Charting the Mode for Community Participation in Service Delivery
Poor service delivery has always been considered a legacy of the apartheid era. However, 25 years into democracy, many local municipalities are still battling with service delivery backlogs. These backlogs are often attributed to, for example, dysfunctional ward committees, corruption amongst councillors, exclusion of community members in the planning process, failure to prioritise community needs, and institutional capacity issues. These challenges have undermined municipalities’ provision of quality service delivery and have precipitated service delivery protests. This article argues that community participation, which has been identified as a factor that can mitigate the aforementioned challenges, can be pivotal in the provision of effective and efficient services by municipalities. The relationship between community inclusion and service delivery outcomes is not simplistic, but depend upon a combination of proactive and highly skilled leaders and a cooperative and supportive populace. In this article, we identify the modes for successful participation and also the consequences of community exclusion through textual analysis of pertinent sources. We argue that such participation can only be successful and sustainable if it is reinforced by support from local government in the form of community training and capacity development workshops to exchange and instil new ideas as well as by resource allocation.