Revitalising the “good” in good local governance : calling for active participatory citizenship

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    Good governance is a principle and a practice much sought after in the contemporary world, but most countries, including South Africa, struggle to meet the ideals of (the) “good” in “good governance”, despite the fact that the relevant principles have been institutionalised in policy frameworks, and despite the scrutiny of “compliance watchdogs” to safeguard compliance. This article explores the roles that active citizenship and citizen participation should play in holding the State accountable and in instilling a “culture of good governance” in the sphere of local government. Government processes created to ensure good local governance should allow citizen participation spaces through which citizens can experience a sense that they can influence, direct, control and own their own development. Active citizenship, citizen participation and protest action are fundamental instruments to hold local government accountable and to ensure good governance in order to enable social transformation. The article is based on a literature survey, previous research and participatory observation by both authors, as well as the outcomes of participatory workshops with municipal officials during the facilitation of programmes on citizen participation and good governance. Good governance as a concept and universal norm is unpacked, and active citizen participation as a key governance tool is explored. The article makes recommendations on improving good local governance through active citizenship.