A critical analysis of public participation in the integrated development plans (IDP) of selected municipalities in some provinces (Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape) in South Africa.
Njenga, Thembela Miranda.
MetadataShow full item record
The dawn of democracy in South Africa saw a commitment from the African National Congress (ANC) government to address the ills of apartheid through establishing policies that would transform local government (Republic of South Africa (RSA) 1998). The transformation of local government was seen as ensuring the inclusion of citizens, and particularly communities and groups, in society that were previously excluded in policy and decision-making processes of the country (RSA 1998). The Integrated Development Plan (IDP), which is the planning tool of local government (RSA 2000) was seen as one of the ways to ensure this inclusion. This study critically analyses how some municipalities promoted public participation in the IDP process. In so doing, it critically explores the understandings and conceptualisations of public participation by municipalities. It also analyses organisational structures and institutional mechanisms used by municipalities to promote public participation in the IDP process. The study explores the nature of public participation used through these mechanisms and in these structures. The study employed a qualitative research methodology, relying mainly on secondary written sources of data, which reported on public participation and IDP processes. These sources include journal articles, books, internet sources, government legislation, IDP documents of selected municipalities, research and theses. The focus of the study was on some provinces (Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape) in South Africa. The studies of municipalities explored in the Gauteng province are the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Emfuleni Local Municipality, Midvaal Local Municipality, Kungwini Municipality, West Rand District Municipality and Mogale City. In the Western Cape, the study analysed studies done in the Stellenbosch Municipality, City of Cape Town Municipality, Breede Valley Municipality and Boland Municipality. In the Eastern Cape, the study looked at studies done in Amathole District Municipality, Buffalo City District Municipality and Makana Municipality. In Kwa-Zulu Natal studies done in Msinga and Hisbicus Municipalities in the Ugu District Municipality, Ugu District Municipality, eThekwini Metro Municipality, and Sisonke Municipality were utilised. Limitations with the availability of information restricted this study to only these municipalities. To analyse the data, the study used qualitative and data analytical techniques. In particular, content analysis was used. One of the emerging conceptualisations of public participation by municipalities in this study is the commitment towards involving communities in the decision-making processes of municipalities. Another conceptualisation of public participation in the IDP process associates public participation with democracy and governance. Ward Committees were used by municipalities in this study as structures for public participation in the IDP process at local community level. These structures were faced with challenges that rendered them ineffective as structures of public participation. In this regard, Ward Committees in some municipalities were established late after the IDPs were already drafted. In others, they were either dysfunctional or by-passed as structures of participation. The IDP Representative Forums were used as the main structures for public participation in the IDP process. Like Ward Committees, these structures were faced with challenges, such as lack of decision-making powers by role-players, partial functioning of IDP Representative Forums and capacity problems for some role-players. These structures at times accentuated the socio-economic inequalities inherent in society. Municipalities in this study established mechanisms to facilitate public participation in the IDP process, such as public meetings/workshops, public hearings, Mayors‟ Listening Campaigns, road shows and ward-based meetings. While some of these mechanisms yielded benefits for communities, such as promoting access to government, some of these mechanisms were not accommodative of the marginalised groups of society, thus hindering participation of such groups in the IDP process. Municipalities in this study used low levels of participation, with limited power by citizens to influence decisions in the IDP process. Based on these findings, this study makes the following recommendations: Municipalities must clarify their conceptualisation of who the public is to help them identify appropriate mechanisms for public participation. Municipalities must find ways of mitigating the challenges inherent in Ward Committees to ensure that they better facilitate public participation in the IDP process. IDP Representative Forums must accommodate the less-organised groups of society. Municipalities must devise mechanisms for participation that are accommodative of all kinds of people and their realities. Lastly, municipal officials are advised to move away from low levels of participation such as consultation and tokenism, to higher levels of participation that will ensure that the public have a real say in decisions that affect their lives.