Impediments to meaningful and effective public participation in local government budgeting in the Western Cape

Nabe, Tembela Wilberforce (2016-03)

Thesis (D.Phil)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: Challenges facing the municipalities in the Western Cape have been identified as multifaceted impetuses that require a comprehensive action plan. Government at national, provincial and local sphere in South Africa, with the help of academics, is experimenting with and evolving its approaches for imposing development plans and revitalising municipalities. A major challenge facing South Africa at local government sphere is the need to ensure that the formal processes of representative democracy become meaningful for ordinary citizens, and particularly the poor. Creating this opportunity for local residents to be part of planning and decision-making has not yet become the norm for municipalities in the Western Cape. This in turn decreases the level of participation in decision-making. Citizen input is generally viewed as a way to reduce the level of citizen distrust in government and to educate people about government activities. For example, citizens in cities with greater levels of participation have been found to be less cynical about local government. This study is based on the assumption that municipalities in the Western Cape, like other municipalities in South Africa, are confronted with numerous challenges when implementing the constitutional developmental mandate conferred on them by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. It is vital that local government understands and contextualises these challenges, so that appropriate interventions are developed. This study was conducted in order to identify the problems that impede meaningful and effective public participation in decision-making, with a focus on the local government budgeting process. The study found that there are problems that impede meaningful and effective public participation in the budgetary processes. While provision is made for the creation of ward committees, the reality is that there are existing structures in the form of development committees or forums, established for a particular purpose or geographic area, that are being used to this end. This results in tension between the proposed structure and scope of committees, as well as around issues of adequate representation and accountability. In addition, in many instances municipalities have not formalised these structures to avoid having to make budgetary provisions for their operation and they are as a result under-resourced. IDP forums established to drive the IDP formulation and review processes are only open to recognised structures, and no other community groups or individuals. In the main, these are drawn from ward committee structures, with their inherent problems of legitimacy, accountability and representation. The capacity of councillors and officials is sometimes a further impediment to public participation. Many are dedicated community development activists facing complex and intimidating processes. The role played by skilled and experienced officials in manipulating processes often comes into question, compounded by issues of racism. The tension between elected and traditional local government role players and the inadequate use of traditional structures and mechanisms to disseminate information and involve communities in decision-making processes serves to weaken public participation in municipal processes. Likewise, IDP steering committees comprise only officials and councillors, not representatives of community structures. Finally, consultants developed many municipal IDPs without adequately engaging affected communities. This does not comply with the White Paper on Local Government (1998) requirement that this process be community driven, and capacitate communities. Council legislative processes pose similar challenges to those of provincial and national government, in that they are not easily accessible to marginalised groups, not well publicised, the language is intimidating and time frames for input are tight. The accessibility and accountability of councillors continues to be an issue, even with ward councillors, with many communities still claiming not to know who their councillors are. Communities are typically not consulted or provided with feedback. The code of conduct for councillors is applied to actions to be taken by municipalities in relation to councillors’ performance in council, rather than recourse available to aggrieved communities. Solutions are recommended in this study to address challenges faced by the communities with respect to public participation in the budget process. There is a need for capacity-building by councillors, ward committee members and the community, particularly regarding the municipal budget process, the relation between the capital and operating budget, how income is generated, and how to influence resource allocation decision and taxation policies. Training on the issues identified above should be practical. There should be strong political will from the government who should be supported by an enabling legal framework. For participatory budgeting to be effective, public officials need to provide citizens with detailed and accessible information to help them better understand budgetary constraints and options. Experts should play an essential role as technical advisors, clarifying the range of possible and appropriate budget projects, and working with residents to design sound projects. Improvement in communication between councillors, ward committee members and the community would enhance the participation process. It is important to include the development of a communication strategy in any capacity-building programme. During this study a multiple methods research approach was employed, one of these being the use of a framework of participatory budgeting, implemented in both Porto Alegre (Brazil) and Kerala (India), to analyse participatory budgeting in six municipalities in the Western Cape province in order to identify appropriate lessons for the South African context. Further to this, interviews and supplementary questionnaires were facilitated in Breede Valley, Overstrand, George, Langeberg, Stellenbosch, and Theewaterskloof to identify problems that impede meaningful and effective public participation in the formulation of budgets in those municipalities. In addition, municipal documents were used to review the existing situation within these municipalities.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Uitdagings wat munisipaliteite in die Wes-Kaap in die gesig staar, is geïdentifiseer as stukragte met vele fasette wat 'n omvattende plan van aksie vereis. Die regering in Suid-Afrika is op nasionale, provinsiale en plaaslike vlak besig om met die hulp van akademici met benaderings tot ontwikkelingsplanne vir die instelling van en die herstel van munisipaliteite te eksperimenteer en dit te verander. ‘n Groot uitdaging vir Suid-Afrika op plaaslike regeringsvlak is die behoefte om te verseker dat die formele prosesse van verteenwoordigende demokrasie vir gewone burgers betekenisvol word, veral vir diegene wat arm is. Die skep van ’n geleentheid vir plaaslike inwoners om deel te neem aan beplanning en besluitneming het nog nie die norm in Wes-Kaapse munisipaliteite geword nie. Die vlak van deelname aan besluitneming word hierdeur verlaag. Insette deur burgers word algemeen beskou as 'n manier om die vlak van burger wantroue in die regering te verlaag, en mense met betrekking tot die regering se bedrywighede te onderrig. Daar is byvoorbeeld gevind dat inwoners van stede waar daar groter vlakke van deelname is, minder sinies oor plaaslike regering is. Hierdie studie is gebaseer op die aanname dat munisipaliteite in die Wes-Kaap, soos ander munisipaliteite in Suid-Afrika, met talle uitdagings gekonfronteer word in die uitvoering van die grondwetlike ontwikkelingsmandaat wat aan hulle in die Grondwet van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika van 1996 toegeken is. Dit is noodsaaklik vir plaaslike regering om hierdie uitdagings te verstaan en te kontekstualiseer, sodat toepaslike intredes ontwikkel kan word. Die studie is met die oog op die begrotingsproses in plaaslike regering onderneem om probleme wat betekenisvolle en doeltreffende openbare deelname aan besluitneming in die wiele ry, te identifiseer. Die studie het bevind dat daar wel probleme is wat betekenisvolle en doeltreffende openbare deelname in die begrotingsprosesse belemmer. Terwyl daar voorsiening gemaak word vir die skepping van wykskomitees, is daar in der waarheid reeds bestaande strukture in die vorm van die ontwikkelingskomitees of forums vir ‘n spesifieke doel of geografiese gebied wat vir hierdie doel gebruik word. Dit lei tot spanning tussen die voorgestelde struktuur en die bestek van komitees, sowel as rondom kwessies van voldoende verteenwoordiging en aanspreeklikheid. Daarbenewens het munisipaliteite in baie gevalle nie hierdie strukture geformaliseer nie, om te verhoed dat daar vir die werking daarvan in die begroting voorsiening gemaak moet word. Sodanige strukture is gevolglik sonder die nodige hulpbronne. Forums vir die Geïntegreerde Ontwikkelingsplan (GOP) wat gestig is om die GOP-formulering en hersieningsprosesse te stuur, betrek slegs erkende strukture, en nie ander groepe of individue in die gemeenskap nie. Hierdie forums kom hoofsaaklik uit wykskomiteestrukture met hul inherente probleme van legitimiteit, aanspreeklikheid en verteenwoordiging. Die bevoegdheid van raadslede en amptenare verteenwoordig soms ‘n verdere struikelblok tot openbare deelname. Baie van hulle is toegewyde onwikkelingsaktiviste wat voor ingewikkelde en intimiderende prosesse te staan kom. Die rol wat deur bekwame en ervare amptenare in die manipulering van prosesse gespeel word, word dikwels bevraagteken en deur kwessies rondom rassisme vererger. Die spanning tussen verkose en tradisionele rolspelers in plaaslike regering en die ontoereikende gebruik van tradisionele strukture en meganismes om inligting te versprei en gemeenskappe by besluitnemingsprosesse te betrek, lei ook daartoe dat openbare deelname in munisipale prosesse verswak. GOP reëlingskomitees bestaan eweneens slegs uit amptenare en raadslede, nie uit verteenwoordigers van gemeenskapstrukture nie. Ten slotte is baie munisipale gemeenskapsontwikkelingsplanne deur konsultante ontwikkel sonder om geaffekteerde gemeenskappe voldoende te betrek. Dit voldoen nie aan die vereistes van die Witskrif op Plaaslike Regering nie, waarvolgens hierdie proses deur die gemeenskap gestuur moet word en gemeenskappe moet bemagtig. Wetgewende prosesse van die Raad hou soortgelyke uitdagings in as dié van die provinsiale en nasionale regering, in die sin dat hulle nie maklik vir gemarginaliseerde groepe toeganklik is nie, nie goed gepubliseer is nie, intimiderende taal gebruik en té kort tydraamwerke vir insette behels. Die toeganklikheid en aanspreeklikheid van raadslede, selfs wyksraadslede, bly 'n probleem en baie gemeenskappe beweer steeds dat hulle nie weet wie hul raadslede is nie. Hulle word tipies nie geraadpleeg nie en ontvang geen terugvoer nie. Die gedragskode vir raadslede word toegepas op die optrede van munisipaliteite met betrekking tot raadslede se prestasie in die raad, eerder as ‘n toevlug tot beskikking van gegriefde gemeenskappe. Oplossings word in hierdie studie aanbeveel om uitdagings wat deur gemeenskappe met betrekking tot openbare deelname in die begrotingsproses ervaar word, aan te spreek. Daar is behoefte aan kapasiteitsbou by raadslede, wykskomiteelede en die gemeenskap, veral ten opsigte van die munisipale begrotingsproses, die verband tussen die kapitaal- en bestuursbegrotings, hoe inkomste gegenereer word, en hoe om besluite ten opsigte van die toekenning van hulpbronne en belastingbeleid te beïnvloed. Opleiding in hierdie kwessies moet prakties van aard wees. Daar behoort sterk politieke wilskrag vanaf regeringskant te wees, met ‘n ondersteunende bemagtigende wetlike raamwerk. Vir deelnemende begroting om effektief te wees, moet openbare amptenare gedetailleerde en toeganklike inligting aan burgers voorsien om hulle te help om begrotingsbeperkinge en opsies beter te verstaan. Kenners moet 'n noodsaaklike rol as tegniese adviseurs speel om die omvang van moontlike en toepaslike begrotingsprojekte te verduidelik en grondige projekte in samewerking met inwoners te ontwerp. Verbeterde kommunikasie tussen raadslede, wykskomiteelede en die gemeenskap sal die deelnemingsproses vergemaklik. Dit is belangrik om die ontwikkeling van ‘n kommunikasiestrategie in enige kapasiteitsbouprogram in te sluit. Die benadering tot die navorsing het verskeie metodes behels. Een hiervan was die gebruik van ‘n raamwerk vir deelnemende begroting wat in Porto Alegre (Brasilië) en Kerala (Indië) geïmplementeer is, om deelnemende begroting is ses munisipaliteite in die Wes-Kaap Provinsie te ontleed ten einde toepaslike lesse vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks te identifiseer. Verder is onderhoude en aanvullende vraelyste in die Breedevallei, Overstrant, George, Langeberg, Stellenbosch en Theewaterskloof gebruik om probleme wat betekenisvolle en doeltreffende openbare deelname in die formulering van begrotings in daardie munisipaliteite verhinder, te identifiseer. Hierbenewens is munisipale dokumente gebruik om ’n oorsig van die bestaande situasies in hierdie munisipaliteite te bekom.

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