14 September 2010

Local Democracy and LED

Development, Part 9a

Local Democracy and LED

From 15-18 July 2010 the South African Communist Party staged a national Conference of Commissars in Johannesburg, with emphasis on the localisation of politics and on the politics of development at local level.

In this second post of the ninth and penultimate part of our course on “Development”, we take two of the commission report-backs of that Commissars’ Conference, downloadable via the main links below.

In the next post we will foreground COSATU’s Growth Path Document, fully titled “A Growth Path Towards Full Employment”, which was published today, and which is now also linked for download below under “Further Reading”.

We must hope that the ANC will fully deliberate upon these matters of “growth path” at its National General Council from 20-24 September 2010, so that we will be able to update this course with that material before our ten parts are fully run.

Otherwise, the final part will be dedicated to material on the local organisation of the SACP, of SADTU, and of the ANC.

The first of today’s two main linked documents is on the Local Government Turnaround Strategy (LGTAS), but ranges on to electoral tactics and what is called the “deepening” of Local Government.

The second of today’s main linked documents is on Local Economic Development (LED) and on the creation of sustainable livelihoods, including through Co-operatives.

Both of these documents, being unedited commission report-backs, are compiled of dozens of listed points, separated into rudimentary categories. This makes them difficult to summarise.

What one might say is this: That whereas on the face of it the local level is where individuals and small groups of individuals have their best opportunity of taking initiatives, exercising agency, and becoming free subjects within the democracy, yet it is also at local level that the same individuals encounter the most formidable barrage of controls, restrictions, bureaucracy and corruption.

A conclusion from this would be that a great effort now has to be made to educate, organise and mobilise people democratically at the scale of the smallest demarcations, so that democratic interventions at the national level do not translate into bullying, anti-democratic dictatorship and consequent stagnation of the communities at the base of the national pyramid.

The cartoon image is designed to suggest that the negotiation of competing interests is as difficult at the local and the individual level of society as it is at any other level, whereas the education and the expertise to overcome the managerial difficulties is scarcer at that local level. The absent expertise can only be replaced with democratisation, in line with the National Democratic Revolution.

Please download and read these two documents:

Further reading: