n Journal of Public Administration - Marriage for development : ward committees as partners in participatory democracy

Volume 42, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Conceptualisation of local government in South Africa is placed on the cutting edge of addressing basic national challenges such as public participation in matters of service delivery, provision of basic needs, and in combating poverty. At the sphere of local government, it implies the means for legitimate service delivery participatory democracy, the mobilisation of the masses in decision-making to determine what is good for them in line with national objectives. Ward committees are designed to help achieve such developmental goals. As partners in participatory democracy, ward committees are a creation of legislation and obligated to be active partners in local government functioning in policy-making and implementation. In these, ward committees are representative structures of the community and citizenry and liaise with municipalities on aspirations, potentials and problems of the people. Ward committees form bridges by facilitating communication between council and the citizens they represent, and actively participating in determining core municipal processes. Without ward committees as partners, the systems of democratic governance and developmental local government cannot be said to be rooted among the people. This article examines the concept of participatory democracy as a precursor to mobilizing public participation for community development. Ward committees are seen as innovative catalysts for promoting democracy at grass-root level. The effectiveness, concerns and recommendations to make this democratic structure to be sustainable, are the foci of the discussion.

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