n Journal of Public Administration - Public participation : a case study of ward commitees in the Buffalo City Municipality

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Public participation is an integral part of local democracy and local governance. Currently, public participation permeates all legislation impacting on local government in South Africa. It enhances individual and group esteem and enables municipal functionaries to understand crucial issues that serve as an impetus for policymaking. The issues are prioritised so that the available resources can be used efficiently and effectively to address community needs. Legislation has been introduced to promote community participation at the local level and the most significant structures in this regard are ward committees. This article reviews the ward governance system as it is currently operational in Buffalo City Municipality in East London and the resultant challenges that have to be addressed. The study has revealed that ward committees have not been effective. This has impacted negatively on service delivery in the City. By and large, residents are not aware of their rights and duties as citizens of the Municipality and community participation in municipal affairs are lacking. Residents have not been educated on when, why and how they should participate which has also impacted negatively on the process. As a result, they do not hold municipal functionaries accountable for their actions or inaction. Furthermore, ward committees are not functioning effectively as members do not receive the required information, capacity building and guidance from the council. Ward councillors are not co-operative and do not seem to have a good working relationship with committee members. Recommendations have been made that would hopefully improve the ward governance system in Buffalo City Municipality specifically and South Africa generally.

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