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The role of public participation in service delivery: a case of a selected township in the Cape Metropolitan Area, South Africa
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Public participation in governance and public service delivery is increasingly pursued in a bid to improve the performance of government. Improving delivery of public services continues to be a key objective that has occupied the agenda of public administrators and researchers alike. Despite various legislative prescriptions, which encourage local community participation in service delivery initiatives, there is prevalence of a top-down approach when municipalities bring services to communities. This occurs when municipalities follow their own developmental priorities for communities and they do this without the consultation of the concerned communities. The main purpose of this study was to explore the involvement of communities in determining the infrastructure services that are delivered to them by government. The study was done in Khayelitsha, a township situated in the Cape metropolitan area in the Western Cape province of South Africa. A qualitative and quantitative methodology was employed in the study. It is relevant to the study and assisted the researcher to gain insight into the Khayelitsha municipality and understand the challenges caused by not involving the community in service delivery. The main findings reveal that the role of the community is not clearly defined during the process of service delivery resulting in poor public participation. Poor communication with communities also contributes to this problem and there is no formal collaboration between the community and the municipality. Thus, the study contributes to the existing body of knowledge on public participation and service delivery, as well as democracy. Furthermore, the study concludes that for the successful delivery of services to communities, it is essential that government officials comply with the legal prescriptions that are enshrined in the relevant legislation. In addition, communities should begin to own service delivery initiatives and protect their facilities from vandalism.