Dissertation Abstracts

Party-State Relations and the Politics of Service Delivery in Local Government: The case of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality

Author: Mukwedeya, Tatenda G, tmukwedeya@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Supervisor: Professors Michelle Williams and Roger Southall
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: intra-party politics , party-state relations , local governance , development
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Social Transformations and Sociology of Development , Economy and Society


Service delivery protests have become a common feature in South Africa’s post apartheid social landscape. The real or perceived inadequacy of basic social amenities such as water, electricity, housing and waste disposal has fueled many of these episodes of civil unrest across the country especially from 2004 onward. After almost twenty years under a democratic dispensation, why have severe service delivery challenges persisted or why are municipalities failing to provide adequate services in post apartheid South Africa? It is argued that the problem is at the political and administrative interface of municipalities. Therefore the thesis unpacks how the relationship between the political and administrative arms of municipalities facilitates or hinders effective local government performance. Drawing on the experiences of Buffalo city metropolitan municipality through the use of ethnographic methods, the study describes and explains the challenges undermining local government. The overarching aim is to explain how and to what extent the ANC as a dominant party affects the local state capacity to operate effectively. In other words, the study also aims to understand and explain how the performance of the ANC as a party impacts upon its performance as a government. It therefore considers internal party dynamics and practices to first understand the operation of the party before it constitutes the state. The thesis is therefore organised at two levels. Firstly it unpacks the internal workings of the ANC at local level and secondly it relates this to the functioning of the local state. Situated within the broader development literature, this study extends and strengthens state led development approaches such as the developmental state notion as propagated in South Africa by recognising and engendering the role of political parties in shaping the character of the state especially at the local level.