The impact of e–government on enhanced community participation at Emfuleni local municipality
Sefuli, Dimakatso Innocentia
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E-government is the advanced form of digitalized government that provides services at a faster rate; offers the public with internet tools to communicate with their representatives; develop a dialogue between the government and the governed promoting the notion of citizen participation; and assists in combating maladministration through transparent of procedures. Community participation (also known as citizen participation and public participation), can be defined as a process that involves the community members in the affairs of governance. The community members through their involvement in the local government affairs may assist the local representatives to provide development in their areas of jurisdiction. E-government has enabled reforms in the affairs of governance. The government is now available online and the community members are able to receive activities updated information regarding the latest policies and programmes of government. The study hypothesized that “effective implementation of e-government processes may enhance community participation for improved service delivery at Emfuleni Local Municipality”. There are various devices to utilize e-government processes; however the focus on citizen participation on e-Government matters is not being implemented in ELM. Internet is the most significant tool to utilize the processes of e-government. Due to inadequate technological infrastructure, the internet is not being utilized to its maximum. There are telecommunication restrictions issues regarding the digital divide and financial constraints which hamper the community members from being able to purchase a computer and enjoy internet facilities. The study utilized the qualitative and quantitative approaches to conduct the study. Responses were obtained through questionnaires and interviews that were analysed and interpreted to obtain insight regarding the implementation level of e-government and its significance in enhancing community participation at ELM. The findings revealed that there is a dire need of training sessions for both municipal employees and community members to understand the significance and processes of e-governance. Facilitation sessions need to be organized in local languages in order for community members to understand the methods of digital participation. Call Centres need to be established with computer and internet facilities for community members to participate in the affairs of e-governance available at the ELM. The study recommends to further explore the possibility of implementing e-governance initiatives in other municipalities. The existing research can be considered as an ‘applied’ research that can enhance e-community participation in other municipalities based on the availability of resources. Areas that can be explored in future includes “e-communication for improved service delivery”, “e-democracy for good local governance”, and “digital communication for improved municipal-community interface”.