Making Popular Participation Real

African and International Experiences

by György Széll (Volume editor) Dasarath Chetty (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 278 Pages


The onset of democracy in South Africa provided South Africans with the opportunity to build a truly democratic, non-racial, non-sexist society in which there would be opportunity for all to make material, social and intellectual progress. This vision was enshrined in a Constitution intent on deepening democracy by treating people with dignity and ensuring that democratic participation was not restricted to a trip to the voting booth once every five years. To give democracy real meaning, the Constitution declared that municipalities, in particular, must facilitate public participation for true legitimacy in its development endeavours. Various mechanisms have been put in place to achieve this objective, but the process has not been without its impediments and difficulties. This book reviews the context, approaches and challenges to the public participation process using international comparisons.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Contents
  • Series Information
  • Introduction
  • Public Participation: A Conceptual Overview
  • Introduction
  • Towards a Definition
  • Arnstein’s Eight-Step Ladder of Participation
  • Why Public Participation?
  • Benefits of Public Participation
  • Risks and Challenges of Public Participation
  • The Communal Idea
  • Approaches to Public Participation
  • The Ways Forward
  • References
  • Popular Participation (PP) in Europe with Special Reference to Germany
  • Introduction
  • Europe
  • Germany
  • Legal Background
  • The Internal Functioning of the Communes
  • New Forms of Citizen Participation
  • The Citizens’ Jury
  • Planning Cells
  • Definition
  • The Process
  • Future Workshops
  • Conclusion
  • Endnotes
  • References
  • Leaving the Past at the Door: Espoused and Enacted Values in Public Participation
  • Introduction
  • Context
  • Espoused and Enacted Values
  • Methodology
  • Negotiation of Values
  • Critical Incidents
  • Discussion
  • Implications for Practice
  • References
  • Constitutions and the Transformation of Local Government: A Review of Three African States
  • Background
  • Introduction
  • Transformation and Local Government: Notes on Terminology
  • Starting Points
  • Pre-Transformation Histories: Leading up to the Starting Points
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • South Africa
  • Constitutions and Their Implications for Local Government
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • South Africa
  • Do Constitutions Transform?
  • References
  • Participation, Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility in Germany, Europe and on an International Level
  • Participation – A Short Definition
  • Participation and Governance
  • The Relationship between Governance and Participation
  • A Brief History of Corporate Governance and the Participation Debate – Its Impact on German, European and International Economies and Society
  • What Corporate Governance Means in Respect of Workers and Public Participation Rights?
  • Corporate Governance, Corporate Responsibility and Participation as Overlapping Debates and Realities Today
  • Definition of Good Governance
  • Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility – The Monterey-Consensus
  • How Is ISO 26000 Connected with Principles of Social Responsibility?
  • Some National Regulations and Specifics
  • Germany
  • France
  • Great Britain
  • Canada
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • Austria
  • United States of America
  • International Regulations
  • OECD
  • Finance Service Provider
  • Public Institutions
  • European Union
  • Social Area
  • Linguistic History and Concept History
  • Example of Ranking and Assessment
  • Summary
  • References
  • Bridging the Gap Between the Ideas and Practice: Assessing the Effectiveness of Community-Based Participation Within the City of Cape Town
  • Introduction
  • The Legal Context for Community-Based Participation
  • Literature Review: A Brief Exposition
  • Modes of Community-Based Participation in South Africa
  • A Case Study of the City of Cape Town
  • Sub-Councils
  • Sub-Council Meetings
  • How Do Sub-Councils Work?
  • Powers of the Sub-Councils
  • Sub-Council Manager
  • Sub-Council Chairperson
  • Councillors
  • Ward Forums
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Public Participation as a Weapon Against Corruption
  • Corruption in South Africa: A Brief Look
  • The South African National Integrity System
  • Public Participation and Its Relevance to Society and Democracy
  • The South African Experience: A Brief Exposition
  • Types and Forms of Public Participation
  • Building up Sustainable Public Participation Against Corruption
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • The War Room as a Platform for Public Participation: Views from Stakeholders
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Framing of Public Participation in Local Democratic Governance
  • The Notion of War Room as Public Participation Platform
  • Research Methods and Cato Manor as the Study Site
  • Findings and Analysis
  • Participants’ Perceptions of War Room
  • Stakeholders’ Role and Functioning of War Room
  • War Room Structure and Its Functioning
  • The Advantages and Roles of War Room
  • Entrenching the Participatory Culture
  • Convergence of Active Citizens and Effective State
  • Holding Government Accountable to Its Promises
  • Challenges Faced by War Room in Ward 24 and 29
  • Role Confusion
  • Political Interference, Domination and Power Wrestling
  • Under-Representation and Poor Attendance by Primary Stakeholders
  • Ingredients for an Effective War Room
  • Political and Communal Activism
  • Asset-Based Approach to War Room
  • Grounding War Room through Social Capital
  • War Room as a Learning Organisation
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Women’s Participation in Planning and Construction of Their Houses: A Case Study of the Piesang River People’s Housing Project at Inanda, Durban
  • Introduction
  • Theories and Approaches that Support the Participation of Women
  • Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation
  • Collaborative Planning Theory
  • Advocacy Planning Theory
  • Enhanced People’s Housing Process
  • Case study
  • Location and Geographical Features of Piesang River
  • The Background of the Housing Situation in Piesang River
  • Socio-Economic Status of Residents in Piesang River
  • Background of the Federation of the Urban Poor (FedUP)
  • Membership of FedUP
  • FedUP Upgrading Process and UTshani Fund Loans to the Piesang River Project
  • Methodology
  • Findings and Analysis
  • Levels of Women’s Participation
  • Mobilisation of Community Members
  • Community Enumeration
  • Saving Money
  • Participation during the Construction Process of the Houses
  • Skills and Knowledge Learnt by Women
  • Ethical Research Skills
  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Financial Management Skills
  • Innovative Thinking Skills
  • Challenges Encountered During Planning and Construction of Houses at Piesang River
  • Challenges Faced by Women During Their Project
  • Access to Land Ownership
  • Old Debt Affected the PHP
  • Poor Relationship between FedUP and Government
  • Low Membership in FedUP
  • Challenges for Women Noted by the Facilitator during Women’s Participation
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Physical Well-being of Women
  • Challenges Encountered by the eThekwini Municipal Project Manager
  • Strategies to Overcome the Challenges during the Project at Piesang River
  • Local and Regional Exchange Programmes
  • Income Generating Programmes
  • Government Intervention in the Piesang River PHP Project
  • Supporting Roles Played by uTshani Fund
  • Measuring Success of Participation of Women in the Project
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • A Peace Journalism Approach to Societal Violence with Reference to Service Delivery Protests in South Africa
  • Background
  • Introduction
  • Explaining and Theorizing Social Protests
  • Reporting Service Delivery Protests: Between Traditional Reportage and Peace Journalism
  • Mitigating Violent Service Delivery Protests through Peace Journalism
  • Peace/Conflict-Orientated vs. War/Violent-Oriented
  • Solution vs. Victory Oriented
  • Elite vs. People Oriented
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • From e-Government to Government 2.0 in South Africa
  • Introduction
  • Conceptual Foundations of Government 2.0 or e-Government 2.0
  • Background
  • Methodology
  • Literature Review
  • Transparency
  • Citizen Participation and Collaboration
  • The South African Context – e-Government and Government 2.0
  • The Potential for Government 2.0 in South Africa
  • National Government
  • Local Government
  • The Way Forward for Government 2.0 in South Africa
  • A Framework for Government 2.0
  • Building Inclusive e-Participation and e-Collaboration Initiatives
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Izimbizo as a Vehicle of Public Participation
  • Introduction
  • Izimbizo Legislative Mandates
  • Imbizo as the Voice of the Ordinary People
  • Significance of Imbizo
  • Challenges Facing Izimbizo
  • Feedback
  • Party Political Bias
  • Departments/Districts/Local Municipalities to Have a Dedicated Imbizo Section
  • Lack of Coordination Within the Different Departments
  • Mistrust Between Government and Communities
  • Unclear Goals or Objectives
  • What Is to be Done?
  • Leaders and Officials Must Live the Constitution
  • Imbizo Must Have Clear Objectives
  • Timeous Feedback
  • Giving Public Participation the Seriousness It Deserves
  • Proper Planning
  • Contradictions
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) at Ugu District: Towards Democratizing Participatory Spaces for Decentralized Service Delivery
  • Introduction
  • Theorizing and Democratising Democratic Participatory Spaces
  • Background of Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) and Ugu District Municipality
  • Methodology
  • Semi-Structured Interviews
  • Focus Group Discussion
  • Participatory Observation
  • Findings and Analysis
  • Participants’ Perceptions of OSS
  • Optimal Operation of OSS
  • War Room Meetings
  • Enough Coverage of Fieldworkers for All Wards
  • Service Delivery Campaigns
  • OSS as a Decentralised Service Delivery Model
  • What Is Service Delivery?
  • The Status of Service Delivery in South Africa
  • Enhancement of Public Participation through OSS
  • Challenges Faced by OSS
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • e-Citizenship: A Panacea for Citizen-Driven Services?
  • Introduction
  • The Mobile Is the Digital Provide
  • South Africa, the Country, Its Challenges and Digital Opportunities
  • Adoption Rate of Technology in South Africa
  • Uber
  • Please Call Me and the Missed Call
  • Avaaz
  • Social Media and Crime
  • The Power of Social Media
  • #WhenWillJustineLand
  • Instant Misinformation
  • #FeesMustFall
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Case Studies from eThekwini Municipality
  • Ward Committees in eThekwini
  • Z. Cele
  • Introduction
  • The Historical Context
  • Ward Committees in Ethekwini: The Regulatory Framework
  • The Performance of Ward Committees
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Rural Local Government in KwaNyuswa (also Known as QuineselaniManuswa)
  • T. Gasa
  • The Nkosi (Chief) Was also Interviewed
  • The Status of Human Settlements in the eThekwini Municipality, South Africa
  • G. Nzama
  • Introduction
  • The Concept of Human Settlements
  • Informal Settlements Upgrade
  • Houses Constructed 1994–2014
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Local Government and Public Participation in the Peri-Urban Areas of eThekwini Municipality
  • S. Mhlongo
  • Introduction
  • Peri-Urban Areas
  • Challenges
  • Conclusion
  • References


Edited by György Széll, Heinz Sünker, Anne Inga Hilsen and Francesco Garibaldo

Volume 37


This book presents the best contributions to the International Conference on Public Participation held in Durban in 2016. It contains theoretical and practical discourses on public participation, as a means towards enhancing the well-being of humanity, in an increasingly unequal world, by highlighting experiences in South Africa, the European Union, especially Germany, Lesotho, Kenya and other countries. The history, context, principles, approaches and challenges faced in implementing public participation programmes as a functional imperative for people centred development and good governance are all given attention in the following contributions.

Chapter 1, by Dasarath Chetty and Kwame Owusu-Ampomah, provides a conceptual overview of public participation, with particular reference to post-Apartheid South Africa. The meaning of public participation and the rationale for the phenomenon are discussed, followed by an outline of its perceived benefits and the risks and challenges it embodies. This is pursued by a discussion of the communal idea and approaches to public participation. The chapter concludes with suggestions on the way forward to deepen the institutionalisation of public participation for the common good of the South African citizenry. Dasarath Chetty is an Adjunct Professor in Management Sciences at DUT and Dr Kwame Owusu-Ampomah is an independent researcher.

Chapter 2, by György Széll, outlines the historical development of traditions of public participation in Germany which is based on the principle of subsidiarity, i.e. that everything should be decided at the lowest possible level. However, rates of participation at local level are much lower than at regional, national and European levels. Széll contends that there is now a crisis of democracy, as many right-extremist, even neo-fascist parties re-emerged, especially since the global financial crisis in 2007. In the Third World, Brazil with its participatory budget and the World Social Forum has contributed to the renaissance of PP. György Széll is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Osnabrueck.

Chapter 3, by Crispin Hemson, asserts that to understand the nature of the gap between espoused and enacted values we need to address the national context within which it arises. South Africa provides a contradiction between two realities: a democratic order founded on a clearly and consistently stated set of values that favour equality and democracy, and a history of violent repression and ←11 | 12→popular resistance issuing into a social structure still ravaged by very high levels of violence and inequality. Crispin Hemson is the Director of the International Centre of Non-Violence at DUT.

Chapter 4, by Malcolm Wallis, discusses the transformation in local government in Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa. In these states, the past twenty years have witnessed massive upheavals in which local governance has been dramatically affected. Drawing on work in the field, participant observation, analysis of key documents and evidence from secondary sources such as the media and research based publications; the status of local government in these three states is seen in the context of national constitutions. Malcolm Wallis is an Honorary Research Professor at DUT.

Chapter 5, by Volkmar Kreissig, argues that the discussions associated with “participation” have increasingly been linked with “corporate” or “good” governance and corporate social responsibility. He compares the German with other European and US models of corporate governance and concludes that British and American approaches exclude intensive direct participation, communication and information flows which are fundamental to the German approach. Volkmar Kreissig has been a Senior Professor at the Taita Taveta University in Kenya and Advisor to the German Academic Exchange Service.

Chapter 6, by Zwelinzama Ndevu, analyses the process of community-based participation in service provision in the City of Cape Town looking at policy, legislative framework conceptualisation and the actual implementation. The article relies on document analysis which is supported by a qualitative survey analysis. He concludes that the promise of an authentic and empowering community-based participation regime remains a “pipe dream” in the City of Cape Town in the absence of a commitment from the municipality to hold meaningful dialogues with the communities they seek to serve. Dr Ndevu is based at the School of Leadership at Stellenbosch University.

Chapter 7, by Evangelos Mantzaris, explores ways and case studies that point to the fact that public participation has and can empower and mobilise citizens to counter corruption in their communities. It shows ways through which communities can become active in participating as an agent of defence and attack against corruption an increasingly significant feature of the South African public and private sector landscape. Professor Mantzaris is based at the Anti-Corruption Centre for Education and Research at Stellenbosch University.

Chapter 8, by Ndwakhulu Tshishonga, notes that in South Africa, the War Room is linked to the ‘War on Poverty’ Campaign. Through the War Room various stakeholders assemble to deliberate on community needs and challenges besetting the poor and vulnerable people at the ward level and channel these ←12 | 13→needs via government and other structures. The author argues that the effective and efficient functioning of War Rooms demand collaborative partnerships from primary, secondary and tertiary stakeholders to have ownership especially in the decision making processes. The War Room is also meant for holding stakeholders especially the government departments accountable. Ndwakhulu Tshishonga is a Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Chapter 9, by Phumelele Khumalo and Ndwakhulu Tshishonga, notes that historically, women’s participation in South Africa has been fraught with exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation. Using qualitative research methods to identify the level of women’s engagement in planning and construction of their houses in the People’s Housing Process (PHP) project, findings revealed that the Urban Poor Fund (UPF) savings system, together with the government subsidy for housing, empowered women to participate in planning and construction of their houses at Piesang River and that through direct involvement in the planning process, women benefited from the transfer of skills – transferred from the facilitator to the community and from the community to the facilitator. Phumelele Khumalo is a Housing Project Manager at Zamokuhle Development Consultants.

Chapter 10, by Joseph Olusegun Adebayo and Dasarath Chetty, advocates the application of a Peace Journalism approach to coverage of service delivery protests so as to contribute to societal peace and harmony whilst not sacrificing accuracy. This article holds theoretical and practical significance in that it explicitly identifies conditions that encourage journalists to apply conflict-sensitivity to their reportage, thereby promoting societal peace, particularly during social protests. Joseph Olusegun Adebayo is based at the University of Cape Town.

Chapter 11, by Sudhika Palhad, Dynesan Reddy and Dasarath Chetty, presents an overview and assessment of the current uses of social media by government at national and local levels in South Africa. It is proposed that given the international and South African trends in social media and public participation, it is imperative that South African government, at all three levels, design a Government 2.0 framework that is equipped to capitalise on the new opportunities for public participation. Such an approach in the rapidly changing global landscape must not replace traditional modes of public participation but serve to augment it. Sudhika Palhad is a Research Intern at the Enterprise Development Unit and Dynesan Reddy is a marketing consultant.

Chapter 12, by Callistus Nkwanyana and Dasarath Chetty, describes imbizo as an unmediated form of public participation where ordinary people interact with government to voice out their concerns and compliments to the ←13 | 14→government. The concept imbizo dates back from centuries ago when the King convened an imbizo or gathering of people to discuss the issues affecting his subjects. Most of the issues raised during government izimbizo are service delivery related. This article seeks to give a clear understanding of izimbizo as a vehicle for public participation, the challenges and successes of izimbizo and how it can be improved so that it becomes an effective vehicle for public participation. The contradictions of democratic governance and traditional governance are also given attention. Callistus Nkwanyana is a Senior Manager in the Office of the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal.

Chapter 13, by Primrose Mlambo and Ndwakhulu Tshishonga, assesses the democratic spaces forged through the introduction and implementation of Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) at Ugu District Municipality. It further explores the impact of such spaces in democratising public participation for decentralized service delivery and eradicating poverty in poor communities. OSS is a service delivery model used to speed up delivery of services and as a way of declaring “War on Poverty” in poor communities. It is concluded that active citizens in partnership with an effective and a responsible state and private sector are imperative. The biggest challenges relate to the lack of participation especially from public servants, the councillors and traditional leadership. Primrose Mlambo is a Masters Candidate in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Chapter 14, by Surendra Thakur, Ndivhoniswani Aaron Tshidzumba and Richard Millham, looks at the new and emerging uses of technologies such as social media to solve citizen centric challenges. The study is ethnographic because it studies responses to two particular systems. It also surveys instances where citizens mobilized support towards self-help, and regulating online behaviour. The rising crime rate and perceived inaction is once again presenting society with a unifying force. Social media viewed positively is such an opportunity, which can relieve law enforcements of false alarms and petty crime, freeing resources for serious work. Dr Surendra Thakur is the Director of the Enterprise Development Unit at DUT, and Ndivhoniswani Tshidzumba is the former CEO of the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa.

Chapter 15, compiled by Malcolm Wallis, is composed of four parts presented by Ethekwini Municipal employees Z. Cele, T. Gasa, G. Nzama and S. Mhlongo respectively. The first is on Ward Committees in eThekwini Municipality, an important official mechanism for participation; the second is on Rural Local Government in KwaNyuswa; the third part addresses the high priority issue of human settlements and the fourth is on Local Government and Public Participation in the peri-urban areas of eThekwini Municipality.

This book would not have been possible without the vision of Durban’s (Ethekwini Municipality) City Manager Sbu Sithole and Deputy City Manager Sipho Cele who jointly mooted the idea of a Public Participation Training Programme for Municipal Employees and which resulted in a formal partnership with the Durban University of Technology. Consequently, a Higher Certificate in Public Administration specialising in Public Participation was developed at DUT, with the Conference being an outcome, resulting in a total of 363 Municipal employees graduating with the qualification since 2016. A third cohort of 200 Municipal employees enrolled in July 2018 for the one-year Certificate. The initiative and support provided by Professor Ahmed Bawa (former Vice-Chancellor of DUT), Professor Sibu Moyo (Deputy Vice Chancellor at DUT), Professor Rishi Balkaran (Dean of Management Sciences at DUT), Dr Surendra Thakur (Head of the Enterprise Development Unit at DUT), Moonsamy Pillay (Head of Public Management at DUT) and Sudhika Palhad (Enterprise Development Unit) is also to be commended. Editorial assistants Maleni Thakur and Sonali Chetty provided invaluable assistance in the compilation and for which the editors are extremely grateful.

Dasarath Chetty, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Durban University of Technology
South Africa

György Széll, PhD
Professor Emeritus
University of Osnabrueck


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (December)
Participative Democracy Municipalities International comparisons E-citizenship & government Corruption Values
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien. 2018. 278 pp. 11 b/w ill., 3 b/w tab.

Biographical notes

György Széll (Volume editor) Dasarath Chetty (Volume editor)

György Széll is Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of Osnabrück, Germany. He is a specialist in democratic participation with numerous world-wide activities, including being former president of ISA RC 10 (Participation, Organisational Democracy and Self-management). Dasarath Chetty is Adjunct Professor at Durban University of Technology, South Africa. He is former president of the South African Sociological Association and current president of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee 10.


Title: Making Popular Participation Real
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