The Report of the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation (HLPKL) and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change, published on 22 November 2017, recommends that:
“Parliament should consider identifying and reviewing all legislation that includes a public participation component,… so that where provision is made for the public to be consulted, this consultation is meaningful and effective.” (page 403)
The HLPKL report, drawing on the Afesis-corplan and the Democracy Development Programme’s (DDP) submission to the panel, notes that:
“[t]he original conceptual framework for citizen participation in local government is limiting and robs local government of the opportunity to tap into the capacity, the energy and resources that rests within citizens to drive change. There is a need to rethink the role of active citizens in local governance as co-drivers of change. The existing framework for citizen participation only enables the public to participate as invited guests in local government processes as opposed to partners and co-creators. This argument is derived from the emphasis on the term to ‘encourage and to consult’ in Section 152 (1) of the Constitution, in Sections 1 and 4 of the Municipal Systems Act, and in Section 19 of the Municipal Structures Act” (page 402)
Afes-corplan and DDP would like to engage with the HLPKL, parliament and others in further reviewing current legislation to identify how public participation legislation can be improved.
In particular (as recommended in the Afesis-corplan and DDP submission), opportunities for legislative amendments need to be identified, where municipalities, government departments, parliament and others can be encouraged and supported to pilot and test more innovative public participation methods.
Afesis-corplan has also made comments on the land related recommendations from the HLPKL report.