The Msunduzi community participation policy : narrowing the participatory-democratic deficit.
Ngcobo, Cedrick Bhumusa.
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Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa one of the challenges that has remained elusive to policy-makers has been the issue of how to redistribute the same democratic advances made at national level to more ordinary citizens at grassroots level. The concern has been how to include voices of previously marginalized communities. The immediate policy plan at local government level is entitled “participatory governance” and has been adopted by the post-apartheid national government of the ANC to limit this participatory-democratic gap. The laws and policies that constitute the body of this policy are the White Paper on Local Government adopted in 1998 and the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 and the Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998. The Msunduzi municipality has formally adopted this policy and it is called “community participation policy”, which has yielded rather unsatisfactory results to date. Setting aside the issue of implementation for now, the present study explores the institutional design of this policy of participatory governance in Msunduzi by applying the design principles of the theory of “empowered participatory governance”. This theory attempts to understand how to build a deep democratic culture via government-community partnerships through the concept of citizens who are empowered to play such a role. The major finding of this thesis is that there are design flaws in these institutions in this municipality which require a reform of the policy itself. However, this may not be enough, as more empowered citizens are also required.