In order to eradicate the legacy of the past, the South African democratic government adopted a developmental approach to local government. This necessitated a commitment on the part of local government, through the Integrated Development Plan (IDP), in facilitating community participation by finding sustainable ways of meeting their social, economic and material needs and improving their quality of life. A study of the role of community participation in the IDP process in the Govan Mbeki Municipality revealed that the community had participated in only the first of five phases of the IDP, i.e. needs identification. The study concluded that the municipality had not created an enabling environment for meaningful community participation, and had consequently limited the impact of community engagement on the IDP. Guidelines are proposed for community participation in all the phases of the IDP process.