Assessing the Ward Committee System: The case of Greater Kokstad Municipality

Mbhele, Zuziwe (2017-12)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Public participation is a key aspect of developmental local government. Flowing from this, a ward committee system was introduced in South Africa, as a conduit for driving public participation programmes. This study set out to explore the experiences of ward committee members in Greater Kokstad Municipality (GKM). The intention was to evaluate the ward committee system as a vehicle for meaningful public participation in the integrated development planning processes. This study sought to analyse the interactional dynamics of aspects of the experiences of selected ward committee members of their participation in the ward committee system as a conduit for public participation in GKM. The research was located within a qualitative research tradition, and took the form of a small-scale case study. The data-generation research techniques included focus group interview sessions with ward committee members; and the analysis of key documents, whose intention was to understand the context or setting in which ward committees operated in GKM. Findings of the study revealed that the ward committee system was marred with challenges that often rendered it ineffective as a voice of communities in integrated development planning processes. The reasons for dysfunctionalities and functionalities in the ward committee system were largely a mix of structural, political, social, economic and operational dynamics; and functionality of ward committees was often weak and varied, and depended largely on the context and agency of ward committees. The findings of the study point to the fact that those involved in fulfilling the constitutional promise of public participation, must consider the interactional dynamics of ideological, political, and operational aspects of the ward committee system as a vehicle for meaningful public participation. Furthermore, the study reveals conventional understandings of public participation, which are mostly oblivious of its political and ideological dimensions. The call made by this study is for a paradigmatic shift towards the understanding of public participation as a political and ideological construct, rather than a purely technical construct. Findings also suggest that creating new invited spaces for public participation may not be sufficient to empower communities to participate meaningfully in decision-making processes. Therefore, for the ward committee system to work, there is a need to problematise conventional understandings of public participation, and relocate public participation within the radical politics of integrated development planning (Hickey & Mohan, 2005: 237). This would however require relevant mechanisms to ensure that the ward committee system supports the transformation of power relations in the realm of public participation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Openbare deelname is 'n belangrike aspek van ontwikkelingsgerigte plaaslike regering. Voortspruitend hieruit is 'n wykskomiteestelsel as 'n kanaal vir die bestuur van programme vir openbare deelname in Suid-Afrika bekendgestel. Die huidige studie onderneem om die ervarings van wykskomiteelede in die Groter Kokstad Munisipaliteit (GKM) te verken. Die doel was om die wykskomiteestelsel as 'n voertuig vir betekenisvolle openbare deelname aan geïntegreerde ontwikkelingsbeplanningsprosesse te ondersoek. Met hierdie studie is gepoog om die interaksionele dinamika van aspekte van die ervarings van geselekteerde wykskomiteelede se deelname aan die wykskomiteestelsel as 'n kanaal vir openbare deelname in die GKM te ontleed. Die navorsing volbinne 'n kwalitatiewe navorsingstradisie, en is in die vorm van 'n kleinskaalse gevallestudie onderneem. Die navorsingstegnieke vir datagenerering het fokusgroeponderhoudsessies met wykskomiteelede en die ontleding van belangrike dokumente ingesluit. Die doel was om 'n begrip te verkry van die konteks of omgewing waarin wykskomitees in die GKM bedryf word. Bevindinge van die studie het getoon dat die wykskomiteestelsel belemmer word deur uitdagings wat dit dikwels oneffektief maak as 'n stem van gemeenskappe in geïntegreerde ontwikkelingsbeplanningprosesse. Die redes vir wanfunksionering en funksionaliteit in die wykskomiteestelsel kan grootliks toegeskryf word aan 'n mengsel van strukturele, politieke, sosiale, ekonomiese en operassionele werkinge, en funksies van wykskomitees was dikwels swak en gevarieerd, en grootliks afhanklik van die konteks en werking van wykskomitees. Die bevindinge van die studie dui op die feit dat diegene wat betrokke is by die nakoming die grondwetlike belofte van openbare deelname, die interaksionele dinamika van ideologiese, politieke, en operasionele aspekte van die wykskomitee stelsel as 'n voertuig vir betekenisvolle openbare deelname moet beskou. Verder het die studie ‘n probleem met die konvensionele begrip van openbare deelname, wat meestal onbewus van politieke en ideologiese dimensies is. Wat hierdie studie bepleit is 'n paradigmatiese verskuiwing na die begrip van openbare deelname as 'n politieke en ideologiese konstruk, eerder as 'n suiwer tegniese konstruk. Die bevindinge dui ook daarop dat die skep van nuwe genooide ruimtes vir publieke deelname moontlik nie voldoende is om gemeenskappe te bemagtig om sinvol aan besluitnemingsprosesse deel te neem nie. Vir die wykskomiteestelsel om te werk, is daar dus 'n behoefte daaraan om konvensionele begrippe van openbare deelname te bevraagteken, en openbare deelname binne die radikale politiek van geïntegreerde ontwikkelingsbeplanning te hervestig (Hickey & Mohan, 2005: 237). Dit sou egter relevante meganismes vereis om te verseker dat die wykskomiteestelsel die transformasie van magsverhoudings op die gebied van openbare deelname ondersteun.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102716
This item appears in the following collections: