PARTIPATORY BUDGETING (PB): MODELS FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE AND CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT
In July 2012 we co-hosted an international expert in Participatory Budgeting (PB), Professor Giovanni Allegretti, together with the KZN Office of the Premier and uMgungundlovu District Municipality.
Prof. Allegretti exposed a range of political
and administrative leaders in provincial and
local government, as well as CBOs involved
in our Deepening Democracy Project, to
various models and methods associated
with Participatory Budgeting.
Participatory Budgeting refers to a process of supporting citizen involvement in budgetary decisions that impact on them. It aims to create public arenas in which citizens can discuss and participate in prioritising development needs of the city, and other issues affecting the municipal budget. It is highly topical, given the state of relations between citizens and local government in many municipalities around the country, including our own Msunduzi. It is also very relevant in the South African context, with the notion of participatory democracy enshrined in Section 152 of our Constitution:
“The objects of local government are (inter alia)-
- “to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities;
- “to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.
There is no single model of PB. Rather, it is a process that is developed within the legislative and fiscal framework of the country, and the capacity of the tier of government that gives it effect. The methods of engaging the public are equally varied – neighbourhood forums, formal thematic or sectoral engagements, prioritizing competing needs using card votes and in remote areas even SMS voting.
The introduction of PB into development planning and budgeting has proven to have many positive impacts globally over the past 20 years: It has been credited with reversing the estrangement between politicians and citizens, arresting a decline in voting turnout and political party membership, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery, and consequently improving rates of payment of government taxes (rates) and service charges.
PB will form a cornerstone of the next phase of the Deepening Democracy Project, when we introduce change management processes within targeted local municipalities that are willing to embrace the
challenge of democratising their decision making processes. The objective in the local context is to create space for improved communication and deeper engagement with the public in preparing municipal IDPs and annual capital and operating budgets than the traditional once-a-year “imbizo.”