Public participation in government
Did you know you can participate in government’s decision-making? Not only during elections but on an ongoing basis. South Africa is a participatory democracy and where legislation is passed without facilitating public participation, especially by those members of the public most affected, the law is invalid.
Why public participation in South African law-making process is essential
Public participation in government is very important and necessary to make sure that you can influence decisions made by government that will impact on your life.
South Africa's Constitution requires that Parliament and the Legislatures provide a forum for the public consideration of issues and that they must:
- receive petitions,
- facilitate public involvement in their legislative and other processes, and
- conduct business in an open manner.
It's at the local level where we experience the direct effect of political decisions and we normally engage with our local municipalities in decisions that impact on our environment and community on a regular basis.
Our constitution is seen as the most progressive in the world. It even makes provision for public participation. In chapter 7 section 152, it's stated that the objectives of local government are:
- to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities,
- to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner,
- to promote social and economic development,
- to promote a safe and healthy environment, and
- to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.
A healthy democracy needs the involvement of the public in government decision-making that affects their lives. Remember that you can give input on proposed laws and bylaws on national, provincial and local level.
The following information can help you to get involved in government decisions and help you to keep government accountable.
You can get involved in the following levels of government:
Make your voice heard
There are a variety of ways in which you can voice your opinion and actively promote the type of society you want to live in and pass on to future generations.
Attending meetings and debates
You can participate in and influence the decisions in Parliament by keeping yourself informed through the media. Certain Parliament committee meetings are advertised in the newspapers and you can attend report back meetings, which are held by the members of Parliament.
You can get tickets to attend debates from the Public Relations Office, free of charge. Find more information about attending these debates here.
You can contact
Public Relations Specialist
Telephone: 021 403 2197
Telephone: 021 403 2198
You can find out which committee meetings are being held, the parliamentary programme and the broadcast schedule of Parliament TV here.
You can take an official tour of Parliament. This takes place on a Monday to Friday from 9am to 12pm. You’ll have to book a tour at least a week in advance. You can find more information about these tours here.
You can book your tour
Visitor's Programme Administrator
Telephone: 021 403 2266
Fax: 021 403 3303
Parliamentary Democracy Offices
These offices provide the public with an opportunity to engage with Members of Parliament and other levels of government (provincial and local) about their issues. Parliamentary Democracy Offices informs the public, facilitates inputs and feedback on matters before Parliament.
Address: Office 52, Good Hope Building, Parliament of RSA, Cape Town, 8000
Telephone: 021 403 3373 / 8215
Fax: 021 403 3118
Making a submission to parliament
You can make written submissions to Parliament on your views or opinions on a matter (including legislation under Parliamentary consideration). The submissions are referred to the relevant committee, which decides whether oral evidence should be heard or not.
Visit Parliament’s website for details on submissions.
You can also hand in a written request or complaint to Parliament in the form of a petition. The petition can be signed by a single person or by a large group of people. Find more information on the format of the petition, the different petition types and how to write one.
You can forward your petition to:
The Clerk of Papers
Telephone: 021 403 2224/6
Address: P.O.Box 15, Cape Town, 8000.
Contact details for Parliament:
Telephone: 021 403 2911
Fax: 021 403 8219
Physical Address: Parliament Street, Cape Town
Postal Address: PO Box 15, Cape Town, 8000
You can find out which issues are on the parliamentary or committee agendas by viewing the Provincial Parliamentary Diary and Papers of the House. Public hearings are also advertised in the Parliamentary Diary and in the local press.
Visiting Provincial Parliament
If you want to observe proceedings, you can visit Provincial Parliament. The times and venues of plenary sittings, committee meetings and public hearings are indicated in the Parliamentary Diary. Parliament also offers short tours of the building.
Making a submission
You can make written submissions to Provincial Parliament on any matter for which submissions have been invited. The submissions are referred to the relevant committee, which decides whether oral evidence should be heard or not.
A submission can be:
- delivered by hand
- submitted online
Visit the Provincial Parliament website for details on making submissions
You can also hand in a written request or complaint to Provincial Parliament in the form of a petition. The petition can be signed by a single person or by a large group of people.
You can submit petitions online.
For more information, you can also contact the Provincial Parliament
Telephone: 021 487 1600
Fax: 021 487 1696
public comment you can contact your local municipality:
- Cape Winelands District Municipality
- Witzenberg Municipality
- Drakenstein Municipality
- Stellenbosch Municipality
- Breede Valley Municipality
- Langeberg Municipality
- Central Karoo District Municipality
- Laingsburg Municipality
- Prince Albert Municipality
- Beaufort West Municipality
- Eden District Municipality
- Kannaland Municipality
- Hessequa Municipality
- Mossel Bay Municipality
- George Municipality
- Oudtshoorn Municipality
- Bitou Municipality
- Knysna Municipality
- Overberg District Municipality
- Theewaterskloof Municipality
- Overstrand Municipality
- Cape Agulhas Municipality
- Swellendam Municipality
- West Coast District Municipality
- Matzikama Municipality
- Cederberg Municipality
- Bergrivier Municipality
- Saldanha Bay Municipality
- Swartland Municipality
City of Cape Town
If you live in the Cape Metropole you can engage with the City of Cape Town by proposing new ideas for improving the community. You can view the ‘Meet the City’ infographic that shows how you can better your neighbourhood.
Your ward councillor works with the City to improve your community. You can contact your councillor to report any municipal issue or ideas for improvement. Here’s an infographic to illustrate how the ward councillor works within their community to bring about positive change.
You can find your ward councillor here.