Accountability in the context of cooperative governance and local economic development (LED) in South African local government

Kamara, Richard Douglas (2021)

CITATION: Kamara, R. D. 2021. Accountability in the context of cooperative governance and local economic development (LED) in South African local government. Megatrend Review, 18(3):23-42, doi:10.5937/MegRev2101023D.

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Provided the tensions and challenges found in different types of governance systems for developing clear objectives, effective policy implementation strategies, as well as monitoring and reporting mechanisms aimed at improving efficiency and sustainability of initiatives, this paper seeks to contribute to both theoretical and practical debates surrounding cooperative governance and LED. Whilst better policy outcomes that fit with local and differentiated needs among stakeholders may be one of the drivers for moving towards cooperative governance, there is a normative question of accountability. Does the common feature of flexible and adaptable arrangements in cooperative governance create accountability deficit, specifically promoting laissez-faire approach commonly associated with the implementation among role-players? This paper considers this question and the extent to which accountability may be ensured. To address these concerns data were collected from six municipalities in Western Cape, South Africa. A qualitative research design paradigm based on Interpretivists/Constructivists philosophy was employed. Data were collected through three data collection instruments, namely, document review, interviews and focus group discussions. This paper argues that employing Key Performance Indicators as commonly used in the public service to promote accountability is difficult to enforce specifically in collaborative endeavours where participatory is voluntary. The paper recommends some accountability promotion enhancers. This will assist in improving the understanding of the context that may inhibit or enable stakeholders in taking full advantage of collaborative-led developmental interventions to further peoples’ lives and to enhance their opportunities to partake in matters of development in their municipalities.

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