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Welcome to the website of the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN)


The GGLN is a network of South African non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that aims to promote participatory, effective, accountable and pro-poor local governance.

The network was established in 2003 in order to provide an interface for civil society organisations  working on issues of local governance and citizen participation to network and share information towards strengthening local democracy in South Africa. Other objectives include the documentation and dissemination of good practices, building the capacity of practitioners, advocacy, as well as creating awareness about the value of participatory local governance. 

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Reference Group Members

(From left to right)

Elroy Paulus - Black Sash

Mike Makwela - Planact

Mirjam van Donk - Isandla Institute

Nontando Ngamlana - Afesis-corplan

Kate Tissington - SERI

Rama Naidu - Democracy Development Programme

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GGLN Members met on 23 April 2015 in Cape Town with Aubrey Matshiqi to discuss the 2016 local government elections and how the sector can work toward developing more responible and responsive governance. Aubrey says that change will come from the things we do as citizens in the non-party political space.  



(Re)Claiming Local Democratic Space 

The State of Local Governance Publication 2016

The 2016 “The State of Local Governance” Publication places emphasis on (re)claiming local democratic space as a means of engaging/realising the significance of enabling inclusive democratic practices, which offer value and legitimacy to community realities. Otherwise, these spaces tend to become places of exclusion and narrowness.

With the 2016 municipal elections looming, the theme of (re)claiming local democratic space is critical in cultivating a relationship between local citizenries and elected representatives. The papers in this publication share experiences of the manifestations of institutionalized and to a large extent passive local democratic spaces in South Africa, which have often lead to mistrust between different interest groups. Furthermore, the papers advocate for (re)claiming local democratic space through meaningful partnerships, participation, and active citizenry as well as the use of different modalities and technologies to encourage and support the voices of local communities. A recurring theme in the publication is the need for meaningful citizen-state engagement that is cultivated by the role of intermediaries in an attempt to achieve the true nature of democracy.

For a full copy clice here.


2015 State of Local Governance 'In pursuit of responsible and responsive governance'


The 2015 "The State of Local Governance" Publication draws attention to the need for responsible and responsive local governance to realise the legal and developmental mandate for local government, and to transform relationships within municipalities (i.e. between all actors and structures, including municipal Councils and administrations and local communities). The papers in this publication share experiences of the manifestations of a lack of resonsibility and responsiveness in local governance and provide evidence for what this means for local communities. In contrast, the papers motivate for meaningful citizen engagement in planning, implementation, moniroting and oversight of local development as a precondition for accountability and responsiveness to be institutionalised. A recurring theme in the publication is the need to instil a public service ethos, which is often seen to go hand in hand with value-driven leadership. 

For a full copy click here


State of Local Governance 2013/2014



Community Resilience and Vulnerability in South Africa

The 6th edition of the State of Local Governance Publication explores the notion of resilience and how communities exposed to extreme vulnerabilities and poverty respond to the daily stresses and challenges as well as how communities adapt and transform to overcome their circumstance. Furthermore, it identifies the roles of external agents and the factors that promote and or undermine community resilience. 

For a PDF copy click here


State of Local Governance Publication - 2012/2013



Active Citizenship Matters 


On 14 March 2013 the Good Governance Learning Network launched the fifth edition of the State of Local Governance Publication, Active Citizenship Matters. This edition focuses on a topic that resonates strongly with South Africans as our democracy enters its young adulthood phase. The National Development Plan's elevation of civic activism in development processes echoes the sentiments of the GGLN. People can and should be in control of their own development, not in isolation of the state or other civic actors, but in direct conversation or, at times, in contestation with these other actors. This requires the design of well-constructed, yet organic, processes that are able to mediate power, difference and diversity in a manner that brings forth transformative outcomes. This publication aims to demonstrate such processes at grassroots level.

PDF copy available here:   resolveuid/28df621d8191e2c6e07e67467f005433



State of Local Governance Publication - 2011/2012


Putting participation at the heart of development // putting development at the heart of participation

On 18 April 2012, the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) launched its 4th publication, the 2012 State of Local Governance publication. This publication explores alternative conceptions, approaches and methods for shaping a vibrant, pro-poor system of local governance and democracy in South Africa. It consciously seeks to depart from what has been a preoccupation, both in government and in the local governance civil society sector, with current legislation, policies and practice, and with how these can be better implemented or modified in minor ways. Anyone reading this publication in the hope of finding solutions on how to ‘fix’ the structures and mechanisms already in place will be disappointed unless they are open to exploring innovative approaches and models that aim to enhance participatory local governance. Ultimately, participatory governance needs to be substantive, both in terms of process and with respect to outcomes, hence the call underlying this publication: ‘putting participation at the heart of development // putting development at the heart of participation’.


For a PDF copy of this report, click here.

State of Local Governance Report - 2010/2011


Recognising Community Voices and Dissatisfaction: A Civil Society Perspective on Local Governance in South Africa


On 13 April, the GGLN launched its third State of Local Governance Report. The theme of this year’s report, Recognising Community Voice and Dissatisfaction, was driven to a large extent by community-based protests and the proposed local government policy reforms. These protests have brought wide-spread attention to the gaps in delivery on basic services, a poorly capacitated administrative system and a fledgling political system. This publication includes a varied perspective, considering both formal and emerging or “invented” spaces of participation, and critiques techno-bureaucratic and state-centric approaches to democratic participation.


For a PDF copy of this report, click here.


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State of Local Governance Report - 2009/2010
Ethical Leadership and Political Culture in Local Government: A Civil Society Perspective on Local Governance in South Africa
In July 2009, members of the GGLN came together to share insights and perspectives on the notion of ‘ethical leadership’ or ‘leadership with integrity’, a concept that was seen to have particular significance against the backdrop of recurring and, at the time, intensified community-based protests and pending local government policy reform. This is the second report of the GGLN’s State of Local Governance research initiative, which presents a critical analysis of public leadership in the context of governance and service delivery. The contributions to the report by member organisations of the GGLN not only shed light on a topic where we lack information and critical insight, but they importantly raise some necessary questions on this elusive concept of leadership as it relates to the South African local government sphere.





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State of Local Governance Report - 2008

Local Democracy in Action: A Civil Society Perspective on Local Governance in South Africa

Last year marked the tenth anniversary of the 1998 White Paper on Local Government. Under the guidance of this document, the form and substance of local government and governance in South Africa has been fundamentally reshaped. As a network of civil society organisations active in the field of local governance, we have been witnesses to the development of South Africa’s new system of local government over the past decade, and have observed its successes and shortcomings as they unfolded. This report provides the GGLN’s perspective on the local governance environment, of what has been achieved, and the priorities and challenges that lie ahead.


Click here...



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