International Development Planning Review

Building developmental local government to fight poverty: Institutional change in the city of Johannesburg

International Development Planning Review (2004), 26, (4), 377–399.

Abstract

The increasing significance of cities in the global system and the urbanisation of poverty underpin the call to reassess the role of local government in fostering redistributive justice. The paper shows how in post-colonial contexts the institutional frameworks of city government are poorly adapted to roll out effective programmes that will improve the lives of the urban poor. Using Johannesburg's process of institutional reform, known locally as iGoli 2002, the paper reflects on the city's efforts to mainstream a developmental agenda. An overview of poverty profiles in Johannesburg provides the platform for assessing the developmental challenges facing iGoli 2002's architects. Johannesburg's efforts to achieve financial sustainability, reconfigure the institutional arrangements of service delivery, establish a better organisational interface between political and administrative functions, rework the political lines of accountability and run an integrated participatory process are identified as useful (if not wholly successful) measures necessary to address the fundamental problem of designing a developmental local state.

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Parnell, Susan