Original Research

Enhancing municipal councillors’ oversight in local, district, and metropolitan municipalities

David J. Fourie, Gerrit van der Waldt
Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation | Vol 4 | a145 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jolgri.v4i0.145 | © 2023 David J. Fourie, Gerrit van der Waldt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 June 2023 | Published: 06 November 2023

About the author(s)

David J. Fourie, School of Public Management and Administration, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Gerrit van der Waldt, Department of Social Transformation, Faculty of Public Governance, Social Transformation, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Background: Municipal councillors have a statutory and moral obligation to perform an oversight function over all municipal functions and ensure that suitable corrective measures are taken to deepen local democracy.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether municipal councillors succeed in their oversight role to deepen democracy in the local sphere of government.

Setting: The study was conducted among a sample of local, district, and metropolitan municipalities in South Africa.

Methods: An online-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from four target groups, namely chairpersons of Section 79 oversight committees (T1), chairpersons of standing and/or portfolio committees (T2), chairpersons of provincial Standing Committees on Public Accounts (T3) and local government experts (T4).

Results: It was found that councillors are relatively ill-prepared to conduct their oversight responsibilities although adequate statutory prescripts and oversight mechanisms and structures are in place.

Conclusion: Focused capacity-building programmes are required to enhance the competencies of councillors in conducting their oversight role and thereby to deepen democracy in the local sphere of government.

Contribution: The research shows that municipal councillors do not have the necessary capacity and tools to perform their oversight role and recommends appropriate strategies and practices to improve the effectiveness of councillors in conducting oversight roles.


councillor oversight; municipal oversight structures; oversight instruments; local democracy; community participation; accountability

JEL Codes

H30: General; H70: General; H79: Other

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals


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