Local Economic Development: Linking Theory and Practice in South Africa’s Local Municipalities


  • Caswell M. Maloka
  • Kgalema A. Mashamaite
  • Matshidisho D. Ledwaba


The purpose of this paper is to assess the linkage between the theory of Local Economic Development (LED) and its application in South Africa during the 20 years of democratic dispensation. The responsibilities of local government in South Africa include the promotion of social, economic, cultural and political transformation of all the communities. The concept of LED became acceptable as a locally-based planning instrument in response to poverty, inequality and unemployment challenges that are currently crippling local municipalities and communities in South Africa. Local municipalities are therefore required through various legislative frameworks to develop and implement LED as a strategic tool that could be used to address social and economic challenges within their areas of jurisdiction. These frameworks are intended to create conducive environment for effective preparation and implementation of LED strategies. Theoretically, LED is viewed as an outcome based on local initiatives driven by local stakeholders that involve identifying and using local resources, skills and ideas as well as economic opportunities to promote economic development. However, the recent practice in terms of LED in the majority of municipalities in the post-apartheid South Africa appears to reflect a disjuncture between LED theory and its operation. The paper argues that if such disparities exist, the realisation of LED objectives in municipalities would be impaired.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n20p218


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How to Cite

Local Economic Development: Linking Theory and Practice in South Africa’s Local Municipalities. (2014). Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(20), 218. https://www.richtmann.org/journal/index.php/mjss/article/view/3727