Public engagement in Integrated Development Planning (IDP) in Cato Manor was examined during research by Ms Bongiwe Majola, who graduated with a Master’s degree in Development Studies.
The IDP is a strategic plan, reviewed every five years, that guides and informs all planning processes, activities, decision-making, budgeting and management in the eThekwini Municipality. The current development project consists of the construction of low-cost housing, schools, libraries, community halls, roads, and clinics in Cato Manor.
In the current setting, Majola notes that citizens are not given enough opportunities to influence or contribute to local government development plans. ‘In a case where they are involved in the processes, it is just to get their confirmation on development plan decisions and not to participate genuinely,’ she said. ‘The lack of public participation does not assist council officials to correctly prioritise and include the needs of the citizens. Consequently, there is no room for citizens to hold their respective local governments accountable, which has led to the citizens protesting against the municipality due to various reasons.’
Majola argues that IDP in Durban has fundamentally not been properly and efficiently used to accomplish its envisaged outcomes. ‘People at the grassroots level do not know how government structures function; this makes it difficult for them to have meaningful and effective means of participation, excluding them during vital decision-making processes,’ she said. ‘This has further adversely affected people’s views regarding the system of governance within the municipality. People view local governance as unresponsive, ineffective, lacking mechanisms of communication and lacking service delivery. Therefore, the essence of public participation is not met, invalidating the need for participation.’
She thanked her family, friends and supervisor Dr Shauna Mottiar for their support. ‘My family was very supportive and encouraging, especially my husband, Mabekwa, and my mother, Nikani Sibisi. I dedicate this degree to my late father Vusumuzi Zungu and my late grandmother MaNgcobo Sibisi.’