An IDP Representative Forum, or key stakeholders, should be established to encourage the participation of communities and other stakeholders.
The forum may include.
- Members of the executive committee of the council.
- Councillors, including district councillors.
- Traditional leaders.
- Ward committee representative.
- Heads of departments and senior officials from municipal and government departments.
- Representatives from organised stakeholder groups.
- People who fight for the rights of unorganised groups – e.g. gender activists
- Resource people or advisers.
- Community representatives.
The purpose of this forum is to:
- Provide an opportunity for stakeholders to represent the interests of their constituencies.
- Provide a structure for discussion, negotiations and joint decision-making.
- Ensure proper communication between all stakeholders and the municipality.
- Monitor the planning and implementation process.
A code of conduct should be drawn up for these forums that provides details on:
- Meetings – frequency and attendance.
- Agenda, facilitation and recording of proceedings.
- Understanding the role of various stakeholders as representatives of their constituencies.
- How feedback to constituencies will take place.
- Required majority for decisions to be taken.
- How disputes will be resolved.
The council should also approve a strategy for public participation. The strategy must decide, among other things, on:
- The roles of the different stakeholders during the participation process.
- Ways to encourage the participation of unorganised groups.
- Method to ensure participation during the different phases of planning.
- Timeframes for public and stakeholder response, inputs and comments.
- Ways to disseminate information.
- Means to collect information on community needs.
Is your municipality doing this? If yes, your LCO must get involved. If they are not doing this, the municipality is in breach of its public participation requirements as set out in Chapter 4 of the Municipal Systems Act.
During the different stages of planning, participation can be encouraged in these ways:
- Community Meetings organised by the ward councillor
- Stakeholder Meetings
- Surveys and opinion polls (getting views on how people feel about a particular issue)
- IDP Representative Forums
- Public Debates on what can work best in solving a problem
- Meetings with affected communities and stakeholders
- Representation of stakeholders on project subcommittees
Planning from the bottom
The IDP should be planned from the ward level upwards making it absolutely fundamental for communities to jump in. IDPs should not be driven from the ideas of officials. All communities must identify and then verbalise their needs.
- This was compiled by the non-profit organisation the Education Training Unit