Participation and accountability in integrated development planning : the case of eThekwini Municipality's small businesses related local economic development in the eThekwini Municipality.
Musyoka, Jason M.
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After decades of optimistic theories of development, increasing global poverty and inequities remain at troublingly high levels. By the close of the twentieth century the development enterprise was accused of having “…reached an impasse, trapped within its own meta-narratives and unable to capture the diversity of the third world in any relevant and constructive manner” (Abrahamsen, 2000: ix). Similar observations have been made by Binns and Nel, (1999), McMichael (1996), Rivero (2001) and Rihani (2002) among others. These observations raise fundamental suspicions on the traditional approaches to development. The emerging consensus tends to favor bottom up approaches to development, anticipating that these might be better equipped to address underdevelopment. Thus the concepts of democratization and decentralization feature centrally in the prevailing literature. Literature seems to suggest that these emergent discourses have absorbed assumptions and contradictions. This in turn has rendered these discourses potentially deficient of meaningful impact. The specific task of this dissertation is to investigate participation issues in integrated planning. This will be achieved through assessing small businesses related LED in eThekwini municipality. Integrated Development Planning is a process through which South African municipalities prepare a strategic development plan, for a five year period. The Integrated Development Plan (IDP) is a product of the integrated development planning process. The IDP is a principal strategic planning instrument which guides and informs all planning, budgeting, management and decision-making in a municipality. Since the IDP involves participation of a number of stakeholders, it is crucial for the municipality to adopt an appropriate approach and also put in place appropriate structures to ensure effective participation. Here are some principles on participation: · The elected council is the ultimate decision-making forum on IDPs. · The role of participatory democracy is to inform, negotiate and comment on those decisions, in the course of the planning/ decision-making process. · Public participation has to be institutionalised in order to ensure that all residents of the country have an equal right to participate.” (Republic of South Africa, undated). Cornwall (2006:63) has already expressed serious worries on the way participation has navigated the development industry. For its part, she argues, “…contemporary participation discourse represents a reflux of strikingly similar policies, sentiments and pronouncements from a barely-remembered colonial past. Alongside the significant continuities in discourse and practice that span the colonial and post-colonial eras, the genealogy of participation in development reveals discontinuities and dissonances, broken records and broken promises” Within Cornwall’s concerns, this research project sought to understand the degree in which tendencies of top down approaches might still thrive in South Africa’s Local Economic Development discourse in regards to small businesses, despite policy commitments to participatory planning and governance. The findings suggest an urgent need to revisit the conceptualization of participation mechanisms. They further suggest this would impact on the approach to LED programs, and in particular those relating to small business development.