Marius Pieterse | Law and Development Review
The ways in which cities function and are governed matter economically. While the growing literature on ‘global cities’ shows that city governments often pursue economic competitiveness, not much work has been done on whether the formal powers and competencies of cities and towns, as well as the ways in which these are wielded, are conducive to the achievement of developmental and socio-economic objectives. This article considers the interactions and interdependencies between local government law, urban governance, developmental objectives and formal as well as informal cross-border trade between cities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. While supporting increased devolution of local government powers, it cautions that cities of SADC must take care to wield their powers in ways that ensure the economic flourishing of the majority of their inhabitants. In particular, this requires a change of mindset in relation to the municipal regulation of informal economic activity.