Public participation strategy for budgeting in local government : the case of Tlokwe Local Municipality
Motale, Itumeleng John
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Before the historical democratic elections of 1994, South Africa did not have a culture of actively engaging communities in local government affairs. Democracy brought emphasis to transparency in municipal activities, and greater public accountability. It is legislated in South Africa that local governments should interact with communities in an endeavour to carry out the responsibilities of service delivery to ensure growth and development in a manner that promotes and enhances community participation and accountability. However, integrated municipal development planning, budgeting, local economic development projects, and various forms of municipal partnerships, are all issues which require effective community participation processes. Local government as a sphere government closest to the people is now expected to engage communities through exploring sustainable strategies as mechanisms which, within the context of this study, bring about effective public participation. In this regard, an effective, efficient, vibrant and innovative local government system that is accountable to local communities is of obvious importance. The local government has a key role to play in ensuring that people receive quality leadership and a sound and stable local democracy. Section 153 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996) spells out two important developmental duties of a municipality: * To structure and manage its administration and budget planning process so as to give priority to the basic needs of the community and to promote the environmental and socio-economic development of the community: and * To participate in national and provincial development programmes. The purpose of this study was to determine a variety of effective channels or mechanisms and processes for public participation in the integrated development planning (IDP) and budget process in the Tlokwe Local Municipality. It also focuses on the policy and legislative framework underpinning public participation in the IDP and budget processes. The study further considers that legislation requires that the IDP process of Tlokwe Municipality should structurally incorporate the voice of the community which will be affected by planning. The researcher used a qualitative method to determine how Tlokwe Local Municipality addresses the needs of the local community to enhance participatory democracy. The study established that there are a number of challenges facing the municipality which are barriers to effective participation. Several of these challenges relate to the poor and the marginalised groups which still have far too little influence in the affairs of the municipality.
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