is jointly implemented by the Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF), Afesis-Corplan, the Built Environment Support Group (BESG), Isandla Institute and PlanAct. This project was designed for and approved by the European Commission Delegation to South Africa within the rubric of its Socio-Economic Justice for All – Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Support programme, and will be implemented from June 2016 to September 2017.

A distinct focus is to build the capacity of communities, project partners and other CSOs active in the field of socio-economic rights. Over the course of the project, capacity building workshops will be held to strengthen the capacity of CSOs in terms of building community leadership structures, social accountability and budget expenditure monitoring methodologies. As four of the project partners are active members of the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN), it was felt that other GGLN member organisations should also be included this learning opportunity.

The project’s central approach hinges on empowering marginalised communities to begin re-shaping their relationships with public representatives. As such, its outcomes and activities focus on the support and capacity building required by citizens marginalised by geography, poverty, race and gender, to hold local government to account. The project as a whole posits that when citizens are able to hold local government to account, the willingness and ability of the state at national and provincial level to support and sanction under-performing municipalities will also be strengthened.

See here for a Guide to Local Government Budget Advocacy in South Africa

Follow Your Vote is an apolitical and non-partisan voter education program that aims to change the way we vote.

Our target is South Africa’s general elections in 2019 and beyond.

The program seeks to prepare voters to:

  • Vote intentionally and not only from an emotional perspective.
  • Vote from an informed and civic agency position.
  • To understand the power that lies in our vote.
  • To hold our elected representatives to account post voting.
  • Get voters out there to understand the impact of “not voting”.

Click here for more info on our Follow Your Vote project.

Click here for more in depth information on the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature.

While the achievements of local government over the last 20 years are evident and worth celebrating, the challenges are as equally evident. Managing resources efficiently is oneof the key elements of good governance and local government has, over the years, performed poorly in this regard. The audit outcomes of the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 financial years paint a picture of a local government system that is regressing in audit performance as opposed to improving. This is indicative of poor governance, weak financial control systems and finance management as well as poor oversight.

Past Projects

Good Governance Surveys (GGS) are perception-based surveys using a specific tool developed by Afesis-corplan with financial support from the Ford Foundation and the GTZ, and endorsed by the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN). The governance monitoring or assessment instrument aims to assist municipalities to monitor how they are faring in good governance. The tool focuses on eight key elements (or indicators) of governance within local government, which are public participation; community consultation; transparency; disclosure; eradication of corruption; service delivery; and systems and structures. This instrument will be particularly relevant to that part of the project dealing with improving public contact with the municipality and building community understanding of municipal functions and responsibilities.



  • Municipalities have a detailed account of how they are faring in good governance
  • Residents have improved understanding of how municipalities function
  • Municipalities and communities partner in developing interventions strategies aimed at improving good governance
  • Municipalities improve in conducting self-assessments on good-governance

The GGS uniqueness lies in its ability to offer a non-technical approach to municipal performance monitoring that is inclusive of civil society and mandated local politicians’ perspectives, and is able to compare both quantifiable and perception-based data.

Click here to download the Good Governance Survey (GGS) Handbook.

Good Governance Survey (GGS) investigates the state of local governance within municipalities. This introductory guide provides an explanation of the GGS concept and methodology.

Click here to download the Good Governance Survey: Lessons Learnt Handbook

The Eastern Cape remains locked in poverty, unemployment and inequality, with the state of health and education referred to by both civil society and government, as a crisis. Local government, in particular, has become less accountable, despite a legislative framework that requires public participation. Citizens of the Eastern Cape are capacitated and empowered to hold elected representatives to account and to speak out on critical issues that are threatening effective delivery of services through community radio.

Civil society organisations often do not know how to engage with government around the work they do. Most of these organisations are struggling on their own to survive. Engaging local government to get government to assist them is not a priority. Civil society structures are trained and supported to engage with the municipality as a collective and as individuals. They do this through identifying key issues of common interest and engage the municipality around the achievement of these. The training of trainers methodology is also used to encourage representatives of these organisations to train other people within their and other organisations on how they can engage government to address their development needs.

Communities within traditional areas continue to be left out of municipal planning processes. Traditional councils are struggling to find their place in municipal governance while grappling with the effects of the demarcation processes. Traditional councils are equipped to undertake participatory planning and to engage and lobby for the inclusion of their plans in broader municipal planning processes. Relations between the traditional councils and municipalities are also strengthened. Residents of Scenery Park are supported to hold government to account by building their capacity on government processes. The residents then, using the necessary legal processes seek to get information from government that is then used to seek appropriate action from government.

The ward committee system is experiencing many challenges in its implementation. For example, ward committees are supposed to represent sector interests of people from within the ward, but often they become a platform for party political conflicts. One of the mandates of ward committees is to monitor


the performance of municipalities but without any specific tools at their disposal they are unable to do this. The structure of ward committees is evaluated to determine how representatives are elected onto wards and how these wards operate. Sector structures are capacitated so they are able to position themselves to elect representatives onto ward committees. Tools for sectors to monitor the performance of wards are developed and tested.

South Africa, 20 years into democracy is experiencing the worst service delivery protests, with citizens expressing great dissent with the state’s low pace of delivery of basic services. The Scenery Park community is one such community where the reality on a housing development project on the ground does not reflect the narrative and the expressed ideals of government.

Consultancies and Special Projects

The National Development Agency (NDA) is an agency of government established through an Act of Parliament under the Department of Social Development to contribute towards poverty eradication through strengthening civil society organisation (CSOs). As part of its processes of building the capacity of CSOs, the NDA contracted Afesis-corplan to render training to a number of organisations across the Eastern Cape Province on the following topics:


  • Corporate Governance
  • Basic Bookkeeping and Financial Management
  • Resource Mobilisation
  • Project Management
  • Conflict Management

This project was in line with Afesis-corplan’s strategic goal of contributing to building a stronger civil society in the Eastern Cape Province.

Afesis-corplan in partnership with the Mvezo Development Trust submitted a proposal to the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund to construct an Interpretative Centre in Mvezo, the birth place of former President Nelson Mandela. The purpose of the Interpretative Centre is to preserve the legacy and cultural richness of the Aba Thembu people.


On approval of the project, a team of professional service providers were appointed to commence with the conceptualisation of the project through constant consultation with the people of Mvezo. The final concept comprises of ten rondaval structures, each to house an element of the Mvezo community, a ticketing office, and an Amphitheatre, which is to be utilised for a variety of activities, including school plays, conferencing and the like. The development boasts magnificent views of the ‘Great Place’ or birth place of Nelson Mandela as well as the Mbashe River.

Through a community meeting, lead by Chief Mandla Mandela, the Interpretative Centre was named the Mvezo Komkhulu Museum. This was followed by the opening of the venue by Honourable President Jacob Zuma during his devotion of 67 minutes in honour of International Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July 2014.

In June 2018 Afesis-corplan was contracted by the Chris Hani Development Agency (CHDA) to take on the role of social facilitator in the irrigation schemes revitalisation programme in and around the Qamata area. As part of the Social Facilitation process these are some of the expected outcomes:

  • Development of relevant institutional and governance mechanisms, where none exist. In cases where these exist, develop how these could be strengthened in a manner that promotes and creates a conducive environment for investment. These should be aligned and linked to project sustainability.
  • Development of shared vision where none exists.
  • Develop a social compact with relevant communities and stakeholders including municipalities.
  • Develop a map of local resources and assets including existing community networks.
  • Provide general facilitation support to ensure community buy-in in the implementation of CHDA projects.
  • Conduct assessments of the relevant business plans and determine feasible employment opportunities and match these with the skills profile of the affected communities.
  • Manage community expectations relating to employment opportunities that are to be derived from the initiative

In January 2018  Afesis-corplan was contracted by the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA) to develop a social charter and to conduct a household survey to assist and strengthen the Rural Enterprise Development Hubs carried out in 12 villages around East London. The project aimed to give support to rural communities, to facilitate rural development in the province by:

  • Mobilising financial and supportive services to cooperatives, ordinarily resident to do business;
  • Promoting and encouraging private sector investment in the province and the participation of the private sector in contributing to economic growth and encouraging the development of rural spaces.

More Programme Information

For more information on one of Afesis-corplan’s initiatives please visit our incremental settlement website.


Incremental settlement is a pro poor approach to settlement development that is being promoted and advocated for by Afesis-corplan.

Incremental settlement is the process by which legally recognised settlements are created over time in an incremental manner through the involvement and actions of a range of role-players including government, communities and the private sector. It includes the development of such settlements from:

  • an in-situ context where people have already occupied the land in an illegal manner and the area is then formalised and upgraded over time (This is called upgrading of informal settlements UIS); as well as
  • greenfield context where the land is undeveloped and the area is prepared for future settlement and upgraded over time (this is called Managed Land Settlement – MLS).