Author: Paul Mudau
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law at the University of South Africa
Local government is the sphere of government that is closest to the people and represents the front line of service delivery. Holding competitive, periodic, inclusive and definitive elections at the local level strengthens democracy. The competitive component of local democratic elections indicates that political party and ward candidates may criticise the party or coalition that governs the municipality, and other party and ward candidates openly. They may suggest alternative policies and candidates to voters. Decisions of locally elected representatives directly affects the local communities. Failure to satisfy voters may result in the governing local public representatives being voted out of office in the next (periodic) elections. On the other hand, good performance often comes with a reward, getting re-elected into office. Thus, ideally, conditions at the local level forces and entices locally elected public officials to accounts to the needs of local communities.