Public participation in parliament : perspectives on social media technology (SMT)

Sefora, Margaret Motshidisi (2017-12)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Public participation is encouraged in democracies to heighten decision-making, transparency, accountability and good governance. Globally, the trend to increase and enhance public participation is growing rapidly. So much so that almost all democracies have now embraced it as an agenda for good governance. The introduction of new media led parliaments to experiment with these tools to make the public aware and for them to understand the role of parliament in the governance of the country and to enhance citizen participation in the law-making process through consultations, public hearings, committee work and elections. The Parliament of South Africa is mandated by the Constitution (1996) to facilitate public participation in all their processes. To execute their mandate, Parliament introduced a few strategies to facilitate public participation in their processes. Previous research indicates that public participation is still ineffective in Parliament. Thus, in an effort to enhance it, Parliament developed a model that is aimed at standardising all public participation activities in the institution. This study attempts to asses if the use of Social Media Technologies (SMTs) in parliament processes can enhance public participation. The focus of the study is on the theories of public participation and on the developing theories of SMTs for good governance. To collect data, two research techniques were applied during this study; namely, document analysis and structured interviews with experts in Parliament in both the fields of public participation and SMTs. This study found that Parliament has established a good foothold in the SMT landscape. However, there are challenges that hinder the institution in fully leveraging on this foothold to enhance public participation. It concludes that public participation is still ineffective in Parliament; however, this can change once Parliament overcomes challenges in the use of SMTs and takes advantage of already established SMTs to enhance public participation. These SMTs can enhance public participation if implemented properly. Based on the findings, a number of recommendations are presented.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Openbare deelname word in demokratiese state aangemoedig ter wille van beter besluitneming, deursigtigheid, verantwoordbaarheid en goeie landsbestuur. Wêreldwyd is daar ‘n neiging om openbare deelname te verhoog en uit te brei, in so ‘n mate dat bykans alle demokratiese state dié metode reeds aanvaar as ‘n resep vir goeie landsbestuur. Met die ontstaan van nuwe media die Parlemente hierdie middele begin gebruik as instrumente om openbare bewustheid van en begrip vir die Parlement se rol in landsbestuur te bevorder, en om burgers se deelname aan wetgewing uit te brei. Dit is gedoen deur burgers te betrek by oorlegpleigng, verhore, komiteewerk en meningsopnames. Die Parlement van Suid-Afrika het ingevolge die Grondwet (1996) die mandaat om openbare deelname te fasiliteer en om die publiek by al sy werksaamhede te betrek. Ten einde hierdie mandaat uit te voer, het die Parlement verskeie strategieë ontwikkel om openbare deelname in sy werksaamhede te bevorder. Bestaande navorsing dui daarop dat dié metodes tot dusver nie effektief was nie. Om dié situasie aan te spreek, het die Parlement ‘n model ontwikkel om alle vorme van openbare deelname aan die instelling se bedrywighede te standardiseer. Hierdie studie probeer vasstel of die gebruik van SMTe (Sosiale Media-Tegnologieë) die publiek se deelname aan werksaamhede van die Parlement kan verhoog. In hierdie studie val die klem op teorieë oor openbare deelname, asook op die ontwikkeling van teorieë oor SMTe vir goeie landsbestuur. Twee navorsingstegnieke is toegepas om data vir hierdie ondersoek te versamel: die ontleding van dokumente, asook gestruktureerde onderhoude met deskundiges op die gebied van openbare deelname en SMTe in die Parlement. Die studie het bevind dat die Parlement ‘n goeie grondslag gele het op die gebied van SMTe; daar is egter wel uitdagings wat die Parlement verhinder om hierdie goeie grondslag ten beste te benut. Die studie kom daarom tot die gevolgtrekking dat openbare deelname in die werksaamhede van die Parlement nog steeds ondoeltreffend is. Dit kan egter verander indien die Parlament die uitdagings t.o.v. die gebruik van SMTe oorkom en die reeds gevestigde SMTe benut om openbare deelname te versterk. Kortliks gestel, SMTe kan ‘n bydrae lewer om openbare deelname te verhoog indien dit behoorlik benut word. Op die grondslag van hierdie bevindinge word daar ‘n paar aanbevelings gemaak.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102868
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