The Governance of Urban Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure in the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality and the Application of Analytic Eclecticism


  • Richard Meissner Centre for Water Resources Research | University of KwaZulu-Natal


analytic eclecticism, wastewater, Olifants River, Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality, theory, governance, individuals


The governance of urban wastewater treatment works goes beyond the daily maintenance and
upkeep of such systems. The governance includes interested and affected parties (stakeholders)
further afield than the immediate proximity of the plant. As the concept might imply, governance
would be an activity that is the purview of government only. This is not the case. Individuals and
communities living downstream from such infrastructure and scientists can also become part of
governance, either voluntarily or by default. Because of the wide range of stakeholders involved in
the governance of wastewater infrastructure, we need to understand how and to what extent they
influence governance. More so, it will be important to look also into the consequences of their
actions while directly or indirectly governing wastewater infrastructure. In order to move beyond
the traditional conceptualisation of governance as a government activity, this paper will utilise the
ethos of analytic eclecticism and in particular six theories to investigate and widen our understanding
of urban wastewater treatment governance. The six theories are (1) everyday international
political economy, (2) interactive governance, (3) liberal pluralism, (4) interest group corporatism,
(5) interest group pluralism and (6) psychological constructivism. This will, I hope, assist practitioners
in formulating better policies as well as implementing them. The case study area is urban
wastewater treatment in the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality located in South Africa’s
Limpopo Province. The Municipality faces a number of governance challenges like skills scarcity,
a large geographic area to provide services to, rapid socio-economic development because of the
mushrooming of platinum mines and a diversity of communities and other actors to providing
services. The six theories all indicate different facets the actors employ or are affected by during
the governing process. By employing the six theories, it becomes apparent that linear cause and
effect relationships between the actors and the issue are impossible. It also shows that predicting
the outcome of certain aspects, like the role of individuals, is impossible. It does paint, however, a
fuller picture of what is happening in reality.


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How to Cite

Meissner, R. . (2015). The Governance of Urban Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure in the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality and the Application of Analytic Eclecticism. International Journal of Water Governance, 3(2), 79–110. Retrieved from



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