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PARI, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Integrity Action (IA) are jointly implementing a project titled “Supporting Public Participation and Planning in Local Government: Towards Local Government Service Delivery and Accountability”. The project is known as “COMPACT” – where “Com” refers to the Community and “Pact” to all the stakeholders involved with public participation. COMPACT is co-funded by the European Union (EU) for its duration, from February 2022 to January 2026. The project is implemented in 12 South African partner municipalities in 6 provinces:

Eastern Cape Blue Crane Route Local Municipality
Kouga Local Municipality
Free State Matjhabeng Local Municipality
Tswelopele Local Municipality
KwaZulu-Natal City of uMhlathuze
Newcastle Local Municipality
North West JB Marks Local Municipality
Moses Kotane Local Municipality
Northern Cape Emthanjeni Local Municipality
Sol Plaatje Local Municipality
Western Cape Oudtshoorn Local Municipality
Witzenberg Local Municipality

The COMPACT programme is designed to achieve a more responsive and accountable local government in South Africa by deepening democracy, enhancing the participation of local communities in the integrated development planning (IDP) processes (with particular emphasis on water and sanitation) and improving planning and oversight of service delivery in municipalities through enhanced community participation.

COMPACT believes that the key stakeholders in municipalities are best placed to articulate the challenges and opportunities with respect to public participation. Therefore the aim of action research was to surface these insights and ideas from political office-bearers, municipal officials, ward committee members, civil society organisations (CSOs) and community members themselves. As the COMPACT programme is underpinned by action research, Phase 1 of the research included semi-structured individual interviews and focus groups held with councillors, the administration and ward committee members.

Phase 2 of the action research comprised citizen engagement workshops held with community leaders, ward committee members and representatives of CSOs and CBOs in each of the municipalities. The action research was undertaken using this methodology with the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of the issues of public participation through the perspectives and experiences of individuals who have the knowledge and experience.

In 2022 and 2023, Phase 1 of the action research was undertaken with the 12 partner municipalities. Individual interviews and focus groups were held with over 300 people, including Mayors, Speakers, Municipal Managers, senior managers, officials ward councillors and ward committee members. Research findings show challenges and opportunities in relation to the IDP public participation process, ward committees, communication, operational planning, performance management, and the political-administrative interface in municipalities.

A stakeholder engagement was held in September 2023 where the findings and recommendations of Phase 1 of the action research were presented to key stakeholders, including partner municipalities, national departments, research institutions and civil society organisations (CSOs).

Phase 2 of the action research took place between October 2023 and March 2024. A one-day, interactive citizen engagement workshop was facilitated by PARI and SALGA in each partner municipality, comprising different sessions facilitated by members of the COMPACT team.

Over 200 community leaders, representatives from CSOs and community-based organisations (CBOs), and ward committee members, participated in the workshops. The purpose of the workshops was to gain insight from citizens into what is happening in the municipalities in terms of planning and participation, to feed into existing reports and to contribute to the development of the COMPACT Toolbox.

COMPACT is using the findings and recommendations of the action research to co-produce a COMPACT Toolbox, consisting of tools and resources which will be piloted with municipalities to improve participation, planning and oversight (e.g. citizen-based monitoring of infrastructure projects).

The findings and recommendations from both phases of the action research have been written up into 12 individual municipal reports, with initial findings presented to and discussed with key stakeholders in each of the partner municipalities. A consolidated technical findings report, which synthesises the findings and recommendations across the 12 partner municipalities, has also been developed.

Girish Daya
+27 71 633 8144

Winnie Dhlamlenze
+27 82 908 2884

@Compact – My Municipality