Public participation in local government: a case study of ward committees in uMhlathuze Municipality.
Zulu, Kwandakwethu Kwanele.
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Apartheid prevented the participation of the majority of the population in South Africa in governance. In 1994, with the apartheid regime’s demise, South Africa entered into a democratic era. Ward committees were one of the structures that were introduced to enhance public participation at the local level of government. This study aimed to explore and understand the effectiveness of public participation through ward committees in local government in uMhlathuze Municipality. This study explored the challenges that ward committees experienced in effectively fulfilling their public participation duties, especially in policy-making and in the implementation of service delivery demands for their communities. This study aimed to unveil the views and insights of ward committees, community leaders and ward members on uMhlathuze municipality on the limitations that exist in the public participation procedures within their community. Using qualitative methods, the researcher gathered data through in-depth interviews with 22 participants drawn from ward committees, community members and municipal officials. This study used content and thematic analysis to analyse the data. The study in uMhlathuze Municipality indicated that ward committees are an essential structure which can improve public participation in local government. However, the study revealed that there are multiple disablements which contribute to the dysfunction of ward committees and a communication breakdown between the municipality and the community.