Public Participation

Introduction

The Public Participation and Petitions (PPP) Unit was established to comply with the constitutional imperative that a provincial legislature must facilitate public involvement in all its legislative and other processes. The framework which governs the PPP Unit draws from:

• The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, in particular Section 118; Section 17 and Section 115(d)
• The KwaZulu-Natal Petitions Act, 2003, Act No 4 of 2003
• The Standing Rules of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

What is Public Participation?
Public participation is defined as the involvement of the public or communities in legislative processes, oversight, issues of governance affecting their lives (Acts, Bills and/or public hearings) and activities by the committees of a legislature.

Public participation is a political, voluntary and consultative process through which members of the public, directly or indirectly, share in the process of governance.

Public participation gives a face to the Legislature and familiarises Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) to the public whom they have been mandated to represent.

Public participation gives members of the public an opportunity to express their views and be informed on government processes and programmes.

What are the Advantages of Public Participation?
• It promotes interaction between the public and legislators, thereby bridging the gap between public representatives and communities in the province.
• It provides a platform for the public to participate in and express their views on service delivery and issues affecting their lives.
• It educates the public on legislative processes and popularises legislatures and their functions.
• It provides a mechanism to generate feedback from the public on their experiences of service-delivery.
• It provides a platform for the public to participate in law-making processes (Bills) and oversight.
• It is a consultative process.
• It allows for access to information which the public would not normally be in possession of.
• It promotes transparency and accountability in governance.

Approach of KZN Legislature to Promoting Public Participation
The KZN Legislature, as a leading role player in promoting public participation, devised two constructs through which they approach public participation, namely:
• The Standing Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals, Public Participation and Petitions to handle public involvement and petition issues, and
• The public participation strategy of the KZN Legislature.

Responsibilities of Standing Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals, Public Participation and Petitions
The KZN Petitions Act requires the standing committee to take responsible steps from time to time to:

• Inform the citizens of KwaZulu-Natal of their rights in terms of the Act;
• Inform the citizens of the province of the physical address, postal address, electronic address or fax number through which petitions may be submitted;
• Exercise maximum accountability and transparency in the consideration of a petition;
• Where appropriate or if requested to do so by the petitioner, resolve a dispute, reverse and act or rectify an omission by means of mediation or negotiation;
• Lodge a complaint with the Public Protector, where appropriate, if the conduct of a person or body to whom a petition has been referred is unsatisfactory;
• Assume a supervisory role in respect of an administrative support service by issuing directives in respect of preliminary investigations;
• Conduct an impact assessment on the efficacy of the processes of public participation and petitions;
• Monitor the organising and managing of programmes and initiatives assigned to promote, advertise or popularise public participation and petitions, and
• Ensure that persons or categories of persons, previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination, enjoy full participation in the processes of provincial governance.

Public Participation Strategy
The strategy of the Public Participation and Petitions Unit is based on the following pillars:

• Public education
• Public hearings
• Legislative excursions
• Petitions
• Co-operation with civil society organisations
• People’s Assemblies and/or sector parliaments
• Use of constituency offices

Key Role Players responsible for Public Participation
• Municipalities assist the Legislature with mobilising members of the public during sittings of sector parliaments;
• Civil society organisations form part of delegations at sector parliaments;
• NGOs provide the Legislature with participants during the People’s Assembly;
• Members of the public, including schools, churches and tertiary institutions, all take part in legislative excursions and visits to the Legislature, and
• Government departments facilitate displays, exhibitions and information stands during Taking the Legislature to the People initiatives by providing mobile offices for the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

The Public Participation and Petitions Unit is guided by two strategic objectives of the KZN Legislature, namely to enhance public knowledge of the Legislature and its processes, and to facilitate public involvement in legislative and other policy formulation processes of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature and its committees.

Furthermore, the unit aims at achieving two measurable objectives, as stated in the strategic plan, namely:
• To capacitate members of the public and all relevant stakeholders on the functions and roles of the Legislature, and
• To ensure meaningful public participation in all processes of the KZN Legislature.

The main function of the Public Participation and Petitions Unit is to provide administrative support to committees of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.

 


To find out more about the Legislature and its committees, or to arrange a visit to the Legislature, contact the Public Participation and Petitions Unit:

By writing to:
The Manager Public Participation and Petitions Unit
Private Bag X9112
Pietermaritzburg, 3200

By visiting:
244 Langalibalele Street, Pietermaritzburg, 3201

By phone:
+27 33 355 7600

By fax:
(033) 3557011 / 7099

By email:
info@kznlegislature.gov.za

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