A Rural Perspective on the Practice and Challenges of Community Participation in Post-Apartheid South Africa Insights from Rural Beaufort-west Municipality

Gregory Davids, T. Prince, Msuthukazi Makiva, Omololu Fagbadebo


Post-apartheid South African (SA) government devised legalized platforms for citizen participation to channel their voice towards public policy formulation, implementation, outcome, and its impact. Instead of using these platforms, dissatisfied communities with service delivery resort to social protests and unrest. Indeed, citizens’ voice and participation in government decision-making through social protests, is among the critical elements to democracy and good governance. The study sought to investigate the practice and challenges there are, with regards to community participation at the local level within selected rural communities, in South Africa. The study relied on qualitative research methodology to gather primary data. Extant literature was consulted to collect secondary data so that the phenomenon is greatly understood. The results showed that community participation is practiced as a once-off event instead of being viewed as a process that is comprised of interrelated activities. The study concludes that effective community participation requires continual engagement across the entire policy planning, decision making, and implementation stages. Furthermore, as each public policy phase has its challenges, flexible strategies are required to facilitate community engagement and participation. This, for instance, will increase the degree of decision-making consensus, while by default reduce the level of community dissatisfaction with service delivery, which currently South Africa experiences, through social unrest.

Keywords: Community participation, Service delivery, social unrest, Public engagement, Participation, local government, rural communities.

DOI: 10.7176/PPAR/11-3-06

Publication date: April 30th 2021

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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