Public participation in local government in South Africa : a case study on decision making in street naming in KwaMashu township of the eThekwini Municipality.
This research is aimed at investigating public participation in street naming in the KwaMashu Township of the eThekwini municipality in South Africa. Public participation in policy decision-making in post-apartheid South Africa has been characterised by conflict and contestation. Authentic public participation in local governance has been the subject of considerable research and the concept is often regarded as an ideal because of the numerous challenges associated with the practical implementation of authentic public participation in post-apartheid South Africa. Decision making in local governance is meant to be grounded on public participation. However, the realisation of authentic public participation in decision-making in local governance remains a challenge for local government in South Africa. In this study, I examine the process of public participation in street naming in the KwaMashu Township. I employed public participation as my theoretical framework. I adopted a qualitative research methodology which comprises of semi-structured interviews and documents analysis. Four key questions are explored in the study are as follows: firstly, what is the contextualization and understanding of public participation in the eThekwini municipality? Secondly, what is the extent of public participation in street naming, in the KwaMashu Township of the eThekwini municipality? Thirdly, how does public participation in street naming in the KwaMashu Township, influence decision making within the eThekwini municipality? Fourthly, how does political party affiliation impact on public participation in KwaMashu Township? Results of the research study indicate that community members in the KwaMashu Township do not share common perceptions of the extent of their participation in the street naming process. The study further reveals that community participation in issues of local governance in KwaMashu, are influenced by political affiliation of community members. These findings indicate that public participation should be detached from party politics for the development of communities in South Africa.