Enhancing participatory democracy through the ward committee system in Matlosana local municipality
Thabanchu, Osebelwang Rosy
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The Constitution of South Africa, 1996, requires local government to be democratic and accountable to local communities. Municipalities are also constitutionally bound to encourage the involvement of the communities in the affairs of local government. Section 152 of the Constitution of South Africa, 1996, sets out the rights of communities to be involved in the affairs of local government.Participation is not only about communicating information and addressing the needs of the community. Participation is also about building partnerships with the community, being accountable to the community, allowing the community to take part in policy decisions, capacitating the community to understand their rights and obligations as citizens, and allowing the community to participate actively in social, political and economic affairs. Local government as a sphere of government closest to the people plays a critical role in advancing the participation of the community. Chapter 4 of the Municipal Structures Act of 1998 requires that municipalities should establish ward committees in order to enhance participatory democracy. Ward committees were therefore established, as community structures, to play a role in advocating needs, aspirations, potentials and problems of the community. However, studies appear to be critical on the functionality of ward committees and argue that most ward committees are not functioning as intended. The purpose of the study is to establish whether Matlosana Local Municipality has created the environment for active participation through the ward committee system in order to enhance participatory democracy. The study further investigates whether the ward committees are functioning as intended and according to what the law requires. The researcher used a qualitative method to determine how Matlosana Local Municipality uses the ward committee system to enhance participatory democracy. The investigation revealed a number of challenges facing the ward committees which hinder their effectiveness. However, recommendations are recommended to assist the management of the municipality in making the system more effective.
- Humanities 
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