Public Administration is an eclectic discipline. This means that Public
Administration, over the years has developed as a discipline by borrowing
concepts and constructs from other fields of study. Thus, in the subject
of Public Administration the concept of social contract might appear to
be foreign. This article will argue that the social contract theory can be
utilised as one of the means from which effective public participation in
municipalities is achieved. In modern democratic states, public participation
proves to be an imperative tool that is utilised for effective governance that
results in the efficient delivery of services to the people. Therefore, public
participation serves as an important feature of democracy.
Since democratisation in South Africa in 1994, interventions were
made as an attempt to ensure inclusivity and participation by people
from across different communities in the country. This article aims at
evaluating the importance of public participation in local government.
Firstly the paper will begin by discussing the concept public participation
in the context of local government in South Africa. This discussion will
be preceded by the provision a suitable definition of public participation.
Through various local government legislation and policies the
communities in municipalities are warranted that their input will be
considered when decisions affecting them are to be made. The article
will further consider public participation as one of the tenets of local democracy. This will be done by a means of establishing a definition of the
concept and highlighting its importance in the discussion. Furthermore, the
relevance of public participation in the discipline of Public Administration
will be explored in detail and attempt to address pertinent questions
related to service delivery. This will be done by focussing on the different
approaches to public participation. The other aspect that will be highlighted
in this article is the existence of various forms of public participation.
Challenges associated to public participation are elaborated, in particular
the discussion focus on how these challenges affect the delivery of services.
Lastly, the significance of promoting effective public participation in a local
government environment and recommendations are elaborated.