Citizens shaping policies through public participation

South Africa is still a young democracy having made the transition from an apartheid regime to democracy in 1997. Its constitution took effect on 4 February 1997. According to the founders of the platform Dear South Africa, it is widely regarded as “the most progressive constitution in the world, with a Bill of Rights second to none”.

One of the pillars of this constitution is public participation. South Africa’s democratic system not only provides for citizens to elect their representatives, but also allows citizens to have a say in matters that affect them. The web-based platform Dear South Africa – – enables citizens to influence policies by making submissions concerning pieces of legislation and policies under consideration by a Parliamentary Committee or other government institution. This case study provides a specific example of how South African citizens have shaped a policy responding to water shortage in Cape Town.

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