n Journal of Public Administration - Engagement of the Lephalale Local Municipality and its community on water services : a preliminary analysis




The apartheid government of prior 1994 prioritised community needs and service provision on a racial basis. The subsequent post-1994 regime has made attempts to introduce new policies and laws which geared towards correcting the legacy of apartheid system. In particular, sections 26 and 27 of the South African Constitution, 1996 introduced changes and improvements which emphasises on "the rights of citizens to basic services such as health care, food, social security, housing, education, water, sanitation and information in an equitable manner". Accordingly, municipalities are required to work closely with the local communities, in order to identify the community needs and the current state of resources and infrastructure. In complying with this legislative mandate, Lephalale Local Municipality as a Water Service Authority has developed a Water Services Development Plan (WSDP) which was adopted by the Council in 2009. The purpose for the development of this WSDP is to guide all the planning and implementation of water services within the municipal area. This means that issues, objectives and projects developed during the IDP process formed part of the WSDP. According to Integrated Development Plan (IDP), 2013 - 2016, Lephalale Local Municipality has a duty to provide water to its population estimated at 115 746 living within urban, peri-urban and rural areas of jurisdiction and also as Water Service Authority has a duty to all customers and potential customers within its area of jurisdiction to progressively ensure efficient, affordable, economic and sustainable access to water in terms of section 11 of the Water Services Act 108 of 1997. The IDP process also provides a platform for the citizens to engage regarding services rendered to them including water services. The question that this paper raises is whether those IDP processes for community engagement are effective and that participation of the citizens is achieved. In order to address this question, the paper maintains a conceptual analysis of the Lephalale Local Municipality engagement processes. Further, several of the municipal official documents are analysed to understand the conception and practice of how engagement is viewed. This methodological approach is undertaken as an attempt to understand the methods of engagement between Lephalale Local Municipality and its local community. The paper finally argues that since municipalities have a responsibility to promote social and economic development for its people, evidence of effective and continuous engagement activities with its local communities should be accounted for.


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