Democracy as development: contextualising public participation in South Africa

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INTRODUCTION . ?Four aspects are addressed in this paper:Theoretical understanding of public participation An analysis of postcolonial literature on the practice of public participation ?Post-colonialism - an understanding of Africa's contribution to today's problems of development in the prese

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Democracy as development: contextualising public participation in South Africa

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1. Democracy as development: contextualising public participation in South Africa Sibonginkosi Mazibuko (PhD) Department of Development Studies University of South Africa Pretoria Public Participation Conference (PPP Indaba). The People Shall Govern: Public Participation Beyond Slogans. Conference Hosted by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Gauteng, Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, Johannesburg. 29 February – 2 March 2012.

2. INTRODUCTION ?Four aspects are addressed in this paper: Theoretical understanding of public participation An analysis of postcolonial literature on the practice of public participation ?Post-colonialism - an understanding of Africa’s contribution to today’s problems of development in the presence of colonial institutions (Blake 2009) ? Civil involvement is shaped by the ideology of the State South Africa - conceptualisation of public participation, the manner it is practiced, and its successes and short-comings The final part discusses possible options that are open to South Africa. 2

3. UNDERSTANDING PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND CIVIL SOCIETY Public participation - political space that individuals and groups should seize to promote democracy, accountability and good governance Civil society as individuals and interest groups to guarantee democratic processes, influence policy decisions, and guard against violations of rights of individuals Habermas’ (2011) of ‘a network for communicating information and points of view to form public opinions in an open permeable and shifting horizons’ Public participation in individual voting of political leadership as well as organised forms Civil society as organisations of different sizes, shapes and interests and ad hoc organisations 3

4. Public participation and civil society – cont. A democracy allows people to participate in the affairs of the State – development in practice State assists in forming civil society organisations - cooptation, legitimating, representation or transformation Civil society movement to be born outside State machinery e.gindependent labour, student, community-based, business, the media and other interest parties The role of media and the social media in particular present individuals with opportunities to make themselves heard Reasonable levels of literacy and access to technology have become important for the practice of democracy Delinquent conduct (youth) and ‘born again’ Christian movements 4

5. THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION Empower individuals and the collective - improve political, economic, cultural and moral conditions of the citizens Periodic elections, protests, petitions, lobbying Non-delivery on promises - new forms of inequality – use of comradeship, corruption, uninformed voters and patronage to remain in power Tamed labour movement and depoliticised rural populace Elections only to access foreign funding - non-attendance of local meetings Political paranoia - colonial tactics of promises, economic exploitation and political suppression Political gatherings characterised by alcoholic beverages and music – picnics 5

6. SOUTH AFRICA Participation & civil society rooted in our colonial struggles: relatively vibrant Upholding the principles of freedoms of speech, press and association Forums such as izimbizo to ensure the population is aware and contributes to democratic governance State President and the social media Government not very receptive to criticism from those it views as its opponents (Gumede, 2009 and Ramphele, 2008) Civil society undermines the core values of democracy – destruction of property - not always promoting public good (Camay and Gordon, 2002) Large rural population not very visible within the civil society movement 6

7. OPTIONS FOR SOUTH AFRICA Bring in grass root organisations such as stockvels – burial societies and rotating savings clubs Habermas’ (2011:62) view of public sphere as taverns, streets, coffee houses, theatre performances, rock concerts, abstract public sphere – viewers and listeners of the mass media A postcolonial State to protect citizens against religious predators Education so it can stand up against vicissitudes of public rot for the corrupt element product of its own society Alter property relations particularly in our rural areas Civil society movement not to dependent on the State financial resources - cannot challenge State hegemony so with foreign funding. 7

8. CONCLUSION Inclusive independent civil society means uncensored public participation beyond elections Major duties of guarding against corruption, misuse of power, good governance Specific options for South Africa To what extent can a post-colonial State deviate from the inherited colonial structures and institutions? 8

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