Democracy or efficiency : the impact of public participation on local government service delivery in Msunduzi Local Municipality and eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.
Nene, Sanele Ashel.
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Conventional thinking in participatory democracy theory contends that public participation improves the quality and effectiveness of government. Effective public participation promotes accountability, transparency, inclusivity and responsiveness in governance. The assumption is that the benefits of public participation are to be found in the efficiency of service delivery by municipalities. This dissertation investigates the idea that the benefits of public participation are outweighed by the cost to efficiency in service delivery. Public participation has negative effects on service delivery in local government due to the time and resources required for effective public participation. It is argued that the correlation between public participation and service delivery efficiency is also mainly theoretical, and not based on convincing empirical evidence. Service delivery efficiency in local government is influenced by other factors such as the ability of the municipal management and governance structures to resist party political interference through structural design, the capacity of the municipality to plan and deliver basic services within its jurisdiction, and the economic and financial resources available to the municipality. The dissertation concludes that there is a need to thoroughly investigate the impact of intergovernmental relations on local government service delivery, given the legislative positioning of municipalities in relation to other spheres of government. The functionality and efficiency of local municipalities is dependent on the relations between the local government and the district municipality, or the local government and the provincial government. The role of district municipalities is therefore questioned, and it is suggested that further research on the subject is imperative.