Political culture and socialisation responses to integrated water resources management (IWRM) : the case of Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality
This study looks at political culture and socialisation responses to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). It identifies political culture and socialisation as part of a process, the development of a political culture with specific attitudes, cognitions, and feelings towards the political system. Political culture and socialisation impart the knowledge of how to act politically, i.e. how to apply values in formulating demands and making claims on the political system. They form a connecting link between micro- and macro-politics. The study maintains that political orientations are handed down from one generation to another, through the process of political socialisation. Top-down and bottom-up influences come into play to augment a discourse on the global nature of political socialisation and the political culture of international societies with regard to IWRM and governance ideologies. It is argued that these international ideas become relevant in the national political agenda, civil society organisations and trans-national networks. The IWRM aspects of water as an economic good and a basic human right have become a two-edged sword in the South African context. The study reveals that politics stand at the epicentre of water problems, and that IWRM is a political-ethical issue which challenges power bases in many communities. The IWRM global norms of equitable, efficient and sustainable use of water resources have become a major problem in a water-scarce country burdened with economic inequalities and abject poverty. This is a pressing issue because there is an increasing demand for water to sustain the development necessary to redress the draconian ills of the apartheid past. This becomes evident in the fundamental legislative overhaul that has taken place since 1994, embracing a transformation culture that glorifies the norm of water not only as a fundamental human right, but also as a commodity that is necessary to sustain human dignity. It is here that water is politicised. Violent protests have erupted in reaction to perceived neo-liberal attempts to deny the poor their access to this resource. The political culture and socialisation responses as far as IWRM is concerned appear within fragmented lines, i.e. mainly black and poor communities embrace a culture of non-payment for services and resort to violent protests as a viable method to raise their concerns. In contrast, the white and middle-class communities manifest a tendency to form parallel local government structures; they then withhold rate payments and provide services for themselves through ratepayer associations. Finally, the study considers the South African context with regard to the manifestations of political culture, and how this influences water resources. It is evident that there is too much emphasis on politics at the expense of discussions on IWRM. Civil society organisations make very little attempt to encourage public participation in water management structures. It also appears that political elites who are disillusioned with civil society organisations tend to derail their efforts to educate the public on water management structures.
- Humanities