Assessing the effectiveness of public participation in improving the local community development prospects in Ndwedwe Local Municipality.
Evidence suggests that public participation is among the most crucial factors in fostering both equitable and sustainable local economic development in the local government sphere. Public participation and its various mechanisms are a process of seeking and enhancing the engagement of those individuals and stakeholders potentially affected by or invested in a decision-making. Previous research has established that, in local government, the main purpose of public participation is to enhance transparency, encourage openness in government and build ownership of development decisions as well as programs and projects. Moreover, studies on local economic development in South Africa have shown the importance of public participation in enhancing and fostering local social and economic development. However, previous published have failed to expose how the implementation of certain public participation mechanism may have improved the livelihoods of local communities. This research examines the role of public participation mechanism in the context of local community development. Drawing on the case study of Ndwedwe Municipality, this study sought to assess the public participation mechanism and system implemented by the Ndwedwe municipality. It specifically evaluates the extent to which the current public participation mechanism and system are successful in fostering both economic and social development in Ndwedwe municipality. Data for this study were collected using semi-structured interviews. Ten (n=10) purposively sampled individuals were selected for the interviews. Data were presented and analysed using the thematic analysis approach. Findings show that the community is not fully involved in the issues that concerns them as development of their communities. This also means that there is limited public participation thereby making it less effective. It is highly recommended that the communication practices should be closely examined and appropriately adjusted to include different stakeholders. This means that there will be an introduction of new policies that emphasise the inclusion of all stakeholders previously excluded from decision-making.
Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.