Pro-poor local economic development (LED): the case of Umzinyathi District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal
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From South Africa’s National Framework for implementing local economic development (LED), LED is defined as “Local Economic Development (LED) is the process by which public, business, and non-governmental sector partners work collectively to create better conditions for economic growth and employment generation to build up an economic capacity of a local area to improve its economic future and the quality of life for all” (DeCoG, 2013:5). The historical perspective for South African LED is unique and painful because of the apartheid and segregation policies, which meant that LED is implemented through central government and benefits few. Post-apartheid, the government introduced pro-poor LED policies to alleviate poverty, grow the local economy, and create job opportunities for marginalised communities. This study aims to assess how pro-poor LED strategies improve the lives of poor people in uMzinyathi District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal. The study is designed and executed following a qualitative methodology, and semi-structured interviews were used as a qualitative data collection method for this study. The study has revealed that LED in uMzinyathi has not lived up to its expectations to reduce poverty and create job opportunities for the poor and marginalised groups. The study found several constraints within the municipality that contribute to the poor implementation of LED, such as lack of infrastructure, gaps in human capacity, LED funding, and lack of shared understanding of LED and its role.