Developing the Participatory Capacity of South African Citizens in Municipal Service Delivery through Social Innovation
South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 highlights that an active citizenry is fundamental to the country’s development trajectory. The assumption is that the environment in the country is characterised by social cohesiveness, but the reality is that the service delivery interface between South Africa’s municipalities and citizens is characterised by discontent and a lack of confidence. A sustainable solution is called for that can restore and strengthen this interface while protecting democracy, and this article argues that it can be done through the use of social innovation (SI) by developing the capacity of South African citizens to participate in municipal service delivery. Social innovation underpins processes (collaborations, networks, co-productions) that are undertaken by societal actors, for instance citizens, to find innovative solutions to address societal challenges. South African municipalities’ apparent failure to make adequate use of SI, and citizens’ failure to participate fully during each stage of the service delivery cycle appear to be shortcomings that hamper service delivery reform in the local government sphere. In part, these shortcomings are inherent in the selective participation of citizens in some service delivery stages, which is determined by municipalities. The article argues that the use of SI in service delivery is fundamental to enhancing citizens’ participatory capacity, which in turn could contribute towards strengthening the interface between citizens and municipalities and empowering citizens to influence the governance of municipal services.