Community development and engagement with local governance in South Africa
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The issue of public participation is receiving increasing attention in South Africa, from both government and civil society sectors. We are witnessing acknowledgement from a wide range of public institutions that insufficient consideration has been paid to public participation, and that existing policy frameworks, institutional mechanisms and programme interventions are failing to comply with government's constitutional and statutory obligations in this regard. This article examines actual practice in one key 'invited space': the policy and legislative framework for public participation in municipal processes. The article also highlights community experiences of attempting to engage with municipalities in development planning and policy processes, and their aspirations and expectations in this regard. We conclude with a set of recommendations on how participatory development at the local level can be transformed to ensure that municipal planning and programme implementation processes are truly accessible, participatory and empowering for local communities.