n Journal of Public Administration - Public participation, matters of democracy and service delivery : a perspective from below

Volume 54 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767


In the context of South Africa, public participation is a critical and most essential tool that is used to foster good governance, accountability and transparency that inevitably leads to better and efficient service delivery. It is in this context, therefore, that a 'true' public participation becomes a cornerstone, and a significant pillar of democracy. Inclusivity and participation by the citizens became a major intervention in a post-apartheid South Africa, where all the people were afforded the opportunity to 'equally' participate, especially at the local level. The aim was to democratise local government, and to decentralise the decision-making processes.

This conceptual article argues that public participation is essential for democracy and is a pivotal process for effective service delivery. This article will firstly interrogate the notion of public participation in South Africa, primarily in the context of the local sphere of government. Additionally, public participation will be defined. Furthermore, various mechanisms of public participation in local government will be discussed. Lastly, this article will recommend that public administration should continuously be democratised, and that Local Government should intensify local structures such as the ward committees that are an integral part in promoting democracy at local government level.

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