Our Work


Community Development

We monitor spatial development and service delivery across South Africa.

We work with all stakeholders to improve development and political participation.



We advocate for the devolution of power through our work in municipal planning and local economic development.

We support open, transparent and community engagement.

research and advocacy

Research and Visualisations

We publish our findings on political activity, political reform, spatial development, and public finance.

We use data visualisation tools to make our research more effective.

Independent candidates and small parties

There is a gap in our political landscape that is waiting to be filled: independent candidates are underrepresented. Our electoral system favours political parties and independent candidates are penalised at every step of the process. Small parties have more power under our system than in some other countries, but their long-term track record is patchy.

We make it easier and cheaper for independent candidates to register, train, and campaign for an election. Our team and our network of partners provides the research, marketing and training of an established party.

We use technology and social media to connect candidates to their communities and to support their work if they are elected to office, because the hard work of municipal service delivery happens after the elections.

Our research team monitors and analyses political activity, political sentiment, and election results. We are constantly growing our network of political stakeholders and advising parties and independents.

We advocate for and promote new political entrants that share our values. Our media publications focus on the performance of independents and smaller parties. Our monitoring work includes the identification of new political players.



Our research on independent candidates reveals their poor performance. In the 2016 municipal election there were 73 independent candidates in the Gauteng province.

No independent candidates have won a ward seat in Gauteng since 2016 – not even in the by-elections.

Community development

Political participation is not limited to elections. It includes many other opportunities to give input into public policy, hold public representatives accountable, and participate in service delivery.

Informed, organised communities can participate in the municipal planning process and monitor the development of their ward and municipality. Even where government is unresponsive, empowered communities are in a better position to provide internal support and development.

Our research project in south-east Ekurhuleni metro municipality monitors the infrastructure and needs of 17 wards. We have mapped community resources (including libraries, schools, and police stations) and analysed community infrastructure requests in the municipal development plans.

Future work on this project will include community mapping and monitoring. Community members will be able to record service delivery problems and create an infrastructure wishlist for their communities. We will extend our coverage of community resources and stakeholders to include churches, food gardens, training centres and more.

Stronger communities can also hold their councillors to account and ensure that they are doing their job. Our political work complements the work we are doing with communities: the relationship between councillor and community should be one of mutual cooperation and support.



The Ekurhuleni integrated development plan (IDP) lists the top five development requests of each ward.

We will monitor the 2021 IDP to see which of these projects has been approved by the new municipal council

Research and advocacy

Our research covers many areas, including public finance, local economic development, public policy, and political reform. We publish our findings on this website and through national news media.

Our ongoing research projects support our other work. Our election and polling database includes election results from 2011 and political surveys by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO). Our political monitoring work provides regular updates on political developments and activity.

Our monitoring work isn’t limited to political parties and communities. We review all the legislative developments and court judgements that are relevant to our mission of greater political participation – we are keeping a close eye on future laws that will allow independent candidates at the national and provincial levels.

We advocate loudly and strongly for political reform, and we support independent candidates at every opportunity. We host regular events to showcase the experience of independent candidates and community organisations.



research and advocacy

We use different tools to share our research. We have created interactive maps and charts, podcasts and webinars to share our work. See our media page for some examples.