Title page for ETD etd-08282007-152556

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Mulaudzi, Mbulaheni
Email mbulahenim@socdev.gov.za
URN etd-08282007-152556
Document Title Service delivery and public participation: an exploratory case study of Atteridgeville Saulsville between 1995 and 2005
Degree M (Political Policy Studies)
Department Political Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Mr J C R Liebenberg
  • public pariticipation
  • local government
Date 2006-06-21
Availability restricted
This exploratory study focussed on service delivery and public participation in one selected case, namely Atteridgeville-Saulsville between the years 1995 and 2005. The study exploited a qualitative research approach where the primary and secondary literature used were backed up by six face-to-face interviews with actors involved in local government over the period investigated.

A theoretical framework on policy making known as the delivery mix or welfare mix mainly underpins this mini-dissertation. The question as to what extent local government over the selected time frame succeeded in attaining optimum levels of service delivery, underpinned by a democratic ethos and practice of public participation is addressed. In order to situate the research within the current context some references are made to the modus of service delivery and (the lack of) public participation pre-1995.

The study concluded that democratic changes that took place in South Africa since 1994 resulted in the readjustment of local governments as a third tier of government. Local government is the sphere responsible for delivery of services and is closer to local communities. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996 determines the following functions for local government:

(1) Provide democratic and accountable government for local communities;

(2) Ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner;

(3) Promote social and economic development;

(4) Encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in matters of local governance, in other words encourage public participation.

The constitution places local government at the centre of government delivery and representative system. The researcher exploited the issues mentioned above as a basis to research the complimentary aspects of public participation and service delivery within the relevant community. The democratisation process brought about changes in the expected role of local government structures as opposed to the apartheid era. The apartheid era local government was based on an elaborate set of urban controls, aimed at administering people, instead of promoting development through public participation in the policy-making and implementation processes. The new political dispensation outlines the role of local government and makes public participation and service delivery two important imperatives in the local political process.

The study also highlights the importance of co-operative governance amongst national, provincial and local government. The three spheres of government should support each other in ensuring better service delivery and an enhanced environment for citizens’ involvement in policy processes (people-centered governance). In the South African context local government is a logical point of co-ordination and necessary vehicle for the implementation of policies as provincial government decentralises some functions to local government.

In acknowledging this challenge posed by sub-optimum structures and participatory processes, The White Paper on Local Government calls on municipalities to provide resources to local organisations operating within the community as a means of support and building partnerships with organisations committed to service delivery improvement. Local government systems in the new dispensation are linked to a political economic context that calls for involvement of the market or business sector. Currently the market is seen as playing a central role in the delivery of services. Government has not yet sufficiently been able to deliver services to communities due to a lack of resources and administrative capacity. In cases such as Atteridgeville- Saulsville the developmental state approach requires government institutions such as local government to work with other organisations in the field for development and not to rely entirely on the state.

The establishment of a sound working relationship between the public-private sector can contribute positively to the delivery of services. However, government may subsidise private sector organisations. The inescapable priority remains to take services to the local communities in such a way that it adds value to service delivery and in turn ensure a better quality of life.

The study demonstrates that Atteridgeville-Saulsville Township was established with the required services such as water, electricity and sewerage though they were low- level services compared to services provided in the white residential areas. During the apartheid era, community members were not allowed to participate in the decision-making processes such as local planning, development and management of Atteridgeville-Saulsville Township. With the Convention of Democratic South Africa (Codesa) a new democratic era arrived. Local Government Negotiating Forum (LGNF) was established to negotiate the transition of local government. The negotiations on the future of local government in South Africa started at the end of the national negotiating process. The negotiation process took place in three phases: Pre-interim, Interim and Final. The first phase took place with the first democratic local government elections of 1995. The South African local government inherited huge service delivery challenges that range from provision of services within the communities to addressing the culture of non-payment of services as resistance to “top-down” policies. The foregoing impacted on the case study under scrutiny and subsequent local government developments.

The study concludes that the Tshwane Municipality still faces huge challenges with regard to service backlogs, optimum service delivery and public participation. Some suggestions are made towards future steps to be taken regarding service delivery and public participation in the designated area. Finally some pointers are provided for future research in this area.

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