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Making Popular Participation Real

African and International Experiences

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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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Case Studies from eThekwini Municipality

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Compiled and edited by Malcolm Wallis

Abstract: An important and well-received part of the conference programme was given over to four presentations by the student participants. Within the class four groups of between four and six students were delegated to prepare brief presentations, based on a short research exercise, to present at the conference. The presenters were chosen by the groups. The topics reported on were chosen be each class in brain storm sessions. All the topics relate to public participation within the municipality. An unusual feature of eThekwini is the fact that much of its geographical area is rural and peri-urban something reflected in the case studies. The first presentation was on Ward Committees in eThekwini Municipality, an important official mechanism for participation; the second was on Rural Local Government in KwaNyuswa; the third presentation addressed the high priority issue of human settlements and the fourth was on Local Government and Public Participation in the peri-urban areas of eThekwini Municipality. Summaries of each of these group presentations are given below.

Ward Committees (WCs are an important element of eThekwini’s governance framework because the idea is that they operate as channels linking communities via councillors to the council as a whole. The preparation of this article benefited from the fact that one of its members can be regarded as an expert on the topic because of the responsibility he has for the WCs throughout the municipality which, added to the experience of other members, gives the...

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