Metro form of government in Gauteng
During the 1980s, areas of the country that could be defined as ‘metropolitan’ were governed by dozens of fragmented, racially-divided local government bodies. During the 1990s these mosaics of local authorities were replaced by democratically-elected metropolitan municipalities, initially, in the mid-1990s, by a two-tier metro model and then, in 2000, by single-tier ‘unicity’ arrangements. This was a remarkable achievement. Uniquely amongst countries facing similar institutional legacies, South Africa was, virtually overnight, able to overcome the historical fixity of multiple divided municipalities making up metropolitan areas, and bring about dramatic structural change. In addition, new metropolitan government structures have by-and-large worked as intended to distribute resources across new ‘unicity’ areas: the development recently seen in places like Soweto has largely been possible because it now falls within the same metropolitan area as wealthy nodes such as Sandton.
- To interrogate the reasoning behind the idea of a ‘province of metros’;
- To determine how the idea is being developed and activated in visions and plans for re-demarcation in different parts of the city-region;
- To assess the validity of the idea in the light of current national debates around broader local government restructuring in the near future;
- To explore the likely benefits in relation to the likely costs of amalgamating municipalities into new metros, considering in particular the transaction costs of this merger process (especially on administrative and service delivery systems) as well as the implications for participatory governance and local government accountability;
- Through (1) to (4), to raise and deepen public debate on an issue which has seen plans being developed largely outside of the public domain; and in turn
- To assist provincial and local government to (a) reach final conclusions on the advisability of instutionalising a province of metros, and (b) if/when this vision is instituted, how to do so in a way that minimizes costs & risks.
Outputs in 2012/13
- A 50-60 page GCRO occasional paper;
- A more concise journal article based on the larger report / paper.