Positioning local government in global affairs through international city-to-city agreements: perspectives from eThekwini Municipality.
Jiyane, Nomcebo Nokulunga.
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International city-to-city (IC2C) agreements can be perceived as influential mechanisms for maintaining peace and cooperative learning relationships amongst cities in different nations across various continents. These IC2C agreements include sister-city relationships that were established after WWII to overcome conflicts between nations; this is also referred to as town twinning. In post-apartheid South Africa, eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal province has signed approximately sixteen (16) international city-to-city agreements with cities in different countries. These agreements aim to build diplomatic relationships through various areas of cooperation outlined in the partnership agreements and Memoranda of Understanding between the relevant cities. This study traces the development and implementation of IC2C agreements by gauging activities between 2015 and 2017. The study questions whether citizens benefit from these agreements and the role of these agreements in advancing eThekwini as a local actor in global affairs. Finally, the study develops guidelines for a monitoring system for IC2C agreements. This is a mixed-method study underpinned by transformative and pragmatic philosophical paradigms. Cluster random sampling was used for the quantitative component and purposive sampling for the qualitative component. Data were collected through interviews of three of the four government officials who hold knowledge about IC2C agreements. Of the thirty citizens who participated in some of the IC2C agreements during the study period twenty-five responded to survey questionnaires. SPSS was used to analyse quantitative data while qualitative data in this study were analysed through the integration of content, matrix and thematic analysis. Data source triangulation was performed through primary and secondary evidence. The study found that IC2C agreements do play a role in advancing the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality as a local actor in global affairs. However, not all IC2C agreements remain active and there does not appear to be a written monitoring system. The study further revealed that, although a limited number of citizens are actively involved in the implementation of the agreements, IC2C agreements have the potential for developing the city of Durban and its citizens. Based on the findings and conclusions, certain recommendations are made, including the creation of guidelines for establishing a monitoring system for IC2C agreements, for which this study provides a foundation. The study provides lessons for other municipalities involved in IC2C agreements.