Citizen Participation in Local Government: The Importance of Effective Communication in Rural Development

B. N. Rasila, M. J. Mudau


In societies around the world there is a concern over the plight of poverty. In South Africa, years of active discrimination policy making and neglect have resulted in high levels of inequality characterized by extreme wealth on one hand and desperate poverty on the other. These activities left rural areas, mostly occupied by blacks in underdeveloped state while the urban areas, mostly occupied by whites are developed. This situation alienated poor communities to take active role in matters of governance and their development. The dawn of democracy in 1994 saw the inclusive democratic government having to strengthen communication between government institution and its communities and also to harness community participation. A qualitative study was conducted in Mutale local municipality, Vhembe district in Limpopo Province of South Africa where unstructured interviews were conducted to focus groups including ward committee members, traditional leadership and management. The study revealed that despite a number of communication mechanism and models implemented by Government, there is communication gap between government institutions and communities they serve. This demands for a new model of communication aimed at community participation and rural development. This communication gap makes the community members feel alienated from government initiatives and projects in general. They therefore do not feel they are part of government and do not take active role in matters of governance and those that are aimed at improving their living conditions. This continues to hinder rural development and the objectives of developmental rural government; that of the government that seek to empower communities through harnessing their full participation.


Effective communication, under-development, citizen participation, developmental local government

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International Journal of Community Development

ISSN 2330-2879/ eISSN 2330-2887/OCLC: 854909367

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