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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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Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) at Ugu District: Towards Democratizing Participatory Spaces for Decentralized Service Delivery


Primrose Mlambo and Ndwakhulu Tshishonga

Abstract: This article 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 initiated by the former Premier of KwaZulu-Natal to speed up delivery of services and as a way of declaring ‘War on Poverty’ in poor communities. OSS is in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The primary beneficiaries for OSS are the vulnerable groups in poor communities, who are: the elderly, sick, disabled, women, children, youth, unskilled and illiterate, working poor and the jobless. In this article, the authors argue that OSS War Room Service Delivery Model can be instrumental in bridging the gap between a legislature frameworks and pragmatic implementation. The article found that active citizens in partnership with effective and responsible state and private sector are imperative. However, one of the biggest challenges is the lack of participation especially from public servants, the councillors and traditional leadership. The article used a qualitative research methodology which included individual interviews, semi-structured focus groups as well as participant observation to extract empirical data.

The demise of Apartheid in the early 1990s witnessed the new era in which policies were promulgated and programmes initiated with the primary purpose of democratizing the state. This transformative trajectory was premised on forging inclusive and participatory democracy...

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