An assessment of the role of public participation in IDP : the Thulamela Municipality
Thesis (MPA (School of Public Management and Planning))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
The concept of public participation has gained wider acceptance in government circles as a tool to strengthen the pillars of this government’s democratic structures. Globally, governments’ accountability can be gauged by the extent to which they practise public participation in decision-making in facing up to the challenges of the day. The concept of public participation arrived in South Africa in the 1980s and was supposedly applied to the inception of a true democratic dispensation in 1994. In the South African context, public participation cannot be over-emphasised as it underpins the democracy introduced in 1994. Because of the great importance of public participation, the South African government has enacted a number of statutes such as the Constitution (1996) and the Municipal Structures Act (2000) that give substance to public participation. Even though public participation is applied at national and provincial government levels in South Africa, it is principally in the Local Government field where it is widely applied in order to enable good governance and sustainable service delivery. This study examines the role of ward committees in public participation in Local Government, with specific reference to Thulamela Municipality. The study suggests that the transformation and democratisation of South African Local Government can be achieved through effective implementation of public participation at grassroots level. Apart from passing legislation, more needs to be done to stimulate public participation. The study has furthermore found that even though statutes provide for communities to participate in a range of government-created regulatory structures such as the IDP Representative Forums and Ward Committees, municipalities need to develop strategies for public participation. Not only do municipalities need to develop strategies for public participation, they also need to develop proper mechanisms to encourage the participation of community stakeholders and organisations. The study is primarily based on qualitative data collected from Thulamela Municipality through personal interviews with councillors, officials and ward committee members. Moreover, the study also rests on observations at IDP Representative Forums, IDP and Budget consultative meetings, focus group discussions and a review of local government statutes and literature providing knowledge on the subject under study.