Conceptual framework for subnational citizen-based participatory democracy and empowerment : case of Vhembe District Municipality

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • SDG 11
  • Abstract:

    The apartheid government had consciously entrenched a governance system in which local communities did not have a voice in their local development agenda. During the apartheid era, the national government held command of local authorities on all matters of developmental initiatives. This was the case with all areas inhabited by Blacks while those inhabited by Whites were allowed some degree of self-governance. Post–1994, as outlined in the 1998 White Paper on Local Government, the African National Congress government undertook to correct the apartheid governance discrepancies. As a result, Parliament enacted pieces of legislation and various regulatory frameworks to foster community participation in local development initiatives. Subsequent transformation has arguably registered some success in urban areas, amidst persistent failures in rural areas. Reasons for these variable spatial effects range from literacy issues among community members to capacity challenges of the elected municipal councils. This is exacerbated by persistent migration of the young and educated citizens to urban areas. This article assesses and, thereafter, formulates a subnational citizen-based participatory and empowerment model that allows for vulnerable communities to participate in their local development initiatives. Additionally, it derives a conceptual framework for assessing subnational citizen-based participatory and empowerment arrangements.