Local government is a constitutional imperative in South Africa. Section 152 (1) of the country’s constitution requires municipalities to be responsive, accountable and inclusive.  A 2009 document by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) defines local government as “a key part of the reconstruction and development effort in our country”. Yet, 21 years into the democratic dispensation, local government is failing.One measure of this is growing civic dissatisfaction with the quality of local government. According to the Civic Protests Barometer 2007-2014, published by the Multi-Level Government Initiative (MLGI), the number of “civic protests” in South Africa reached an all-time high in 2014, at 218. Since 2008, there have been over 100 protest incidents every year.The level of violence associated with these protests is also rising. “In 2007 just less than half the protests were associated with some violence. In 2014 almost 80% of protests involved ...

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