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The South African Local Government and Municipal Planning Responses to COVID-19


Year published: 2022
Categories: Book Chapter
URL Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-91112-6_26

Author / Authors:

  • Verna Nel
  • Martin Lewis


First Online: 04 May 2022
Part of the Local and Urban Governance book series (LUG)


When COVID-19 cases began to rise in South Africa, the national government took strong action, based on dire predictions from medical advisors and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. This response was controlled by the national government through a Coronavirus Command Council. A hard lockdown was imposed, which has gradually been eased. The initial lockdown had massive social and economic consequences with high job losses in an economy already in recession and acute food insecurity in poor areas. Actions which the national government also attended to included water provision to settlements without water and dealing with dense informal settlements. Local governments were called on to assist in providing food packages, water, shelter for the homeless and permits to informal food traders. In this chapter, we examine the responses of local government to COVID-19 given its constitutional mandates and specifically around municipal planning services. We draw our data from secondary sources such as media articles and reports by various institutions as well as interviews with key informants. Our findings reveal that some municipalities have performed well but many have struggled with the corruption, maladministration and the lack of capacity that has plagued local government over the past decades. There was also a limited response from local government in identifying and communicating processes and procedures relating to their urban planning function during earlier lockdown stages. We found a relationship between the governance capacity of local governments and their audit outcomes. Increasing the ethical governance practices as well as capacity of local government is critical to improve the performance of local government and their ability to promote the social and economic development of their residents.

Cite this chapter
Nel, V., Lewis, M. (2022). The South African Local Government and Municipal Planning Responses to COVID-19. In: Nunes Silva, C. (eds) Local Government and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Local and Urban Governance. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-91112-6_26


  • Book Chapter