11Modelling in the ‘Muddled Middle’: A Case Study of Water Service Delivery in Post‐Apartheid South Africa

Jai K. Clifford‐Holmes, Jill H. Slinger, Chris de Wet and Carolyn G. Palmer

11.1 Introduction

At the centre of the South African water law reform process initiated by the first democratic government in 1994 lay the challenge of managing water differently from the way it was managed under apartheid (Rowlston, 2011). This process culminated in the promulgation of the National Water Act of 1998 and the Water Services Act of 1997, which are regarded internationally as ambitious and forward‐thinking instances of legislation that reflect the broad aims of integrated water resource management (IWRM) (Schreiner, 2013). The local government sector was also redesigned in the first decade of democracy, with extensive powers and autonomy granted to the sector under a policy of developmental local government (DLG) (Republic of South Africa, 1998). Both DLG and IWRM aspire towards decentralized decision‐making, participatory governance and management, and the integration of multiple issues that have social, environmental and technical dimensions. However, both IWRM and DLG have been criticized for implementation failures in post‐apartheid South Africa (Mehta et al., 2014; Siddle and Koelble, 2012), which have led to proposals from national government that water policy needs to be redesigned (Department of Water Affairs, 2013) and that local government powers and functions should be reassessed ...

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