Unpacking developmental local government using Soft Systems Methodology and MCDA tools

  • L Scott Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town


This paper presents two different analytical approaches that may be useful in developing an understanding of developmental local government (DLG). DLG implies a significant commitment with respect to poverty relief at the local administrative level as well as strong emphasis on participation and accountability to communities1. This paper attempts to apply Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to clarify the activities that DLG implies for local authorities and focuses specifically on their ability to be developmental and to effectively impact upon poverty. An expected product of this approach will be the identification of specific indicators of (inter alia) poverty that may be used to monitor the effectiveness of local government from a constitutional and developmental perspective. Indicators may also be generated from the perspective of community needs and this paper reports on a case study which identifies the needs of a small community, Pniel, in the South African Western Cape, using a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis approach. This approach allows for both the identification and prioritisation of issues from the perspective of the community. Further, it is suggested that the SSM approach can be used to provide a context within which community needs may be considered. This framework clarifies what it is that local government have the aims, powers and functions to perform. Viewing the community needs within this framework provides a mechanism for realistically linking the community needs to the local authority’s budget. A process of ongoing monitoring and evaluation of DLG, using the two sets of indicators, can assist to focus the functioning of local government on effective poverty relief.


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