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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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Izimbizo as a Vehicle of Public Participation


Callistus Nkwanyana and Dasarath Chetty

Abstract: Imbizo is an unmediated form of public participation where ordinary people interact with government to voice out their concerns and compliments to the 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’s 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.

“It is not our role to speak to the people about our own views of the world, or to attempt to impose that view on them, but rather to dialogue with the people about their view and ours. We must realise that their view of the world manifested variously in their actions, reflect their situation in the world” (Freire, 2018). The tension between the governed and the governors is when in many cases people who are governed are not involved or even informed on issues and decisions that involve them. They are only recognised during the voting periods. The introduction of social media and other forms of communication have conscientized people as to their rights as citizens and what is expected of the governors. The tension therefore arises when...

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