Community participation currently forms an important element of the South African government's policy on integrated development planning in local government. Community participation and stakeholder negotiation involve a process of comprehensive engagement, as divergent opinions, needs and expectations normally exist. It is therefore important to correctly identify legitimate stakeholders, to know the different types of partnerships that form stakeholder units within municipalities, and where final decision-making responsibility and accountability are located in local government affairs. This paper reflects on the need for a culture of community participation and most importantly, stakeholder negotiation to be established and institutionalized to the extent that it will be viewed not as an event but rather a continuous process in local government. This approach defines a new era for public management in South African local government.