The 2011 local elections campaigns in the Tlokwe municipality, North-West Province: enhancing participatory governance?

20 September 2012

The South African Local Government Municipal Systems Act (Act 32 of 2000) requires participatory governance. Although this Act is not concerned with electoral participation in the first instance, it is argued that it also sets the tone for electoral communication. In the spirit of participatory governance it could be expected ofpolitical parties to inform the electorate about issues relevant to local government, stimulate debate, motivate voters to participate in the elections and promote democratic values. Against this background, this article endeavours to investigate to what extent the campaigns of political parties in the 2011 local elections displayed the context of local developmental government and enhanced participatory governance. A qualitative content analysis was done of the election material (manifestos, posters, television advertisements and pamphlets) of the ANC, DA, FF+ and Cope in the Tlokwe Municipality. It was found that all the parties adhered to the spirit of and actively promoted local developmental government in their manifestos, although they did so to a lesser extent in the more popular media (posters, television advertisements and pamphlets). It was concluded that these messages were not harmful to the sustainability of local developmental democracy.