The role of ward committees in enhancing participatory local governance : a case study of KwaMaphumulo Municipality.
Sibiya, Bongani Christopher.
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To strengthen democracy, the South African government established the ward committee system in accordance with Sections 72-78 of the Municipal Structures Act, 1998. The objective was to improve service delivery by bridging the gap between the respective communities and the municipal structures. Ward committees should be able to enhance participatory government. Public participation is essentially a process that engages communities from the planning to the implementation and the evaluation phases of a particular activity or a project. The ward committee structure should focus on increasing the involvement of the municipal communities when decisions are made within the local government sphere. The primary objective of this research was to establish the role of ward committees in enhancing local governance, with particular reference to Maphumulo Municipality. The objectives of the study were to provide an overview of the new mandate for future ward committees and trends in local governance affairs; review the roles of ward committees and transformation processes with particular reference to Maphumulo Municipality; and evaluate the concept of ward committees in the context of participatory developmental local government and the mandate enshrined in the Constitution. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches to understand the scope and nature under which ward committees operate to enhance local governance. The research has established that there are still important aspects regarding the roles of ward committees and community participation on which Maphumulo Municipality has still to improve. The municipality structures, particularly the Public Participation Unit, should work closely with the ward committees so that they will be able to drive community initiatives.