Assessing the state of public participation and service delivery : the case of Maphumulo Municipality.
MetadataShow full item record
Public participation and consultation remains an integral tool used by the state to communicate and interact with citizens on the ground, especially about services and programmes to be provided to communities. The precepts of this concept are housed in the Constitution of South Africa (Act No 108 of 1996), as well as the Municipal Systems Act (No 32 of 2000) and Municipal Structures Act (No. 117 of 1998). In particular, Chapter Five of the Municipal Systems Act requires municipalities to approve Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) every 5 years and also explains how the municipality should conduct public participation as part of community consultation process of IDP approval. The study was undertaken following a number of violent public protests in the Maphumulo Local Municipality. Communities were complaining about a number of service delivery issues. The intention of this study was to explore the underlying reasons for these service delivery protests, by investigating the level of public participation and community consultation. The majority of grievances raised by communities during protests were not listed in the approved municipal IDP. Other grievances were related to duties of the District Municipality and Provincial and National government. These challenges raised by communities showed that public participation strategies are not working efficiently. It emerged during the study that, although service delivery backlog remains a challenge within the municipality, communication breakdown between citizens and government is the major underlying cause of service delivery protests. When relevant officials do not provide feedback to communities, citizens become disgruntled and voice their anger through violent public protests. The study adopted a qualitative approach and interviews were used as the primary tool to collect data. From these, it emerged that communication breakdown and poor public participation strategies used by the municipality are indeed the major causes of community dissatisfaction. After analysis, recommendations from the research findings were made. These include, amongst others, compiling a consolidated IDP plan for all three spheres of government in the Municipality and establishment of mobile offices by government departments to visit all wards. In addition, more regular community meetings and the quarterly use of a community survey would increase contact and input from communities. The study concluded by suggesting areas for further investigation which would assist in creating a more accurate picture of the problems leading to public dissatisfaction and protest, as well as sustainable solutions to these issues.