Review Article

Strengthening participatory local governance for improved service delivery: The case of Khayelitsha

Kanyalitsoe Malemane, Danielle Nel-Sanders
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 9, No 1 | a500 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v9i1.500 | © 2021 Kanyalitsoe Malemane, Danielle Nel-Sanders | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2020 | Published: 23 August 2021

About the author(s)

Kanyalitsoe Malemane, School of Public Management, Governance and Public Policy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Danielle Nel-Sanders, School of Public Management, Governance and Public Policy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The need for participatory local governance is urgent, especially in the developing countries of the Global South, where local citizens have been disenfranchised for many years. The common practice in developing countries is that public policies, programmes and projects are designed by public officials and external ‘experts’ on behalf of local communities. Externally designed public interventions may fail to meet the needs of communities.

Aim: This article seeks to explore the mechanisms to strengthen participatory local governance for improved service delivery in South Africa. Specifically the article examines the mechanisms that could be put in place to enhance participatory local governance for improved service delivery in Khayelitsha.

Methods: The article is based on a qualitative case study conducted in Khayelitsha, an informal settlement in Cape Town. A combination of primary data collection instruments and secondary data collection instruments to gather qualitative data was employed.

Results: Participatory local governance enhances the support and ownership of public interventions by local communities. Without community participation in local governance, public policies, programmes and projects are bound to fail due to lack of local support and ownership. In instances where local communities or their representatives are excluded from decision-making processes, a structural vacuum is created. Often the community were not consulted for their input, hence the failure of many public interventions.

Conclusion: A number of mechanisms can help promote and strengthen public participation in local governance, including: the creation of an enabling environment for citizen participation; building strong social capital; promoting collaborative engagements; increase capacity in the local community; holding regular public meetings and building strong ward committees.


Keywords

service delivery; local governance; public participation; participatory local governance; civil society organisations; collaborative engagement.

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