Well-Governed Cities

Well-Governed Cities

by Danga Mughogho
3 September 2020

The South African Cities Network’s Well-Governed Cities programme considers how South African cities are governed, and whether the political and institutional context is stable, open and dynamic enough to accommodate varied societal objectives and interests. Governance refers to the multiplicity of arrangements among elected leaders, society actors and service providers that comprise the system, with government being the vehicle through which the varied interests are pursued.


Three urban governance dialogues intended to launch the first volume of the SACN urban governance paper series and have localized discussions about urban governance, in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Buffalo City in March and April 2020 were cancelled due to the lockdown.


Instead, the first SACN urban governance paper series was launched by remote webinar on 8 April. Four authors – Prof. Marius Pieterse, Nazreen Kola, Dr Baba Buntu and Jesse Harber presented their papers, and engaged in a moderated question and answer session. The report is available on the  SACN website click here


The eight papers in the series cover four broad governance themes: positive rights and service delivery; accountability, democracy and participation; administration, finance and governance; and private sector and innovation. The papers explore different issues that affect the ability of cities to deliver on their mandate, ranging from institutional capacity, to financial management and administrative efficiency, and people, power and politics.


In September we will continue the discussion on urban governance in a webinar with authors of the other papers in the first urban governance paper series.  The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on governments, as they have had to make decisions on measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Governance has also come under the spotlight as the limited means of many governments to adequately respond in the absence of assistance from business and civil society has become apparent.


SACN’s next flagship State of Cities Report will be focused on urban governance. The governance framework that is being applied across SACN programmes (inclusive, productive, sustainable and well-governed cities) has the following elements:

    • Cooperative governance and the all of society approach
    • The political-administrative interface
    • Public integrity
    • The capability of the state


We will be hosting a series of webinars in the next few months focusing on each element of the governance framework.


Webinar:  Cooperative governance and the all of society approach
Government is a pivotal actor in the “quadruple helix” of urban governance actors – the public sector, the private sector, civil society and the knowledge sector – whose interactions are essential to creating an enabling environment for the goals of South Africa’s Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) to be achieved.

This webinar held in partnership with the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP), will focus on building an enabling environment for cross-sector partnering, to achieve city change.


Webinar:  The political-administrative interface
The ability of cities to deliver on their mandate is dependent on their capacity to plan, manage and finance urban growth. This depends on the individual, organisational and environmental capacity of the municipality (i.e. its unique history, nature and operating environment), but also on the relationship between elected politicians and the administrators tasked with implementing their political goals.

This webinar will discuss the impact on urban governance of the political-administrative interface.


Webinar: Public integrity
Section 195 of the Constitution of South Africa outlines the values and principles expected of administrations in all spheres of government. It states that they must be ethical and accountable.

This webinar will reflect on the state of public integrity in local government: across leadership and communities, and in governance structures within municipalities.


Webinar: Urban governance in times of coalition
The local government elections of 2016 marked the beginning of increased political contestation in the metropolitan municipalities.

This webinar will reflect on the changing political context since the 2016 local government elections and its effect on local government structures, fora and processes.

Danga Mughogho is the Programme Manager for the Well-Governed Cities Programme at the South African Cities Network. To contact him email danga@sacities.net