Ward committee functionaries as participants for improving service delivery at Mafube Local Municipality
Mkhwanazi, John Sipho
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The concept public participation as the bedrock of participatory democracy has the advantages of empowering civil society in decision-making skills and in legitimizing execution of programmes and projects. The vehicle driving public participation is the system of Ward Committees. legislations such as White Paper on Local Government and the Constitution obligate municipalities to involve communities in facilitating development. Participation is an essential part of local democracy and is a statutory prerequisite for the local community to be drawn into decision-making through processes such as the integrated development planning. The task of Mafube Local Municipality is not only to provide services that encourage sustainable living standards but, to also guarantee that the Mafube community is involved in council strategies and activities that affect the lives of local community. The study was undertaken to determine the effectiveness of ward committees in becoming partners in the developmental role of Mafube Local Municipality. For the purpose of the study, hypothesis was formulated that ward committees are necessary mechanisms for facilitating service delivery and yet social and administrative challenges confront their efficient functioning at Mafube Local Municipality which needs to be resolved. To test the hypothesis, empirical research method of open ended questionnaires and interviews was used to test attitudes and perceptions of councillors, ward committees and the community of Mafube Local Municipality on the effectiveness of ward committees. Amongst other findings, it was found that: * Ward committees as community structures are well known by the community of Mafube. * Ward committees need an on-going training with regard to their roles and responsibilities so that they are empowered to execute their duties as is required of them. * The literacy level among certain ward committee members poses a challenge in enabling them to understand municipal programmes or projects. * Public participation is viewed as consultation because there is minimal participation of the community during the planning and decision making of the municipal programmes or projects. * Majority of community members do not attend ward or public meetings. * Elections of ward committees are sometimes not fair and transparent, depending on political affiliation. The study concludes with recommendations for consideration and implementation by Council of Mafube Local Municipality in enhancing service delivery.