South Africa has one of the progressive constitutions in the world (Buccus et. al, 2007). It includes the municipal legislative framework that provides for community participation in decision-making at municipal level. However, findings suggest in contrary practice, that citizens have had little experience of benefitting the fruits of this constitutionthis, which is partly due to particularly relevant in contexts of severe poverty but mainly due to and failure by the state to provide basic services.
This case study demonstrates the challenges faced by the Centre for Public Participation (CPP), a national NGO, when working to influence central government policy on citizen participation. It is also explores the role and influence of international donors in promoting this agenda. Historically, South Africa’s housing process is characterised by the previously disadvantage being deprived of housing and property rights which led community protests to rental and service boycotts by communities thus challenging the legitimacy of the government of the time. (Khan & Ambert, 2003: 4).
The current housing policy is rooted in the pre- 1994 era as the policy was framed “in the course of National Housing Forum negotiations to address what (some influential) stakeholders saw as the threat of ‘uncontrolled’ urbanisation and the ‘perilous politicization’ of housing question” (Khan & Ambert, 2003:4). The emphasis on housing delivery is compounded by the fact that the country’s housing shortage, according to the National Housing Department, was at 2, 2 million in 1997. Due to an ever-increasing population, this figure is estimated to increase by 204000 every year (NHC, 2000b).
The housing shortage is the result of the apartheid regime which allocated the provision of housing along racial and class lines. This resulted in a large proportion of South Africans living in informal settlements or receiving inadequate housing, exacerbated by unhealthy living conditions. Many of the problems created by this system still persist today. To address the above mentioned problems, Developmental Local Government is mandated to provide the “Creation of liveable integrated cities, towns and rural areas” (Housing Act, 1997 a).
As housing is a fundamental right of every citizen, it is government’s responsibility to take reasonable measures to progressively realise this right (NHC, 2000b). Because of the recognised housing crisis, the Development Facilitation Act 67 of 1995 was formulated to introduce the measures and procedures to be used to speed up the implementation of development programmes relating to land and thus housing delivery. The provision of housing is a developmental practice and development cannot prevail without public participation (Roodt, 2001:466).
As echoed in the Manila Declaration on People’s Participation and Sustainable Development, which took place in 1989 as such “Public participation is an essential part of human growth that is the development of self-confidence, pride, initiative, responsibility, cooperation, without such development within the people themselves, all efforts to alleviate their poverty are will be immensely more difficult, if not impossible”. “This process, whereby people learn to take charge of their own lives and solve their own problems, is the essence of development” (Burkey, 1993: 56).
Apart from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 the Housing Act, (1997) is the cornerstone of any public housing initiative with regard to legislative requirements. Housing initiatives cannot be considered successful if not executed in compliance with the Housing Act 1997. With public participation, it needs to be realised that each development initiative takes place in a different context and for this reason the right combination of public participation strategies need to be used.
As Because each situation is different, “effective, [e]effective, efficient and equitable stakeholder engagement depends largely on selecting the right combination of approaches and techniques for a particular process. There is, however, no single recipe for making this selection – particularly when operating in the context of a multi-cultural, developing country” (DEAT, 2002: 14). For the purpose of this study, “stakeholder engagement” as used in the above-mentioned statement would be synonymous with “public participation”.
The Tyutyu Village Housing Project, which is located in the Buffalo City Municipality, is an initiative, which was started in 2000 with the aim to alleviate housing shortages in the area. Formerly, the area was made up of mud houses, constructed by the former Ciskei government. Later on, shacks were added in the area. Originally, these structures were meant to form an agricultural rural village settlement. Redressing the inherited inequalities of apartheid has established a complex and challenging context for meeting basic needs in contemporary South Africa.
Given the physical and political segregation of apartheid, meeting the demand for housing has been a central development challenge since 1994. But even as local government has been drawn into more responsibility in this area, it must do so while managing complex relationship with private-sector actors seeking access to basic service delivery previously associated with the public sector. The result is that not only has the structure of local government been dramatically reformed since 1994, it has also acquired a new responsibility to enable markets to work in the name of poverty alleviation.
The article is structured in broad sections, beginning with the background to the study of the practising housing policy and moving on to the methodology used in gathering primary data. The findings from the fieldwork are presented, along with a discussion, and the issues that arise from the study are recapitulated in the conclusion. 2. The Right to Adequate Housing: Thus adequate housing is the sum of a number of considerations, including: location, basic infrastructure, affordability, sustainability, right to tenure, and a range of household types.
BESG observed that very few houses completed in 1994 – 1999 compiled with the building regulations. BESG found that only 30 percent of houses built with the subsidy were 30 m2 or more. The easiest response to this criticism is to demand greater expenditure on housing. The ANC’s RDP (ANC 1994) proposed that national housing expenditure should reach 5 percent of the national budget within five years. This prescription remains an official government Development in Practice, Volume 14, Number 5, August 2004. From the beginning to qualify for consideration in either of the schemes, subsidy applicants had to conform to a number of criteria.
Applicants had to be South African residents, had to be married or cohabit habitually with another person, had to be legally competent to contract, and had to be able to acquire residential title to a residential property either in the form of ownership, leasehold, or dead of grant. 3. Traditional Authorities But if the poorest of the poor find themselves in traditional areas, they are also the furthest removed from the introduction of municipal government and access to services. The first challenge was to identify the traditional areas for the purposes of making boundary determinations for the municipal elections.
The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) was tasked with this responsibility and faced a difficult job over the course of 1999 and 2000. Some of the difficulties facing the MBD in this task included the fact that there is no complete record of all recognised traditional authority areas, not all traditional authorities are properly and legally defined, some traditional leaders argue that their area of jurisdiction extends beyond the proclaimed area, and some traditional authorities are made up of a number of non-contiguous parcels of land.
A second challenge was to define the role, if any, of traditional leaders in municipal government. Traditional leaders were dissatisfied with the demarcation process and said that it would erode their powers. Nkosi M. B Mzimela, Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, expressed his dissatisfaction with the demarcation process when he explained that ‘the demarcation process is the final step in a process that completely ignores the roles of traditional leadership’ (Mzimela 2001: 29). While the MDB maintains that it has Development in Practice, Volume 14, Number 5, August 2004.
This policy framework was the product of extensive negotiations prior to the 1994 elections, and it remains the central component of the government’s housing plan. In addition to subsidy provision, the housing programme offers security of domicile to South Africa’s poor in the hopes of building property markets and equity among the poor. Housing development is premised on an incremental approach, whether through self-building by the occupants themselves or in association with future access to credit or other developer-driven building schemes.
The majority of homes built through the capital subsidy have been developer driven, although the Department of Housing has recently recognised the importance of small-scale savings associations and self-building groups comprised primarily of women-headed households. Consistent with international experience in this regard, it was hoped that South Africa’s poor would be both beneficiaries as well as active participants in the building process. The result would be sustainable and active communities in place of the often fractured and disempowered settlements generated by apartheid policies.
But while the national government has been vocally supportive of this approach, its financial and administrative support in this regard has been relatively minimal. The scale of poverty (and recalcitrant lending from the formal mortgage sector) in South Africa has meant that the majority of homeless people or residents of informal settlements continue to lack the capacity to meet minimum basic needs. At the launch of the ANC’s housing policy, the minimum subsistence income was calculated to be R970 per month.
The example shows the monthly income distribution in South Africa in 1995. Rising unemployment and a growing income gap has exacerbated these inequalities. For example, the 2001 Census indicated a national unemployment rate of 33 per cent, with more than 40 per cent economically inactive (Statistic South Africa 2003: 51). Thus, in 1995, as the housing programme was being launched, nearly seven million households qualified for some form of housing assistance.
Against this background of relative poverty, the government set the goal of building one million homes in the first five years of government, with housing expenditure promised to rise to 5 percent of the national budget and a model of ‘people-driven’ development challenging the hold of the banks and private-sector developers. This absolute goal of building one million homes was met by 2000, although the backlog in housing (estimated at three million homes) continues to grow. In practice, both the policy and process have been more complex than this brief policy summary. But several general points of debate emerge.
First, the goal of one million houses proved elusive prior to the 1999 elections but remains an impressive achievement in quantitative terms. Second, housing expenditure has not reached its target; and third, developers rather than communities drive much of the housing process while the recalcitrance of the formal housing finance sector has frustrated ANC attempts to entice and leverage its participation. Fourth, the quality and location of the houses that have been constructed have been criticised as inadequate, and in some instances have been compared unfavourably to houses built under apartheid.
4. Conceptual and theoretical Contextual Issues In clearly understanding the concept of public participation it is important to cite several definitions that relates to this discussion. have been given to it by researchers. As defined by Greyling & Manyaka (1999: 1) public participation is a “process leading to a joint effort by stakeholders, technical specialists, the authorities and the proponent who work together to produce better decisions than if they had acted independently” (in DEAT, 2002: 6).
From this definition it can be realized that participation is seen as a decision-making process and aims to include the views of stakeholders at all levels of the process (Hoosen, undated: 2). However, according to Beinier, public participation is engaging openly and respectfully in “give and take” discussions with citizens and/or stakeholders about an impending decision or action (Bernier, 2005: 2) COPR on the other hand defines public participation as the process by which an organisation consults with interested or affected individuals, organisations, and government entities before making a decision.
Public participation is two-way communication and collaborative problem solving with the goal of achieving better and more acceptable decisions (COPR, 2008: 1). The primary objective of public participation is to demonstrate to the public that the right decisions are being made, on balance for the right reasons. This is because the role of public participation in South Africa cannot be undermined or overrides economic, personal, technological aspirations in the public sector as its past compels the government to correct injustices (Oakley, 1991: 6).
It is important to differentiate public participation from consultation. Looking first at consultation, it involves actively seeking the opinions of interested and affected groups. It is a two-way flow of information, which may occur at any stage of regulatory development, from problem identification to evaluation of existing regulation. It may be a one-stage process or, as it is increasingly the case, a continuing dialogue. Consultation is increasingly concerned with the objective of gathering information to facilitate the drafting of higher quality regulation.
On the other hand, participation is the active involvement of interest groups in the formulation of regulatory texts. Participation is usually meant to facilitate implementation and improve compliance, consensus, and political support. Governments are likely to offer stakeholders a role in regulatory development, implementation and/or enforcement in circumstances in which they wish to increase the sense of “ownership” of, or commitment to, the regulations beyond what is likely to be achieved via a purely consultative approach. However, there are instances where the two are inseparable.
For instance public participation usually involves notification (to publicise the matter to be consulted on), consultation (a two-way flow of information and opinion exchange) as well as participation (involving interest groups in the drafting of policy or legislation). 5. Public Participation Theories Despite theoretical disagreement about the proper definition of and practice of participation, professional literature reflects a consensus a variety of additional techniques can enhance the process and result in more effective and democratic plans.
The experience of limited participation during urban renewal and the debate surrounding “maximum feasible participation” in the 1950s and 1960s sparked an intense professional interest in the topic of public participation in planning (Arnstein, 1971: 2). One of the most influential theories on public participation is the one by Arnstein which she describes public participation as a ladder (Arnstein, 1971: 2). Arnstein, a former U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official, describes public participation as an eight-rung metaphorical ladder.
The rungs are organised into three levels: nonparticipation (manipulation and therapy), tokenism (informing, consultation, placation), and citizen power (partnership, delegated power, citizen control). Interlaced with her description are anecdotal stories describing both flawed participation and successful examples where power was delegated to community representatives. (Arnstein, 1971: 2). However, this theory has been criticised for the following grounds.
First, it offers little guidance for planners seeking to design processes that conform to the standards proposed. The citizen control section describes one approach as giving grants to grassroots organisations, but Arnstein concedes full neighbourhood self-government seems unlikely in the future. Aside from criticizing the usual methods used by formal planning to incorporate citizen input like public meetings and special committees, Arnstein has little to say about how these processes can be improved.
Also the theory has been criticised for providing little provision to those who might disagree that citizen control should be proper goal of citizen participation. Arnstein’s theory radically eliminates any role for the rational or technical expertise of planners, and assumes citizen power will result in good planning decisions (Goodspeed, 2008: 22). The other notable theory on public participation was the one which was put forward by American Planning Association (Jones, 1990: 12). The theory presents a wide variety of outreach methods, data-gathering methods, and participation methods.
The theory also provides confidence on the effect of public participation on planning, arguing it is needed not just for ethical reasons but to create better plans that are more likely to be implemented. The hypothesis of the theory was that “Doing things democratically takes more effort and more time, but it is worth it for the quality of product that emerges and the sense of commitment that people will have toward it. ” (Jones, 1990:12). The theory is underpinned by the four principles of deprofessionalisation, decentralization, demystification, and democratization (Jones, 1990: 12).
Although this theory did not get much criticism, its application was limited because already it puts more emphasis on data collection, a field which is better served through existing literature on research methodology and scientific data collection in general (Brod et al, 2003: 248). Creighton in his 2005 theory known as the ‘public participation benefits theory’ (Creighton, 2005: 9) defines participation as informing the public, listening to the public, engaging in problem solving, and developing agreements, within a framework where government officials retain decision-making authority.
He argues participation can have a number of benefits, like improved quality of decisions, minimizing cost and delay, consensus building, increased ease of implementation, avoiding worst-case confrontations, maintaining credibility and legitimacy, anticipating public concerns and attitudes, and developing civil society Creighton further proposes planning, and implementation planning, and provides a range of possible “tools” to reach and engage citizens. Pointing out more than one-third of U.
S. residents get their news online, Creighton notes the following: “This is a new enough area that I have little to offer in the way of advice on how to use these forms of communication more effectively. But it is worth your time to tune in to bulletin boards or list services that focus on topics related to your public participation programme and then consider how to use these media to reach audiences you cannot reach through conventional media (Creighton, 2005: 9).
Despite the diversity in Creighton’s theory and other approaches, some researchers have identified many common themes that exist between them (Brody et al, 2003:251). A study proposing clearer regulation of participation organises these theme into five areas. The ‘collaborative approach hypothesis’ is another theory on public participation worth mentioning. In the theory, Innes & Boother (Innes &Booher, 2004:419) urge us to abandon the existing model of participation for a collaborative approach that “should be understood as a multi-way set of interactions among citizens and other players who together produce outcomes.
” (Innes & Booher, 2004: 419). They argue the legally required methods of public participation, in particular public hearings and review and comment procedures “do not work”, and antagonize the public, pit citizens against each other, polarize issues, and discourage participation. Recognizing that “governance is no longer only about government but now involves action and power distributed widely in society,” they advocate a set of approaches that are “inclusive of stakeholders and that put dialogue at their core.
” (Innes & Booher, 2004: 420). The authors describe the differences between currently legally required participation methods and their proposed collaborative approaches as “one-way talk vs. dialogue; elite or self-selecting vs. diverse participants; reactive vs. involved at the outset; top-down education vs. mutually shared knowledge; one-shot activities vs. continuous engagement; and the use for routine activities vs. for controversial choices.
” While the authors acknowledge the two approaches can coexist, the practical obstacles for replacing the existing techniques with collaborative ones are significant, and their list include everything from open meetings laws, costs of collaborative efforts, and the “hubris of elected officials. ” (Innes & Booher, 2004: 422). Their theory suggests the next steps for advocates include “developing an alternative practice framework,” a daunting task that may not be possible given the significant expense and lack of specificity in their proposal (Innes & Booher, 2004: 422).
Besides the theories mentioned above, there are several others dealing with public participation. However, the theories above were selected because of their popularity and influence in the study of public participation. However, despite the professional consensus about “good” public participation, its practice ranges according to local preference, availability of funds, and the values of government officials. Despite the proliferation of theory, techniques, and evaluations, the legal requirements of participation remain the same in many communities. 6. Legal Context Legal Framework
There are four statutory instruments used to show the extent to which the state has tried to incorporate public participation within its legislative framework. The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) was adopted by parliament in 1999. It is intended to positively impact on budget transparency and participation, providing financial controls and improved accountability. Requirements include regular reporting and the assignment of accountability by national and provincial departments. The PFMA is an important instrument for public financial management in South Africa.
This act was one of the first pieces of legislation to demand monthly actual expenditure reports from departments to treasuries, and audited financial statements to the legislatures within seven months of the end of the fiscal year. It sought to bring state-owned enterprises under the transparent scrutiny and accountability not yet exercised by the legislature (South Africa, 2000:3). However, in recent interviews conducted by NALEDI, out of 77 people in Durban (KwaZulu-Natal), only two people indicated that they participates in the city’s budget processes (Thompson, 2009:3).
Most people reasoned that ward meetings to discuss budgetary issues are advertised on short notice. This means that the budget cycle of the municipality could not possibly be sufficiently engaged by the communities. The Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act 32 of 2000) contains sections dealing with local community participation in the development of Integrated Development Plans (South Africa, 2000). They guide the local municipalities on how to ensure community participation, specifying processes, timelines amongst others. While legislative provisions are progressive, the reality within many communities is different.
The other important piece of legislation is that of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) assented in 1998 aimed at securing stakeholder input on environmental issues. As far as its procedural environmental rights are concerned, NEMA is considered as one of the most modern and innovative environmental framework statutes in the world. Public Participation Platforms and Challenges In showing that sustainable development cannot do without public participation, there have been several efforts on the part of the South African government and the civil society to create platforms, which can enhance public participation at grassroots.
The most common civil society organisations are South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), South African Council of Churches (SACC) and the People’s Budget Coalition (PBC). Deepening progressive civil society participation, within a new democratic state, meant that many of the common economic and social policy positions held by coalition partners could be channelled through one voice (Thompson, 2009:1).
Against this backdrop, PBC was formed to enhance public participation and monitoring of the national budgetary process, to widen the parameters of debate on economic and social policy in South Africa, and to use the People’s Budget as a tool for mass mobilisation and action. To do this, the PBC aims to increase the effective use of the budget as an instrument for reconstruction and development, and specifically to ensure that the budget is planned and allocated in such a way that it meets the basic needs of the poor.
This is done so that it leads to the creation of decent jobs as well as ensuring the majority of people are assisted to get access to basic services and skills, and that it supports democratic and participatory governance. While the PBC is a high-level civil society initiative, it boasts of being rooted among active members of its respective organizations, who are in turn elected at grassroots level, thereby ensuring effective public participation. A challenge for the PBC is to ensure that its policy views reflect those of the many ordinary community members,
workers, church parishes, and community-based organisations that it represents. The school of thought proposed by scholars like Robert Chambers (1994:4) that development projects and programmes cannot be overly successful without the public participation of the intended beneficiaries, can be found in the examples of development projects that have not been very successful in a local context. An example of the PBC above situation is that of the Duncan Village in East London, where the Buffalo City Municipality is currently involved in a planning initiative aimed at housing the residents of Duncan Village.
Much debate exists over the appropriate methods to use in redeveloping this densely populated shack town. Planners are striving to meet the challenges associated with this kind of community redevelopment, such as, adequate housing, limited land availability, appropriate urban forms, and government requirements for housing subsidies. However, despite the thoughtfulness of development policies and an increased awareness of local circumstances in Duncan Village, the Buffalo City Municipality has still not been able to implement an effective system of participatory planning (Kay, 2006: 512).
As a result, housing and development strategies are still not effectively reaching community based organizations, families and individuals, and local residents are still not empowered to effect substantial change in the community. This is largely due to a strong desire by the local government to maintain a coherent master plan, a culture of civil resistance within Duncan Village, and an untested local political system.
In response to the challenges planners have encountered, when trying to implement redevelopment plans for the shanty towns of South Africa, anthropologist Stevens Robins cautions mentions that “although there are no clear and obvious answers to these questions, it is only through further fine-grained ethnographic research in specific sites that planners will get closer to understanding the micro-politics and improvisational strategies” of those who live in these shanty towns (Robins, 2002:1).
As the forced removals of Duncan Village were planned at the same time as the construction of the Mdantsane Township, the government was unable to remove the entire population of Duncan Village at once, because sufficient housing had not been constructed in the new township. In the meantime, African resistance to forced removals grew in intensity throughout the 1960s and 70s and eventually disrupted the government’s attempt to relocate residents to Mdantsane (Kay: 2006:511).
The same problem with implementing projects without proper and extensive public participation can be found in the Coega IDZ project, in just outside Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality Port Elizabeth, where at first glance, quite comprehensive and detailed public participation processes seem to have been conducted (Bond, 1999:1). However, this is doubtful if one considers the history of the project, which is vexed in controversy and public dispute that is threatening to all, but stall it (Burger & Bradshaw, 2002:2).
The proposed Coega development is popularly presented as of great importance necessity in the South African and Eastern Cape context, but at the same time may have far-reaching implications for the region, environment and community surrounding it. Since the idea was first raised, the proposed project evoked much conflict and controversy, because of the absence of consultation with communities, who would be, in any way, obviously affected by the project (Bond, 1999:3). It is not only the validity of the public participation processes, conducted in connection with the project, which was questioned.
Other processes questioned include the project’s economic viability, its socio-environmental impact and the public accountability of the concerned development agency (the Coega Development Corporation). Also important is the uncertainty surrounding the commitment of possible foreign investors tied to the IDZ through the arms procurement deal. All this controversy and public disputes disputing have cast serious doubts upon the public participation processes conducted in connection with this project, and it is the aim of this paper to try and find some answers for this state of affairs (Burger & Bradshaw, 2002:4).
Apart from the theoretical sources that will be used, there will, for the purposes of this paper, mainly use made of information gathered from a wide range of media articles as well as