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Making Popular Participation Real

African and International Experiences


Edited By György Széll and Dasarath Chetty

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.

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Bridging the Gap Between the Ideas and Practice: Assessing the Effectiveness of Community-Based Participation Within the City of Cape Town


Zwelinzima Ndevu

Abstract: The view that community-based participation is an important component of efforts to enable the world’s poor to exert greater influence over government policy choices, structures and processes that affect their lives is well documented in the literature. The White Paper on Local Government mandates municipalities to involve communities in facilitating development and service provision within their municipal jurisdiction. The aim of this article is to determine the process of community-based participation in service provision within 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. The article argues that inclusive participation by the community-based must be a key principle in the democratisation process and in promoting good governance. The article concludes with a number of recommendations pertaining to inclusive participatory governance practice within the City of Cape Town.

Community-based participation is regarded as a cornerstone for deepening democracy in all spheres of government in South Africa namely national, provincial and local level. The current discourse and practice in government rests on the assumption that community-based participation is an essential component of efforts to facilitate meaningful change across the service delivery spectrum (Dill 2009). Furthermore, the National Development Plan (NDP) argues that “government cannot merely act on behalf of the community but it has to act with the people, together with other state entities and interested parties in provision of basic amenities or needs and...

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