Responsiveness of Community Participation and Action Support Unit?s activities to local communities? needs: A case of eThekwini Municipality

21 Jan 2016

Community participation by departments in local government have neglected their constitutional responsibility of consulting and influencing participation of the local communities in municipal governance, which has made them (local communities) inactive. This study investigates the responsiveness of the Community Participation and Action Support (CP and AS) Unit employee activities in terms of meeting both municipal and local community needs and identifying their impediments to executing them. This study adopted a qualitative approach whereby in-depth interviews were conducted by the researcher with a sample of 23 CP and AS unit employees. The findings of the study were analysed using NVivo software (version 10). The study revealed contradictory findings in that the majority of the research participants reported their function as coordinating and managing municipal programmes, although they claimed that these programmes were malfunctioning. The study findings showed less activities performed relating to capacity development, communicating with stakeholders, partnership, monitoring and evaluation as well as the implementation of programmes. This, even though the latter programmes form the cornerstone of the existence of community participation departments in municipalities. Furthermore, challenges advanced by the research participants were lack of human resources capacity, excessive political interference and malfunctioning of programmes. Understanding the extent to which CP and AS activities respond to their stakeholders and their impediments to execute them can enhance public participation, acceptability, accountability, ownership by local communities and smooth implementation of the council programmes. This study will contribute to the body of knowledge as there is a scarcity of published data relating to functioning of the community participation departments in local government, as well as their responsiveness to local communities.