Integrated development planning and public participation : the case study of Shakaskraal - KwaDukuza Local Municipality.
Integrated development planning was introduced as a developmental planning tool in South Africa after 1994 to address the imbalances that were created during the Apartheid era. The intention was that all municipalities will produce and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) which will serve as the overarching development plan for the municipality. The IDP process plan would guide the development of the municipality and help to align its resources in order to achieve the goal of sustainable development. The plan was to be inclusive and based upon the engagement of communities at municipal level. Part of this process was to enable residents to drive the development process at local government level. Whilst the intentions of the plan were noble, municipalities across the country have been struggling to attain the objectives of the plan due to a range of reasons some of which include scarce resources at municipal level and lack of institutional capacity. The purpose of this study has been to focus in on the Integrated Development Plan prepared for the Local Municipality of KwaDukuza which is located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The research has specifically focused on the area of Shakaskraal because it represented a microcosm of the challenges and short comings of the IDP process at “community level”. The research explores and evaluates whether or not the IDP participatory process has managed to succeed in engaging the community of this area and ultimately encapsulated their concerns into the plan. The core of the evaluation lies in the assessment of the public participation processes of the municipality. By conducting this evaluation by means of questionnaires and in-depth interviews, it has been found that the community of Shakaskraal was not adequately informed of the IDP process, hence participation in the process has been minimal by the community. As a result, the community needs of the people of Shakaskraal have not been addressed in the IDP. Development has taken place since the introduction of IDPs in 2000 however, the development encapsulated in the three generations of IDPs prepared by the municipality is not that initiated by the community. In order for there to be overarching development in an area, residents need to be aware of the process of development. They need to understand how they fit into the process of integrated development planning and equally they need to actively participate in the development of the plan. The end result needs to be that communities own the IDP of their municipal area. They can only achieve this goal and add value to the IDP process if they are actual participants in the process. A plan would then emerge that would use their assets and provide strategies to enhance their livelihoods which will ultimately lead to sustainable development. The recommendation emerging from this research is that the KwaDukuza Local Municipality needs to find and devise innovative methods of public participation which do not rely solely on Ward Committees and Ward Councillors. Members of the community must be able to access local government from their most convenient point of access and through methods that are accessible and affordable. Only then will the desired environment of institutional accountability and transparency encapsulated in the principle of developmental local government and the objectives of the IDP be attainable.
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