Creating a virtuous cycle for increased trust in local government
Taylor, J. Derek
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After the advent of the first free and fair elections in South Africa in 1994, access to municipal services became a right for all residents. Now, more than ever, the inclusion of previously disadvantaged communities is being intensified. However, the delivery of services often remains inadequate, eliciting increasing protests throughout the country. Protests, which are often the last resort by communities, are indicative of declining levels of trust in local government. It becomes problematic when trust in communication channels and public participation strategies is limited, co-production of services is impeded and the possibility of increasing such trust is, in turn, negatively affected. This study used a mixed-methods approach including both quantitative and qualitative research techniques to validate the posed research questions and authenticate the presented problem statement. The triangulation approach allowed for effectively engaging the strengths of both research methodologies. The findings of the study revealed that as a result of communities’ increasing lack of trust and confidence in local government, service delivery protests are increasing. The study further indicated that communities in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) are generally not well informed about the development plans of the municipality and do not adequately participate in local government activities. The study provides recommendations to augment trust in local government communication channels to improve public participation that could lead to the co-production of services. In this way, the study asserts that trust can be enhanced in what amounts to a virtuous cycle.
- TD: 2020 Volume 16