Original Research

Ward councillors’ leadership characteristics and their impact on service delivery: Case of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa, in 2018

Zamokuhle Mbandlwa, Syden Mishi
Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation | Vol 1 | a5 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jolgri.v1i0.5 | © 2020 Zamokuhle Mbandlwa, Syden Mishi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 July 2019 | Published: 03 February 2020

About the author(s)

Zamokuhle Mbandlwa, Department of Economics Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Syden Mishi, Department of Public Management, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Background: A municipality is considered as the first level of government that is closer to the people and is expected to deliver to the needs of the people. Political leadership is provided by elected ward councillors with the responsibility of delivering the public services at the local government level and also entrusted with control of the resources of local government.

Aim: The aim of this article was to evaluate the leadership characteristics of ward councillors and determine how such characteristics influence public service delivery in the eThekwini Municipality.

Setting: The individual leadership characteristics of ward councillors contribute to how decisions are made at the local government level and eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality as the third largest metropolitan municipality in the country is viewed as a strategic municipality.

Methods: This article adopted the form of a descriptive case study which employed a mixed-methods approach, using qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis. The study found that the leadership rating score, education and experience are key factors in good leadership (experienced less or no service delivery protest). A regression variable plot was used to analyse community members’ responses on rating each ward councillor.

Results: The results show that lower levels of leadership characteristics are marred by numerous service delivery protests, and leadership characteristics increase chances of getting service delivery response albeit taking a U-shape.

Conclusion: It is recommended that ward councillors undergo a background check and enrol for leadership training programmes immediately when they are elected as ward councillors.


leadership; characteristics; politics; challenges; principles; governance


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