In this edition
Opinion Welcome to the GGLN‟s first newsletter of the year. As
you know, 2011 has already been an exciting and
Free speech must be free and not
successful year for the GGLN. We successfully
determined by rules set by the government,
Chantelle de Nobrega completed and launched the 2010/11 State of Local
Poor cousin: Buffalo City to join the metros, Governance publication, Recognising Community Voice
Glenn Hollands and Dissatisfaction, and several new projects are being
planned or already underway.
From the members
Msunduzi Municipality City Stakeholder GGLN members have continued to find value in
Forum (BESG) networking and have been making good use of the
Integrated Development Plans: Moving from opportunities the network provides to organise events,
Consultation to Participation (DDP) share their knowledge, and have an ongoing and positive
Back door deals in Vulindlela (BESG) impact on the state of local democracy in South Africa.
GGLN-funded research and events We encourage members to utilise this newsletter as a
Towards sustainable human settlements platform for dialogue and exchange, as well as to profile
(BESG) their own work. It includes updates on members‟ activities
The politics of space: Putting urban land on and on the network‟s growth and development, while also
the agenda (Isandla Institute) providing insightful analysis of the current trends and
Building Sustainable Human Settlements: challenges within local governance.
Informal Settlement Upgrading (Planact and
The Secretariat thanks the organisations and individuals
that contributed to this bumper edition of the GGLN
newsletter. If you need additional information about any of
Quo vadis, LogoLink?
the events, research or organisations featured here,
please contact the Secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org
News from the Secretariat
Chantelle de Nobrega
A full list of GGLN members can be found at our website:
Phone: (021) 683 7903
Fax: (021) 683 7956
Free speech must be free and not determined by rules set by the government (Chantelle
de Nobrega, GGLN Coordinator)
As the South African public headed to the polls, political and media attention was focused on the struggling local
government sphere which continues to roll our service delivery at a sluggish pace if at all. We have all heard the
explanations of why this is so: weak capacity, ineffective leadership, corruption, problems in the interface between
the political and the administrative spheres, political power struggles, and poor intergovernmental cooperation.
In light of these challenges, and the resulting slowness of service delivery, citizens are understandably frustrated.
For the most part, the spaces within which citizens can show this dissatisfaction are provided by the state, and are
what can be called “invited” spaces. They are state-mandated, state-structured and state-controlled. And they are
There are a number of these invited spaces for participation, including ward committees, planning processes and
Municipal Councils. These tend to function at varying levels. For example, while most wards have set up
committees, research by civil society organisations members as well as by the Department of Cooperative
Governance has shown that these forums are poorly resourced; they are under-capacitated due to lack of
appropriate skills by committee members; there is poor attendance by councillors; partisan politics often paralyse
these forums; and there is tension between ward committees and different stakeholders, including traditional
leaders, community development workers and municipal councils. Importantly, public perceptions of ward
committees are widely unfavourable.
This is compounded by a lack of empowerment among the general public, and relatively low levels of participation
in invited spaces such as IDP processes and Ward Committees. The dominant approach by the government and
many political parties has been to view citizens as passive consumers of services as opposed to co-producers of
democratic communities who are socially and economically empowered. Many South Africans have a similar
understanding of citizenship and tend not to get involved in local decision-making outside of elections.
The result of this confluence of ineffective local governance and inadequate mechanisms of public participation is
the vocal, visible (and sometimes violent) expression of dissatisfaction and anger.
In 2009 and 2010, the government has made several attempts to address this anger and the weakness in this
sphere of government. This includes adopting the Local Government Turnaround Strategy aimed at rebuilding the
state at this level to promote improved performance and responsiveness while the Municipal Systems
Amendment Bill has been tabled in Parliament which goes some way to professionalising municipalities. In
addition, in September 2009, Parliament established the Ad Hoc Committee on Coordinated Oversight on Service
Delivery, intended to identify the root causes underpinning community protests.
If the focus, however, is on reforming the existing system of public participation while leaving the balance of power
untouched, then these measures will do little to alleviate the frustrations of socially and economically marginalised
communities. Generally speaking, state-defined spaces have frequently been used as a means of subverting
conflict with citizens while avoiding meaningful engagement in decision-making – they have become spaces of
consultation and “report-back” rather than substantive public participation. The result is a widening rift between
citizens and government.
The result is a proliferation of “invented” spaces – citizen-defined – in response to this gap can be found all over
the country. This includes highly visible forms such as community protests or less visible, emerging forms such as
the withholding of rates in more affluent communities.
The state response to these invented spaces has primarily leaned towards repressing expressions of citizen voice
that do not occur within the boundaries of spaces it has created, and ultimately, a refusal to consider the value of
invented spaces by rejecting their legitimacy. As long the state continues refusing to acknowledge the democratic
potential of invented spaces and the opportunity they present, citizen frustration and anger will remain. The
primary response by the state to manifestations of this anger has been to send in law enforcement, which does
little to defuse a volatile situation, while continuing to create spaces that replicate techno-bureaucratic approaches
to participatory democracy which have little or no substantive impact on the fulfilment of socio-economic rights.
This does not mean that invented spaces are democratic utopias without their own set of power politics, and they
can also be guilty of excluding already-marginalised groups. Alternative spaces are neither inherently
representative nor more inclusive. Furthermore, the violence that is sometimes witnessed in community protests
is not only unacceptable, but it also does little to improve communication between communities and
municipalities. These problems, however, are not reasons to reject invented spaces out of hand, as they continue
to offer the potential for the state to finally address the concerns and frustrations of communities who feel that
they are not being heard.
The importance of state recognition of invented spaces is essential (and by that I mean recognising their
democratic legitimacy ideologically as well as their practical value in promoting social justice). This is particularly
crucial given that the current institutional mechanisms intended to encourage the expression of citizen voice are
frequently weak and often end up undermining, rather than promoting, democratic participation.
The legacy of apartheid continues to skew resource distribution and has resulted in pervasive inequality and
social exclusion. Municipalities are faced with immense service delivery backlogs, and their persistent
weaknesses exacerbate the inadequacy of their efforts to meet their developmental mandates. Layered on top of
these already crushing challenges is the growing frustration and distrust felt by citizens, with public participation
mostly remaining a theoretical ideal.
What does this mean going forward? As a start, both government and society need to
fundamentally rethink by public participation. In particular, the state needs to
start moving away from narrowly-defined interpretations of what counts as a
legitimate expression of citizen voice. This means recognising that government
cannot, on its own, determine the dynamics of interaction and the
rules of engagement for democratic participation.
In April 2011, the GGLN launched its third State of Local Governance Report,
entitled Recognising Community Voice and Dissatisfaction.
The report can be accessed on our website, www.ggln.org.za.
This article was first published in the Cape Times on 19 May 2011.
Poor cousin: Buffalo City to join the metros (Glenn Hollands)
As we head for what promises to be heated and potentially conflict-ridden local government elections in 2011,
Buffalo City municipality faces two additional challenges that could further complicate municipal governance in the
city. Firstly there is the matter of on-going political and institutional instability in the city. In January 2011 MEC for
Local Government and Traditional Affairs Mlibo Qoboshiyane described Buffalo City as “on the brink of collapse”
and attributed this to “in-fighting” and poor supply chain management. Secondly there is the question of whether
the city is ready for metropolitan status in 2011.
The first challenge is one of restoring basic governance to the city. After five years of political and administrative
instability the city needs to tackle two key governance issues: a) normalising council and bringing some order to
its deliberations and b) stabilising the administration by reconstituting professional and effective management with
the skills and motivation to get key line functions operating again. In the short term this also includes resuscitating
a credible supply chain management system without causing undue delays in key service and infrastructure
contracts. To re-build public confidence the city also needs to urgently finalise outstanding fraud and corruption
The metropolitan issue is a more deep-seated question about the economic fundamentals of the city; however
these questions could be overlooked given the more pressing problems confronting the council. In 2008, the
Municipal Demarcation Board confirmed that Buffalo City would become a metro in 2011 after the elections. Given
the state of local governance in BCM, citizens may be excused for delaying the celebrations. Unfortunately the
BCM public may find that performance has little bearing on the decision to award metro status.
While there may be nothing in a strictly legal sense that prevents the city from graduating from a poorly
performing local municipality (Category B 1) to a metropolitan municipality (Category A), this “progression”
understandably seems incongruous to many. How did the second largest city in the province arrive at this
apparently irrational crossroads?
When the Minister for Local Government decides on conferring metro status he is not obliged to consider these
rather glaring issues. Section 2 of the Municipal Structures Act simply calls for attention to whether the area:
Has a high population density.
Has an intense movement of people, goods and services.
Has extensive development: and multiple business districts /industrial areas.
Has a centre of economic activity with a complex and diverse economy.
Constitutes a single area for which integrated development planning is desirable.
Has strong interdependent social and economic linkages between its constituent units.
Allowing that these criteria make no call for an assessment of the institutional, political and financial capability of
the aspirant metro, it nonetheless remains arguable whether BCM satisfies all or most of these criteria.
Does Buffalo City really fit the economic and financial profile of a metropolitan municipality? In 2003/2004 when
the metro discussion began to peak, BCM had a total budget of slightly over R1,5 billion a fraction of the average
budget of about R8,4bn in the 6 existing metropolitan municipalities. According to the reports of the Demarcation
Board in 2003, BCM had a rates base of slightly over R155m - the average for other metropolitan municipalities
was nearly R2bn.
The aggregated total expenditure for BCM for 2010/2011 of around R4,5 bn is still way short of metro norms and
nearly R508m is made up of transfers from national government. Buffalo City‟s capital budget is a relatively small
portion of its total budget, suggesting that infrastructure development has not kept pace with its metro aspirations
- furthermore the capital budget tends to be under spent. As the Auditor General noted, “The capital budget for the
2008-09 financial year was under-spent by an amount of R318 million (46%). The under spending of capital
grants is linked to the failure to implement the municipality‟s supply chain management policy.”
In 2006 the City Development Strategy cautioned, “BCM has become a city where most people worked in the
manufacturing sector in the past and are now increasingly becoming dependent on government sector
employment growth.” Government, therefore, rather than the private sector, is the major prop to the BCM
economy. A key feature of metro cities is their capacity to provide jobs. In 2003 BCM had the highest
unemployment rate in comparison to both aspirant metros and established metros since then any growth in
employment has been largely in the public sector. The City Development Strategy noted, “The acid test for a
regional economy is its ability to provide sufficient and sustainable employment. With unemployment between
55% and 60% the Buffalo City region clearly does not generate sufficient work opportunity.”
A few tangible initiatives offer hope that the City Development Strategy for BCM is not dead: the refurbishment of
the airport, the growing status of the city as a sports precinct, at least three significant private investor
commitments at the IDZ and the continued commitment of Mercedes Benz in producing its third generation of C
class vehicles in East London. These are glimmers of hope - but do not constitute a metro economy per se.
The fact of the matter is that, not just Buffalo City but the entire aspirant Metros (Msunduzi, Mangaung,
Mbombela, Polokwane, Rustenberg, Mogale City) lag hugely behind the established metros. The Gross Value
Added (a measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area) per capita in the metro municipalities
is nearly double that added by the aspirant metro municipalities.
Not only is BCM heavily dependent on transfers from the treasury (Equitable Share transfers), it also does not
account for the use of such funds in a manner that satisfies the Auditor General. Qualified audit opinions in the
period 2006 - 2008 declined further to a more serious audit disclaimer for the 2008/2009 financial year. Can
additional functions and associated funding be responsibly assigned to BCM whilst it is in this state?
So what underpins the motivation for BCM to become a metro? Business and other players supported the idea in
2003 because it was seen to increase investor confidence. Gaining functions like environmental health services
undoubtedly adds to the status of the municipality but could equally become a liability for a demonstrably unstable
administration. Another factor that might fuel metro aspirations is the level of remuneration that councillors will
become eligible for.
Moving from local to metro status means a grade 6 classification for the city and the possibility for a significantly
higher upper limit to councillor remuneration packages. Currently the upper limit for the full remuneration package
of a full-time mayor or executive mayor in a grade 6 municipality is R964,255. These packages will not come from
a significantly larger pot - with the abolition of the old RSC levies metros do not gain access to any new revenue
source. Part of the Equitable Share transfer that previously went to the district to compensate for loss of the RSC
income may however be re-directed to the metro.
But to understand why metro municipalities became a policy imperative we have to look into recent local
government history. The partial answer goes back to 1998 and the three key reasons in the Local Government
White Paper for establishing the metropolitan model:
1. Metros create a basis for equitable and socially just local governance
2. Metropolitan government promotes strategic land-use planning, and coordinated public investment in
physical and social infrastructure;
3. Metropolitan government is able to develop a citywide framework for economic and social development,
and enhance the economic competitiveness and wellbeing of the city.
It is important to recall that these principles emerged specifically in relation to the racially separate institutions,
budgets and peculiar spatial patterns of apartheid cities - multiple fragmented municipal entities designed to
preserve racial privilege and trap revenue. Unlike the first generation of metros, aspirant metros like BCM largely
dealt with these issues in the transitional local council period (1995-2000). Re-demarcation of boundaries and
institutional transformation was dealt with in 2000 - admittedly not always with complete success. Apart from
adding a ward, no significant intuitional rationalization or spatial reconfiguration seems likely for BCM in the
course of becoming a metro in 2011 - to the extent that there is a hangover from apartheid era, metro status is
unlikely to remedy this.
Since the early nineties there has been renewed interest across the world in the economic significance of the
major cities - they were seen as key economic pillars of the national economy - both generators and repositories
of wealth. In South Africa in the late nineties, attention focused on the huge budgets wielded by cities like Cape
Town, Johannesburg and Durban and the complex planning / financial strategies that this money clearly
demanded. It was therefore understandable when in 2003 municipal leadership and local business in East London
made a rare show of unity in rallying behind the metro campaign. But BCM‟s claim to metro status was based on
its economic potential rather than a proven track record. The decision to confer metro status on BCM was little
more than a gamble and now we have to ask what has come of that potential in the last 8-10 years?
Address: Foundation for
Contemporary infrastructure, sound financial management, larger property
Metro status does not automatically confer betterResearch
. PO Box better housing. All of these are within the reach of a well run local
rates bases, improved business climates or 1489, Cape Town, 8000
municipality. To argue that greater benefits for municipal staff and councillors, (which almost certainly will result
Contact: Terence Smith
from metro status) will lead to better performance and stronger governance is to ignore the trends in municipal
Tel: 021 418 4173
Fax: decade. There
leadership and administration of the last 021 418 4176 is a strong possibility that a BCM metro will sit a poor
cousin amongst existing metro municipalities with few changes in its political and institutional performance. Even
Web: conflict amongst
more worryingly it could fuel heightenedwww.ggln.org.za local politicians for council seats that carry more
References: National Treasury (2004) Trends in Intergovernmental Finances: 2000/01-2006/07. Pretoria. |
National Treasury 2010: Local Government adopted Capital and Operating Expenditure budgets for the 2010/11
Medium Term Revenue and Expenditure Framework (MTREF) | MCA Planners and Mark Oranje, 2005: Revisiting
the demarcation and establishment of metropolitan municipalities in South Africa: An exploratory paper, Prepared
for: The Municipal Demarcation Board
Glenn Hollands is a partner at Mbumba Development Services but writes in his personal capacity. This article first
appeared in the Afesis-Corplan journal, Transformer, Volume 17, Number 10.
From the members
Msunduzi Municipality City Stakeholder Forum: Toward a Strategy for Meaningful Public
Participation (Daniel Bailey, Built Environment Support Group)
The 31st of January 2011 marked a milestone for creating a platform for meaningful engagement between the
local Msunduzi Municipality and various stakeholder groups. The “Msunduzi Municipality City Stakeholder Forum:
Toward a Strategy for Meaningful Public Participation” was held in Pietermaritzburg with the aim for citizens to
receive a status report on the turnaround of the city, a year after it was placed under provincial administration.
Hosted by the Built Environment Support Group (BESG), participants were drawn together from a variety of
sectors. The turnaround and participation for the event was diverse and included a range of stakeholders with an
interest in engaging in deeper public participation.
The event took part in three components:
1. An overview of local government legislation and policy
context for public participation in municipal affairs.
2. A Report on what Provincial Intervention Team (PIT),
appointed by COGTA, has done, as well as its future
plans for a city turnaround from institutional
and financial collapse.
3. have any news that you would like to share with other GGLN members? Please send your
Do you An open participatory session meant to explore how
citizens email@example.com by the 15th of each
contributions toand stakeholders would be involved in month.
The Forum was intended as the beginning of a longer, deeper process towards sustainable public participation in
concerns of the city. To continue the momentum of this event, immediate activities range from the encouragement
of transparency and publication of services and events to all stakeholders. BESG further participated in
developing a public participation strategy for the city which was presented on the 8th of February 2011.
For more Information about the Msunduzi Stakeholder Forum,
visit the BESG website at (www.besg.co.za) to access the
Msundzi Stakeholder Forum Report, presentations and news
articles on the Forum, a stakeholders form to publicize
contributions and the communication and public participation
strategy for the city. The Forum can also be seen on a one hour
long DVD produced by BESG. Free copies of this DVD are
available to non-profit organisations and local government
institutions who wish to use it on request from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Integrated Development Plans: Moving from Consultation to Participation (Sarah
Watson, Democracy Development Programme)
It is widely accepted that South Africa has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world, both in terms of
income and access to resources. This wealth gap has lead to widespread and often violent protests around
service delivery and to increased citizen apathy, expressed through a general decline in the rate of voting in both
national and local elections.
The legislative framework for local government stipulates that municipalities must promote the involvement of
citizens (paying particular attention to the participation of marginalised and excluded groups), as well as
harnessing their creative input by adopting inclusive approaches. Local government is further mandated to create
conditions for local solutions to development problems, work in partnerships, and develop measures to build
community capacity. The state has acknowledged the crisis in local governance, and created the Local
Government Turnaround Strategy, a key part of which is the statement that “Local government is everyone‟s
business. The strategy extends beyond government and must be owned across society”.
The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) is currently reviewing the legislation
and policy frameworks which govern public participation. Both Cogta and the South African Local Government
Association (Salga) have indicated their interest in engaging with civil society around facilitation of community
eThekwini municipality has acknowledged (in its Community Participation Policy) that municipal governance is
seen as “unresponsive”; that there is a lack of effective means of communication between councillors, officials
and communities; a “general feeling that local government does not consult with the people when taking decisions
on crucial matters”; and lack of knowledge amongst citizens about how government structures function. It seems
that the participation strategies used in eThekwini and other municipalities do not adequately facilitate community
input into active decision making. The current design of public participation processes deems participation to be
an item on a compliance checklist. At the most current participation processes frame interactions with the
community as consultation, used to legitimise decisions taken by politicians and officials.
In terms of the Municipal Structures Act (No. 117 of 1998), ward committees are the primary facilitators of
community participation. This ward committee system is not well understood either by Council officials or by
communities, and both the establishment procedures and functions of these committees are disputed and
misunderstood. At best, the role of these ward committees is restricted to advising ward councillors. On the
ground the experience has been that these ward committees are not fulfilling even this limited purpose, instead
being used to push political party agendas or falling entirely into inactivity. The intended inclusion of marginalised
or vulnerable groups including the poor, women and the youth is not being facilitated through the ward committee
The Integrated Development Plan (IDP) is the document created by the Municipality which outlines proposed
service delivery and other projects in a 5 year cycle, reviewed annually. The IDP should be the vehicle for
creating the medium term vision for the city, the space where competing demands for resources are prioritised,
and the standard against which service delivery should be measured. In reality, the IDP document is created by
technicians far from the communities it is supposed to serve. The opportunity for use of local knowledge is lost
and the use of somewhat technocratic language makes the document inaccessible to the majority of citizens. The
scope of the IDP document is also very broad, meaning that for officials the document tends to be too general for
The Department of Provincial and Local Governance (now renamed Cogta) has also noted in the Gender Policy
Framework that “only 8.3% (of municipalities) shared IDP-related information with communities”.
In this context, it is clear that there is a need for interventions which strengthen the capacity of communities,
CBOs, and other stakeholders to make informed, practical, strategic input to IDP processes, as well as structures
to facilitate this input.
With this in mind, the Democracy Development Programme plans to take local governance issues to communities
through a new programme, focussed on building capacity amongst civil society organisations to understand and
influence the IDP. Tapping into existing spaces including Community Based Organisations is a key strategy for
this project. CBOs thrived during the time of Apartheid, and the current government has failed to access the
human and organisational resources in these groups. CBOs often have a large percentage of active women
within their ranks, and harness the power of volunteerism. Participation in local governance can also be seen as
a catalyst for community mobilisation.
The timing of this project is important – Cogta is in the process of developing the Policy Framework on Public
Participation, first drafted in 2005 and still awaiting adoption. Indications from the Department have been that they
are reviewing the ward committee structures in the light of the failure of these institutions to facilitate effective
participation, and are receptive to constructive suggestions as to how to foster greater community engagement
with local government processes. We hope to feed our learning from this and previous projects into the
development of new policy to facilitate community participation in local governance.
Back Door Deals in Vulindlela (Cameron Brisbane, Built Environment Support Group)
The transfer of over R2bn of state funds to a non-state entity without any form of tender is highly irregular, and is
only the tip of an iceberg of irregularities in the Vulindlela rural housing project.
Before funds can be allocated by Province to implement a housing project, two mandatory processes are
required. Firstly, the local municipality – Msunduzi in this instance – must have identified a housing need and
prioritized that need, in its Integrated Development Plan (IDP). This is the key instrument for development
planning and budgeting. The Msunduzi revised IDP for 2009/10, published before the Municipality was placed
under provincial administration, records a backlog of 16,000 housing units across the entire municipality. Granted
there have been complaints from some communities living in Vulindlela that they have been neglected for the past
7 years. However, there are democratic processes through Ward Councillors and the annual imbizo (public
consultation) process to ensure that communities‟ voices are heard, even if their needs are not prioritised for
reasons their Councillors are duty-bound to explain.
The IDP business plan commits to building 2000 houses using the rural subsidy instrument – 500 each in
kwaXimba, Nxamalala, Inandi, and Sweetwaters. This does not add up to 25,000 units, and the uniformity of the
allocations shows a complete absence of any empirical data about population and housing need in those areas.
The Municipality‟s Housing Sector Plan dated December 2010 in a section on “planned projects” refers to 2000
sites in Vulindlela. That is consistent with its revised IDP. In a separate table of the same document, it suddenly
includes provision for a planned rural housing project in Vulindlela of 25,000 units.
Secondly, it is questionable why Province has allocated a budget for construction before any feasibility work has
been undertaken. The purpose of undertaking feasibility studies is to ensure that a range of physical and
environmental factors have been taken into account when designing, specifying, and constructing the planned
houses. A Departmental spokesperson is quoted in the Daily News to say that “planning can take anything from
three months to six years depending on the whims of the Implementing Agent.”
Feasibilities involve a range of highly skilled professionals, not a construction company. We already have a legacy
of R58bn of defective RDP housing nationally, and it is incredible that the Department of Human Settlements
would contemplate incurring wasteful expenditure of this proportion by rushing the feasibility work. The Msunduzi
Housing Sector Plan notes that “some of the households (in Vulindlela) have located on environmentally sensitive
areas such as wetlands and within 1:100 year floodlines.” Once it is ascertained, based on scientific evidence and
after consultation with the traditional leaders, where people can settle permanently, geotech studies have to be
conducted on each location to determine the type of foundations that need to be built and the soil percolation, to
determine what type of sanitation is viable. Finally, environmental impact assessments tend to throw up all
manner of issues besides areas of sensitivity or flooding – ancestral burial sites (knowledge of which may have
been lost over generations), rare flora and fauna to name a few. Resolving such complex problems is a major
contributor to delays in implementing projects and has nothing to do with the developer‟s tardiness.
Another striking factor is that the numbers do not add up. The current subsidy quantum is around R56,500.
25,000 units would therefore cost around R1,4m – not R2,1m. If the difference is accounted for as a provision for
roads, water, and sanitation, how can you enter into contract without knowing where and what has to be built and
to what standard? Similarly with the construction period – to build 25,000 units at a rate of 500 per month would
take around 5 years including feasibility work, and yet the agreement between the province and developer is for a
three year implementation period.
Now let us turn to the issue of procurement. The CEO of Dezzo Holdings, Senzo Mfayela, has been quoted as
saying that the award of the contract to his company without a competitive tender process is not irregular,
because the project is being undertaken under the Enhanced People‟s Housing Process (EPHP) policy. As a
member of the National Reference Group that drafted the EPHP policy, I find this astounding. The National
Department of Human Settlements only awarded a contract to produce a draft funding and implementation
framework for the policy in the last week. Funds cannot be disbursed without those guidelines being in place.
While the policy does make provision for “Community Resource Organisations” (CROs) to enter into negotiated
contracts, it is subject to two controls: Firstly, there has to be an accreditation process that presently does not
exist; only competent local municipalities can apply for accreditation in terms of current legislation. Secondly, the
policy requires that the CRO accepts the state‟s obligation to procure services from a construction company by a
transparent competitive tender process. This is law in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, and officials
can face jail time for circumventing its provisions.
In this instance, the KZN Human Settlements has entered into an exclusive agreement with a Section 21
company, Vulindlela Development Association. That company in turn seems to have assigned the entire R2.1bn
grant to a private company, Dezzo Holdings
The National Department is supporting a small number of pilot EPHP projects, which do not include Vulindlela. A
pilot project may involve 500 units – not 25,000 -- when the policy is still unregulated and untested in a rural
context. The EPHP has mandatory provisions for community involvement, the first of which is that they must be
involved in selecting their preferred CRO. It is not incumbent on amakosi to elect themselves to positions of self-
interest and enter into dubious contracts outside of any regulatory framework. Furthermore, KZN Human
Settlements has an express policy of releasing large contracts in phases, and not awarding more than 4 contracts
to a single company, in order to limit its risk. This deal breaks all the known rules.
GGLN-funded research and events
Towards sustainable human settlements: Public participation in housing development
(Daniel Bailey, Built Environment Support Group)
This paper looks at how public participation in housing development has not been prioritised or implemented at
any meaningful scale. Government‟s preference for contractor driven housing projects has meant that the end
product (i.e. the house) has been prioritised over the community benefits of the housing development process.
Compounding problems of housing development are that the end product is compromised as neoliberal policies
have limited funds available for public, welfare-oriented programs, which means that the low-cost housing
programme is underfunded, placing delays on delivery and resulting in housing of poor quality, built on cheap land
on urban peripheries.
Community-driven housing is made available through the Peoples Housing Process (PHP), now known as the
Enhanced Peoples Housing Process (EPHP), and it has real potential to address many of the spatial, physical,
social and economic problems associated with conventional low-income housing developments in South Africa as
it involves the community in decision making. Importantly, the EPHP is still the only national public investment
programme that combines large scale transfer of resources with a substantive public participation process.
However, government still seems reluctant to implement EPHP at scale and the implementation guidelines are
still to be approved and remain to be seen. In the meantime, 25 000 housing units are being built in Vulindlela,
Msunduzi Municipality under the guise of EPHP. The situation is mired in controversy and yet again the substance
and value of the development process for communities is thwarted in favour of a mere (and meagre) product.
BESG is grateful to the GGLN for a research grant that enabled for the production of this paper. You can access
the paper on the GGLN website: http://www.ggln.org.za/activities/research/research-papers
The politics of space: Putting urban land on the agenda (Tristan Görgens, Isandla
On 1 December 2010, Isandla Institute organised a GGLN Learning Event at the Belmont Conference Centre in
Rondebosch, Cape Town. GGLN members, a commissioner from the National Planning Commission and other
interested research/advocacy organisations and professionals were invited to participate in a dialogue about the
politics of urban land and space.
The objective of the event was to share Isandla Institute‟s recent policy research on urban land and while
emphasising the need to begin the conversation about a consolidated urban agenda, an explicit spatial
perspective to planning and development to enhance equity and socio-spatial transformation, and increased
participation in planning and decision-making about the shape and functioning of South African cities. The event
also provided a space for exchange of ideas, experiences and lessons related to urban land, housing and
planning among GGLN members.
The first session began with a presentation Isandla Institute‟s analysis of why urban land and space have been
addressed in a fractured and unassertive way by the South African government since 1994. Citing numerous
examples, we suggest that the primary reasons have been:
1. The fragmentation and despatialisation of the planning function across different spheres and departments
2. The lack of a coherent approach to urban land governance and reform,
3. Delivery of „turnkey‟ housing as the focal urban intervention,
4. The „transaction costs‟ of transforming and decentralising the state after 1994,
5. The difficulty of building momentum in the planning profession or civil society towards a compelling
Philip Harrison (National Planning Commission, Wits University) and Stephen Berrisford (Urban LandMark) acted
as respondents and largely supported the analysis presented in the presentation, while pointing to additional
factors that could inform the discussion during the rest of the proceedings. These, including other inputs, revolved
around the need for nuance when identifying points of breakdown, including:
the challenge of using „urban‟ or „city‟ (e.g. Right to the City) as key nodal points in an advocacy agenda – due
to their invocation of entrenched and politicise urban/rural debates and the danger of eliding complex
urban/rural linkages and issues of scale.
the danger of (over)emphasising planning as the lead profession in ensuring spatial transformation – it is a
profession likely to remain beset by historically-induced insecurities, a weak ability to understand and
influence markets and lack the institutional presence required to engineer significant change.
focus too narrowly on the current state of the private property clause in the constitution – the existing clause
has been interpreted in progressive ways by the Constitutional Court (although focused primarily on evictions)
and there remains great deal of unutilised potential in the existing law that can be for transformative ends
(requiring political will rather than legislative reform).
the need to emphasise that advocating for a more central focus on space in planning does not mean more of
the kind of spatial planning currently practiced in South Africa – instead it is a call to engage with space and
planning in new, transformative ways.
the challenge of couching the transformative discourse in terms that are likely to result in the widest possible
coalitions around the agenda – the example used was of advocating for „urban efficiency‟ rather than „spatial
Ways to move forward
This learning event created an important opportunity for a range of GGLN members and other organisations from
allied sectors to discuss their common experiences of attempting to transform cities and build sustainable human
settlements. The importance of spatially-informed planning in creating just and well governed urban space was
stressed throughout the event and there was general agreement that this should be advocated for in other forums,
particularly when government is in attendance. Participants also emphasised the significance of organisations
with interrelated and crosscutting issues having a chance to meet and discuss common points of interest and
activism, and suggested that there was a need for such spaces to be created in the future.
One such initiative, informed by the discussion during this event, is a series of dialogues being hosted by Isandla
Institute, Community Organisation Resource Centre and the Informal Settlements Network throughout 2011 about
the potential of the „Right to the City‟ to act as a common point of collaboration and activism. The Right to the City
emphasises the realisation of the individual and collective rights of urban inhabitants, demands increased and
equal participation for all residents in the planning and decision-making that shapes the form and functioning of
their neighbourhoods and cities, and highlights the importance of pursuing spatial justice through a recognition of
the social function of land and property.
Building Sustainable Human Settlements: Informal Settlement Upgrading (Hermine
Planact and BESG (Built Environment Support Group) hosted a learning event focusing on informal settlement
upgrading on 23 February 2011 in Johannesburg. The event brought together representatives from GGLN
member organisations, community based organisations, social movements, government entities, and donor
organisations to discuss various perspectives and approaches to informal settlement upgrading.
The Informal Settlement Upgrading Programme (UISP) has recently become a national priority to improve living
conditions for people living in informal settlements with a target set to upgrade 400,000 households by 2014. The
UISP policy is regarded as having the potential to improve conditions by providing a level of security of tenure
through regularisation and in-situ upgrading without major disruptions to residents‟ livelihoods. Yet the various
municipal implementation approaches have seen a range of implementation challenges. There has been limited
implementation of an incremental in situ development approach and instead there have been more situations of
eradication of informal settlements, relocations, and displacement. Municipalities appear to have little knowledge
about alternative policy positions, and tend to be inflexible in their approaches with little space for community
participation. Intergovernmental relations are also posing serious challenges to the implementation of these
programmes. The issue of land access and availability is integrally related to these concerns. Various
organisations, academics and government entities have been developing approaches to further improve the
process of upgrading according to the policy prescripts and this event served as an opportunity to provide a
platform for sharing experiences and putting recommendations forward to address key challenges noted to date.
The objectives of the event was to develop a shared understanding
of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Policy (UISP) and its
implementation and to provide recommendations to further
address the issues raised through discussion.
The event included presentations on the work of specific
government entities including the role of the National
Upgrading Support Programme and the Housing Development
Agency in supporting implementation capacity among
municipal and provincial departments; the City of Johannesburg‟s
formalisation and regularisation programme; and eThekwini‟s
interim services programme.
In terms of civil society organisations, presentations provided insight into the work of the Socio-Economic Rights
Institute (SERI) in supporting social movements and communities in resisting evictions and struggling for access
to decent basic services in informal settlements; the work of the Landfirst campaign as an emerging network
focusing on a pro-poor approach to land access through incremental development; Planact‟s current project to
enhance community participation in informal settlement upgrading programmes; and the work of community
leaders in Freedom Park (Western Cape settlement) supported by Development Action Group (DAG) –
highlighting community members‟ sense of empowerment through their direct engagement in upgrading
Key issues and recommendations:
Meaningful engagement between community members and government representatives is required in terms of
meeting needs appropriately such as services and security of tenure. Respondents remarked that “report backs
do not constitute participation” and that “[people] participate and engage but in the end it is a political decision that
nullifies the process of development”. Community participation needs to be improved by strengthening the
capacity of community members and officials in this regard.
The politics of informal settlements was emphasised in terms of how informal settlements are viewed: “shacks are
not seen as an asset or resource, but only as a problem”. Participants also argued that good policy is not enough,
and that the opportunities and limitations with regards to the policy need to be better understood within a broader
context. There needs to be a willingness in government at all the different levels to deal with the most important
aspect of cities by developing the economies of informal settlements. Therefore it is important to define the role of
civil society – to impact on policy (for systemic change); and to impact at programme level (to address lack of
transparency, and to ensure that through consultation the right product is delivered).
The majority of municipalities are currently engaging in relocation projects rather than considering in-situ
upgrading possibilities. Relocation is problematic for communities since it disrupts social networks and livelihoods
created as well as access to services in terms of proximity to employment opportunities, schools and health
services. Community members also pointed out that government has double standards in terms of
accommodating developments for the affluent but not for the poor citing what seems to be a common excuse of
„unsuitable dolomitic land conditions‟ preventing upgrading possibilities in informal settlements. Often alternative
land identified by government is not able to accommodate the entire community that is to be relocated or the land
is owned / earmarked by another department. The result is often “the utilisation of force to effect „service delivery‟
In terms of actions at project / programme level, the importance of access to information with regards to dolomite
and land rehabilitation studies was highlighted as well as legal assistance in this regard. Proper technical work
needs to be done up-front to establish cost/benefit assessment (e.g. costs in terms of disruption of livelihoods).
On-going monitoring and evaluation of upgrades, service provision, evictions and relocations is required.
It was emphasised that litigation and civic action should be used where necessary. There are however
reservations that most of the constitutional court rulings have not been adhered to. There is a need for research
on all constitutional court rulings to consider impact over time.
Community members and civil society organisations
need to reach consensus on the most important
concerns with regards to informal settlement
upgrading and these need to be effectively
packaged for relevant government departments to
address. A coherent voice of the poor is necessary
to put pressure on government for policy
implementation changes required. This points to the
need for strengthening solidarity through networks;
support from professionals (lawyers, planners);
and more learning opportunities such as this event to
build capacity and advocacy approaches.
Participants indicated that the learning event was
particularly useful and valuable in terms of:
bringing together people from a range of organizations across civil society and the state to share experiences
and lessons learnt;
providing information about the different government and civil society approaches;
the opportunity for community members to interact directly with government representatives regarding their
the personal experiences of upgrading – the community „voice‟.
A more detailed report and the various presentations will be available on Planact and BESG‟s websites.
Quo vadis, LogoLink? (Mirjam van Donk, Isandla Institute)
LogoLink is a global learning initiative on citizen participation and local governance. Founded in (or around – opinions
are slightly divided on the exact date of establishment) 2000, it was originally hosted by the Institute for Development
Studies (IDS) in Sussex, UK. In 2005, a decision was made to move the coordination of LogoLink to the South.
Currently, Polis in Brazil is fulfilling this role. LogoLink has 9 regional partners in Latin America, Central America,
Northern America, the UK, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, South Asia, China and South-East Asia.
In the past, the GGLN has had opportunities to engage in LogoLink initiatives, but more often than not that was in a
haphazard way. Efforts to establish LogoLink in Southern Africa date back to 2006/07, when the Foundation for
Contemporary Research (FCR) hosted a number of meetings to establish a regional learning network. This was followed
by a regional seminar in September 2008, in which a number of GGLN members participated. However, due to staff
turnover and other organisational challenges, FCR was unable to take forward any of the outcomes of the seminar and
systematically maintain and expand on the contacts established.
GGLN members have also engaged in global research projects. For example, the Centre for Public Participation (CPP)
contributed a case study to the International Research project „Enabling democratic local governance environments for
fighting poverty and inequality‟ in 2008, which was followed by a research workshop attended by Imraan Buccus (CPP)
and Jaap de Visser (CLC). The contributions were published in the IDS Bulletin entitled „Hybrid Public Action‟ in 2009.
Another example is ACCEDE‟s participation the 2008/09 research project on „Promoting Learning on Citizen Leadership:
Synthesising Experiences of India, Brazil and South Africa‟. The research papers have recently been published in a book
titled Citizen Leadership: Deepening Democratic Accountability in India, Brazil and South Africa.
Since early 2010, LogoLink has not offered the same amount of opportunities for regional, transnational and global
networking, knowledge sharing and knowledge production as before. In part, this was a consequence of less funding
and no more direct funding to regional partners as a contribution to their overhead costs. It was also a result of repeated
staff turnover and leadership changes in the international Secretariat, which has only recently stabilised. Another reason
is that LogoLink moved into introspective mode. In light of the tenth anniversary of LogoLink, all regional partners were
asked to reflect on ten years of decentralisation and democratisation in their respective regions, the role and
impact/value of LogoLink in relation to those trends, and what opportunities exist for regional/transnational/global
knowledge sharing and networking into the future. These perspectives informed a recent meeting of LogoLink Partners
held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
When Isandla Institute became the Secretariat of the GGLN, it also „inherited‟ LogoLink. This happened at a time when
there were no resources to support the establishment and maintenance of a regional network and when the international
Secretariat was unable to give guidance on what was expected from us, especially in the absence of financial support.
Isandla Institute used its 2009 Pioneers of Participation project to establish relationships with organisations in Southern
African countries and to engage with other LogoLink partners. The project was co-hosted with IDS (LogoLink UK), with
Deniva (LogoLink East Africa) identifying participants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Uganda.
International experts and resource persons were identified with the support from Polis (LogoLink Latin
America/International Secretariat) and PRIA (LogoLink South East Asia). Members of the GGLN participated in the
workshop and/or policy seminar in November 2009. Since the project was completed, it has been difficult to sustain the
momentum and deepen regional networks and partnerships without dedicated capacity and resources.
It seems that the tide may be turning and that the future holds exciting opportunities for GGLN members to engage in
regional, transnational and global knowledge sharing and knowledge production through LogoLink. The Partners
Meeting in June recognised that this was a „do or bust‟ moment for LogoLink and that unless we were able to reignite
the energy that characterised the network in the past and insert this energy into global domains, LogoLink would not
survive. The plans that have emanated from this meeting are ambitious and exciting. LogoLink will seek to agitate for a
right to participation (whether in the form of a globally recognised right or charter) and will use the next two years (from
January 2012) as a foundational phase to develop strategic networks and partnerships (globally, regionally and locally)
and to engage in the knowledge production required to substantiate the issue and develop suitable strategies for
subsequent phases. As a global campaign, this can provide the necessary coherence that will allow members of the
GGLN to benefit more from LogoLink opportunities and become more active participants. It will also give us an agenda
to further expand and deepen regional networks and facilitate regional engagements.
In addition, and depending on resources, LogoLink partners recognised that regions may also be interested in
participating in research opportunities related to particular areas of interest.
Examples of topics identified include: the use of new technologies and social media; state, politics, civil society
relations; migration, social inclusion and intolerance; local economic development and democratic control;
sustainability, climate change and control over natural resources. Fundraising for such projects rests with LogoLink
Partners and will depend on interest, capacity and opportunity. GGLN members will be kept informed should
opportunities arise to participate in such research projects.
Going forward, I expect LogoLink to offer greater value and more opportunities to the GGLN. The forthcoming GGLN
International Learning Exchange to India later this year is an attempt to use the LogoLink network and expertise to the
benefit of GGLN members. Other benefits may not become evident before 2012, when the next grant period starts
(hopefully). Within LogoLink (its regional Partners and their respective partners, peers and stakeholders) there is a
wealth of insights and expertise that can serve to inspire sustained work and advocacy or, where appropriate, new
thinking and practice on participatory local governance in South Africa. It is a resource waiting to be exploited to the
(At the 2011 Partners Meeting, Mirjam was one of three representatives elected to serve on the International
Coordination Committee of LogoLink)
News from the Secretariat
The Secretariat would like to welcome one new full member and two new associate members to the GGLN.
The African Centre on Citizenship and Democracy (ACCEDE) is based at the University of the Western Cape, and
is a new full member of the GGLN. The Centre focuses on citizen-centred democratisation and development processes
and produces high quality research on citizenship and accessing political and socio-economic rights at local level.
The Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) is a new associate member. CORC provides support to
networks of urban and rural poor communities who mobilise themselves around their own resources and capacities and
enables these communities to learn from one another and to create solidarity and unity in order to be able to broker
deals with formal institutions, especially the State.
The Justice and Peace Department of the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) is a new
associate member. This department functions as the official social, economic, and environmental justice advocacy and
peace-building agency of the SACBC with dedicated programmes across a wide range of key thematic areas such as
gender, economic justice, environmental justice, participatory democracy and land reform.
New staff member at Isandla Institute
The GGLN welcomes a new staff member at Isandla Institute. Pamela Masiko-Kambala holds a Masters in Conflict,
Violence and Development from SOAS in London. She previously worked for Idasa and for the Centre for the Study of
Violence and Reconciliation. Pamela takes up the position of policy researcher in our local government programme
Useful resources for GGLN members and partners
EngagingCities – EngagingCities is a web-based resource of ideas and tools that are empowering people to become
part of the process of planning for better communities. Its goal is to impact participants of urban development
processes to apply new approaches and technologies in ways that make community improvement more participatory,
collaborative, and effective. http://engagingcities.com/
PRIA Global Partnership journal – One of the leading democratic governance organisations in the world, the Society
for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), has a Global Partnership project and journal dedicated to gathering and
documenting innovations in participation around the globe. The latest issue includes a number of essays on the theme
of democratic accountability. http://www.pria.org/en/mi-about-pria/mi-divisions/pgp
Open Budget Index – In “Measuring and Promoting Budget Transparency,” Paolo de Renzio and Harika Masun
introduce the Open Budget Index (OBI), a new tool based on surveys by independent researchers that compares key
budget information published by governments across the world. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-