1.1 Background of the Study
Madajewicz, Tompsett and Habib (2017) evidence points to cases in which community participation fails to improve or even worsens outcomes as well as to cases in which there are bene?ts, as is the case with decentralization. Regional and local governance in Namibia are not addressing services to citizens in a manner that is effectively contributing to equitable service delivery at grassroots levels. There seems to be lack of active citizen participation, (Helao, 2015). Citizen participation in policy implementation is also low because avenues for such participation are either not available or very limited. Some development programmes take long to get off the ground to address community problems.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Regional and local governance in Namibia are not addressing services to citizens in a manner that is effectively contributing to equitable service delivery at grassroots levels. There seems to be lack of active citizen participation in decision making. However, at present, the process of community participation in decision making between councillors and community members in Khomas region needs to be revisited in order to make it more inclusive of all the informal communities. Therefore, this study suggests that good governance practices need to be put in place at sub-national levels to enhance community participation. Furthermore, improved governance practices encourage public officials to focus and seriously consider community needs and expectations in the process of policy implementation (Helao, 2015).
1.3 Research Questions
The primary focus of this study is to examine and assess the role of community members in community participation with regional councillors regarding decision making in the Khomas region. The study addressed the following research questions:
• What is the role of community members in community participation regarding decision making in the Khomas region of Namibia?
• What specific mechanisms should be put in place to facilitate adequate community participation in decision making between councillors and community members?
• What other options could be employed to improve community participation in decision making between Regional Councillors and the grassroots communities?
1.4 Significance of the Study
Since the enactment of the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992, there has been an outcry specifically by the grassroots people in the regions (Khomas included) of lack of democracy and community participation in decision making between Regional Councillors and the youth. Therefore, the rationale behind this study is to contribute to an understanding that democracy and community participation in decision making should exist in order to improve service delivery in Khomas region. This study is significant since there were hardly any serious academic research undertaken in this area before in the Khomas region. Moreover, the study would assist to improve community participation in decision making process in Namibia as a whole. This research proposal may assist academics, readers, and Regional Councillors in understanding the degree to which democracy and community participation in decision making takes place in Khomas region (Helao, 2015).
1.5 Limitation of the Study
A general lack of literature in particular, in the field of regional and local governance in Namibia hampered the nature and scope of this study, no previous study in this area has been conducted in Namibia before; hence, there are few sources specifically on regional governance in Namibia to which this study should be based. Moreover, the research was conducted over a short period of time because of financial difficulties and time limit, thus, it was not inclusive as it should be, should it be done over a reasonable period of time. Conducting a two-year study or so would be ideal to generate a systematic and comprehensive input to the academic domain.
1.6 Delimitation of the Study
The study was limited to ten youth members in Khomas region and five councillors. There have been many cases reported of poor community participation in decision making between regional councillors and the youth in Wanaheda. The researcher forms part of the youth and the youth are the active members within every society and they serve as future leaders of tomorrow. The youth can impact change and contributes towards positive social change for everyone.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Democracy Bekaj (2017) defines democracy as a political system that is based on popular control and political equality
Community Participation is the engagement of citizens in a variety of administrative policy making activities (Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipal Communication Strategy, 2015).
Decision making is a conscious choice among alternative courses of action from among two or more possible alternatives in order to arrive at a solution for a given problem.
Regional Councillor in the context of this study, it refers to a member of the Regional Council who has been democratically elected by the community members of a particular unit or constituency to represent them and facilitate economic and social development.
Youth The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by member states.
2.1 Conceptual framework: The relationship between democracy, community participation in decision making
Bekaj (2017) democracy is defined, basically, as government in which the supreme power is vested in the people. In some forms, democracy can be exercised directly by the people; in large societies, it is by the people through their elected agents. Community Participation it concerns the engagement of individuals and communities in decisions about things that affect their lives (Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipal Communication Strategy, 2015/16:3).
(Madajewicz, Tompsett & Habib, 2018) decision making is usually defined as a process or sequence of activities involving stages of problem recognition, search for information, definition of alternatives and the selection of an actor of one from two or more alternatives consistent with the ranked preferences. If there is no democracy, there will be no community participation, hence there will be no decision making.
2.2 Literature Review
Article 18 of the Namibian Constitution, Act 1 of 1990, makes provisions for institutions and administrative bodies to act fairly and reasonably when dealing with the provision of services to people. Furthermore, Section 28 of the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992 stipulates that Regional Councillors should coordinate services and advise the central government on matters of community interests. Therefore, if Regional Councillors in the Khomas region are not adequately consulting and effectively communicating with the youth concerning basic services provision, it is in a way, a denial of the constitutional rights to the people (Helao, 2015). Chapter 12 of the ruling party (SWAPO) election manifesto of 1989, states that under a SWAPO government, independent Namibia will have democratically elected local authorities, both in rural and urban areas, in order to give power to the people at the grassroots level to make decisions on matters affecting their lives.
For that reason, it is expected of the elected representatives (councillors) in the Khomas region to ensure that sufficient institutions and communication channels are put in place, through which rural people could reach councillors and raise pertinent issues that are affecting their daily lives. Regional Councillors should be approachable, accessible and most significantly, councillors should have institutions where social dialogue could take place. Therefore, the assumption is that, regular community participation and interaction between Regional Councillors and community members could improve the standard of living of rural people (Helao, 2015).
3. Research Methodology
3.1 Research Design
Burns and Grove (2014) define a research design as “a blueprint for conducting a study with maximum control over factors that may interfere with the validity of the findings”. There are different types of research designs namely: qualitative and quantitative
The study adopted a quantitative research design. For the case study purpose, fieldwork results were collected through questionnaires. The researcher handed out questionnaires to regional councillors as well as to the youth for them to provide insightful information on the relationship between Regional Councillors and the youth concerning decision making.
Burns and Grove (2014) population refers to objects, subjects, phenomena, cases, events and activities which the researcher wishes to research in order to establish new knowledge. The population of the study was made up of employed youth from Wanaheda in Khomas region, constituency had 25 642 inhabitants in 2010. In 2013, the same constituency had 41 988 according to the Namibian constituency count. According to the Namibia 2011 population and housing census premimarily results, there were 45 500 youth.
3.3 Sample and Sampling Procedure
Brynard, Hanekom and Brynard (2014) a sample is a subset of a population that is used to represent the entire group as a whole. There are two methods of sampling namely: probability and non-probability. The research sampling method that was used in this study is a probability. Probability sampling means people have equal chances to be chosen/selected in order to be part participants who were five from Wanaheda in Khomas region who were rich in information in order to gain insight about the issue of interest. The researcher wrote names on small papers, reached out to the community, while blind folded, five participants picked those small papers randomly.
3.4 Research Instruments
A research instrument is what you use to collect the information (Brynard, Hanekom and Brynard, 2014). It helps you keep track of what you observe and how to report it. It must be both valid and precise. Fieldwork results were collected through questionnaires for two hours. The researcher gave regional councillors as well as the youth to fill in the answers and to provide insightful information on the relationship between Regional Councillors and the youth concerning decision making.
3.5 Pilot Study
A pilot study is a mini-version of a full-scale study or a trial run done in preparation of the complete study. Data was collected using questionnaires and were pilot tested. A sample questions was handed out to eight employees for Red Cross Namibia and two ordinary members of society before the final draft of the questionnaires was sent out. In doing so the researcher evaluated how effective the questions contained in the questionnaire would help in answering the research questions and consequently how they provide a solution to the research problem.
The researcher, was granted permission to collect data from the Samora Machel Constituency Councillor in Wanaheda. The researcher approached the selected participants and introduced herself to the participants. The researcher asked the respondents to introduce themselves. Furthermore, the researcher gave a brief explanation of the purpose of the study. In addition, the researcher informed the respondents of their capacity to withdraw from the interview or in case they do not want to be part of the study anymore, they have the right to do so as this qualifies as informed consent. The researcher spent 10 minutes with each participant while noting down their responses.
3.7 Data Analysis
The process of categorising and making data meaningful is referred to as data analysis. In the context of this study, empirical data was collected. Thus, proper analysis was done. Data that was collected from the study was analysed and interpreted. The data collected through questionnaires was carefully analysed and interpreted to generate information necessary to explain the nature and scope of the influence democracy and community participation in decision making amongst regional councillors and the youth in Khomas region in particular. Moreover, the validity of the content was ensured through comprehensive literature review, and verification of questions, through piloting. Reliability of collected information was guaranteed by means of prior piloting of the questionnaires, to a small group of respondents.
3.8 Research Ethics
It relates to what is right and wrong when conducting research (Brynard, Hanekom & Brynard, 2014). The researcher was aware of the big responsibility to be sensitive and respectful of research participants and their basic human rights and fully endorse the Ethical Code of the University of Namibia. In particular, the researcher ensured the following throughout the study: (i) explicate the aim and objectives of the study; (ii) made it clear to them that participating in the study is voluntary, and that should they for some reason want to withdraw from it, they have the right to voluntary do so at any time; (iii) that everybody participating in the study complete an informed consent form (iv) that their privacy will be respected at all time and that everything they share will be treated as confidential.
Data Analysis and Interpretation
Field work results in the case of Khomas Region, Wanaheda
This Chapter presents the case study of the Khomas region which is the focus of this research report. It interprets the data collected by the researcher through the questionnaires which were handed to 5 Regional Councillors of the respective constituencies in Khomas Region. In addition to the responses by councillors, further data was collected from the youth through structured questionnaires. As it was indicated earlier in Chapter One of this study, the ultimate aim of this research is to examine and assess the influence of democracy and community participation in decision making regarding the youth in Khomas region, Wanaheda.
Furthermore, since the research focused more on community participation in decision making between Regional Councillors and community members, in each case the responses by the Regional Councillors were interpreted and analyzed in order to establish an understanding of the situation in the Khomas region.
Questionnaire questions for the Regional Councillors
Table 1: Do you think there is a need for regular communication between your office and youth
Demographic Number of participants %
Yes 5 100%
No 0 0%
Total 5 100%
Figure 1 shows that all five Regional Councillors agreed 100% that communication is definitely needed in order to reach majority of people in the respective constituencies. They organize public meetings in the community for the youth to raise their ideas and discuss issues that affect them. This gives them the opportunity to inform communities about government activities and projects, and at the same time listen to community problems and concerns.
The councillor of Samora Machel Constituency indicated that communication between community members and the constituent office is pleasing. The councillor, however, pointed out that although the office’s door is open to all community members, some people live far from the constituent office, and hence, they might not be in contact with the councillor as they wish to. The councillor further indicated that regular community meetings are held to inform, give feedback and listen to community problems and concerns as well as to discuss development programmes in the constituency. The councillor of the Moses Garoeb constituency agreed to the same idea and maintained that not only the constituent office is used for communication but general community meetings are regularly held at various constituency centers.
Table 2: Do you communicate community meetings with the youth?
Demographic Number of participants %
Yes 5 100%
No 0 0%
Total 5 100
On the question whether community meetings are communicated with the youth, all five councillors agreed 100%, they further indicated that they make use of schools, churches, center leaders in the constituencies, community development committee leaders, announcement over the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), or any other appropriate structures to convey messages and give feedback to community members. Some councillors explained that they drive around in communities with speakers in order to inform their communities about their upcoming meetings.
However, some Regional Councillors pointed out that there is a need to improve communication with community members at constituency level. Other councillors felt that meetings should be held on regular basis to give communities the opportunity to discuss matters of economic and social concern as they occurred. Regional Councillors pointed out that due to too much work on their shoulders, community members are always encouraged to approach center leaders who in turn forward such information to councillors’ offices. All five respondents indicated that they allow community members to consult with them in their homes, even after office hours or over weekends when they have time. Regional Councillors further pointed out that all community members are actively involved in all development issues in the constituency. However, as the councillor of Tobias Hainyeko pointed out, due to ignorance among some community members it is not easy to ensure a hundred percent participation of the community in the Regional Council development programmes.
Table 3: Does the youth in your constituency take part in developmental initiatives in their communities?
Demographic Number of participants %
Yes 4 80%
No 1 20%
Total 5 100
As indicated in figure 3, only 80% of the youth that takes part in developmental initiatives in their respective communities. One councillor stated that the youth in his constituency hardly take part in developmental initiatives. It is quite evident that majority of the youth in constituencies are very active and do utilize opportunities presented them. This is a clear sign that many young people are active in their communities and do contribute towards further development of their communities in order to improve their living standards. According to the councillor of the Khomasdal constituency, community members are eager and willing to participate in all matters that affect their daily lives. The community is keen to participate in issues like water provision, food provision, and other development programmes.
20% of the youth is very ignorant and have developed a dependency syndrome, they do not want to work, and they are very reluctant and believe that their councillors and the government will do everything for them. It was highlighted that few young people do not want to work, especially doing field work activities, community outreach programmes and so on. However, as the councilor for John Pandeni constituency pointed out, lack of information limits community participation. The Regional Councillor further indicated that community participation takes place only when the councilor is are available to community members in the respective constituencies.
Table 4: Do all community members in your constituency have access to the councillor’s office?
Demographic Number of participants %
Yes 4 80%
No 1 20%
Total 5 100%
According to figure 4 80% of the community members have access to the councillors offices. The availability of the Regional Councillors largely determines the extent to which community participation takes place within communities. Communities become actively involved when they have access to the councillors and information related to regional development activities. The councillor for Windhoek East constituency explained that, when the councillor is available, community members will be more eager to work and take part in activities that will improve their livelihoods. The councillor’s availability also strengthen their relationship with their community members.
However, 20% of individuals do not have access to the councillor’s office due to lack of information and this hinders them from participating. The Regional Councillor for Windhoek Rural constituency further indicated that community participation takes place only when the councillors are accessible to community members in the respective constituencies. The councillor further explained that, the distance is also a problem and this stops community members from going to the regional councillor. Some cannot travel to the councillor’s office due to transport issues.
Table 5: Which meetings draw the majority of attendance from the community in your constituency and why?
Community Meetings Number of participants %
Unemployment 0 0%
Food relief 1 20%
Provision of toilets 1 20%
Provision of water 2 40%
of electricity 1 20%
Total 5 100%
On the question as to which meetings draws the majority of attendance from community members in their respective constituencies, it shows that there is 0% of meetings on unemployment. Community members are eager and willing to participate in all matters that affect their daily lives. It is stated that there is 20% of community members who attends meetings about food relief as our community members receive food through the Harambee Prosperity Plan. 20% of community members attend meetings on the provision of toilets as sanitation is very important in our communities. 40% of community members attend meetings on the provision of clean water as most of our community members do not have access to clean water.
20% of community members attend meetings on the provision of electricity stated the councillor for Moses Garoeb constituency as many houses do not have electricity.
Table 6: What basic services are most needed by the community in your constituency?
Basic services Number of participants %
Piped water 2 40%
electricity 1 20%
Health care centers and clinics 2 40%
Better classes for schools 0 0
Enough street lights 0 0
Total 5 100%
Figure 6 shows that 40% of community members from different constituencies needs piped water. 20% of the community members need electricity especially informal settlements. The government has in some cases done a better job and still trying to meet the needs of the community members especially those in informal settlements such as Goreangab Dam. 40% of the communities need nearby clinics and health centers as they walk long distances to seek for medical attention.
The Moses Garoeb councillor further pointed out that in order to ensure that those services are delivered to every citizen, more resources must be made available from the government to the Regional Council, in order to address issues affecting their communities.
Table 7: What do you think should be done to ensure community participation in decision making in your constituency?
How to ensure community participation in decision making Number of participants %
Democratic leadership 1 20%
Agreement of action plans with communities 1 20%
Empowerment 0 0%
Identify issues and needs with community members 2 40%
Engage communities in assessment processes 1 20/%
Total 5 100%
Community participation can be ensured through the above mentioned processes. Figure 7 indicates that 20% chances of democratic leadership can contributes towards community participation in decision making. The regional councillors alone together with the government cannot achieve anything without community participation stated the councillor for Tobias Hainyeko constituency. The councillor further explained that, there should be community inclusion when it comes to decision making, especially when dealing with issues affecting our communities. 20% shows that through agreement of action plans with communities, there will be community participation in decision making.
There is 0% of empowerment as councillors feel it is less effective. It shows that 40% chances of councillors to identify issues and needs with communities will help to improve community participation in decision making in a sense that communities know their needs more than anyone else does, they know what they need and therefore it would be best if they identify issues themselves. 20% chances of engaging communities in assessment process would also contribute towards community participation. This simply means that, communities should be involved not only in implementation processes, but they should take ownership stated the councillors.
Table 8: What do you think the Regional Councillor should do to better the lives of the community members?
What should be done to better the lives of community members Number of participants %
Encourage community members to participate in activities 1 20%
Plan accordingly 0 0%
Work with community members on community projects 2 40%
Involve community members in decision making 0 0
Encourage community members to attend business basic classes 2 40%
Total 5 100%
On the question as to what Regional Councillors should do to better the lives of the grassroots communities. Figure 8 shows that 20% should consider encouraging community members to take part in activities stated the councillor for Whindhoek East Rural constituency. Councillors feel like planning accordingly is of less importance as it has 0% contribution towards improving the living standards of community members. 40% attempts of working with community members on community projects The Tobias Hainyeko constituency councillor explained that, councillors should work closely with community members and most importantly involve and encourage them to participate. The councillors pointed out that communities should be mobilized to be actively involved in all development activities.
All the 5 councillors agreed that involving community members in decision making processes is less effective as it has 0% contribution towards the improvement of community member’s livelihoods. 40% chances of encouraging community members to attend business basic classes, so that they can gain business skills, for them to start up their own businesses, to embrace various ways of survival and strengthen their earning capacities. By doing so, community members will be able to sustain themselves and their families and further improve their living standards.
Data Analysis and Interpretation
Questionnaire questions for the Youth
Table 1: Gender
Participants were asked to indicate their sex, the findings are as follows:
Sex Number of Participants %
Male 4 40%
Female 6 60%
Total 10 100%
Figure 1 above reveals that 40% of the participants were male, and 60% of the participants were female.
Table 2: Age
Participants were asked to indicate their age, the findings are as follows:
Age Number of participants %
18-21 years 2 20%
22-26 years 4 40%
27-30 years 3 30%
31-35 years 1 10%
36-40 years 0 0%
Total 10 100%
Figure 2 above shows that, 20% of the participants are between the ages of 18-21 years who believes that community involvement brings about positive change in communities. With 40% of participants between the ages of 22-26 years, this is a clear picture that youth members from the age of 22 to 26 do take part in community development activities and do influence decision making and issues affecting them in their respective constituency. Furthermore, it also shows that 30% of the individuals who participated are between the ages of 27 to 30 years and believe that, community members should be involved in community development projects for further development of the communities. 10% of the participants are between the ages of 31 to 35 years and 0% of individuals between 36 to 40 years.
Table 3: Marital Status
Marital Status Number of participants %
Single 7 70%
Married 3 30%
Divorced 0 0%
Total 10 100/%
As shown in figure 3, participants were asked to indicate their marital statuses. It shows that 70% of the participants are single. 30% of the participants are married and 0% divorced individuals.
Table 4: Educational background
Education Number of participants %
Grade 1-7 2 20%
Grade 8-12 3 30%
University level 4 40%
Never went to school 1 10%
Total 10 100%
Figure 4 shows that 20% of the participants who participated in this study attended primary education only from grade 1 until grade 7. Furthermore, it is indicated that 30% of the individuals attended secondary education from grade 8 until grade 12 only. Furthermore, 40% of the participants reached tertiary education which is university and only 1 individual that never went to school at all.
Table 5: Employment
Employment status Number of participants %
Employed 7 70%
Unemployed 0 0%
Self employed 3 30%
Never worked 0 0%
Total 10 100%
As shown in figure 5, it indicates that 70% of the individuals who took part in this research study are actually employed with 30% of individuals who are self -employed and work for themselves to sustain themselves and their families. Although we have high unemployment rate among the youth in many communities, there is 0% of unemployed participants in this regard. There is 0% of participants who never worked before which a positive outcome.
Table 6: How reachable is your Regional Councillor?
Number of participants %
Always available 0 0%
Sometimes 10 100%
Never 0 0%
Often 0 0%
Total 10 100%
All the 10 participants in this study agreed 100% that their regional councillors are only available sometimes. The youth claimed that some of the regional councillors do not have personal assistants, which means when the councillors are out in the field, community members struggle to get hold of the councillors. For those that do have personal assistants, their assistants are rude and do not treat community members humanely and with respect especially elderly people who do not understand English. Participants who are residing in Wanaheda, in Samora Machel constituency showed a great relationship with their councillor. Participants from the Moses Garoeb constituency also appreciates their councillor as he communicates with them well in advance, when should there be community meetings and other activities that needs the communitie’s attention. All the participants claimed, their councillors reach them mostly through the Radio as they are always not available to meet community members in person due to other responsibilities.
Table 7: How often does the Regional Councillor hold meetings with the youth in your area?
Number of participants %
Very often 0 0%
Often 2 20%
Sometimes 4 40%
Never 0 0%
Weekly 0 0%
Monthly 4 40%
Yearly 0 0%
Total 10 100%
Figure 7 shows that all the 10 participants agreed that their regional councillors do not hold meetings with the youth very often. It also shows that only 20% of the councillors that hold meetings with the youth often. 40% of the youth indicated that their regional councillors do hold meetings with the youth sometimes. All the participants agreed that there are no meetings held weekly and there is 0% of meetings never held. 40% of the participants agreed that their councillors hold meetings with the youth montly, to discuss issues affecting the youth. All the participants agreed that there is 0% of meetings held yearly.
Table 8: How do you receive information and feedback related to development activities in the constituency?
Number of participants Percentages %
Radios 5 50%
Television 0 0%
Social media platforms 2 20%
Church gatherings 3 30%
Total 10 100%
Figure 8 shows that 50% of the community members mostly make use of radios to receive informationa feedback on community development issues, community meetings and so on. 20% of the community members receive information from social media platforms such as Whatsapp groups and Facebook, for those that have smart phones and other devices. 30% of the participants indicated that they receive information from church gatherings.
Table 9: What services do you receive from the Khomas regional council?
Services Number of participants %
Clean water 3 30%
Food aid 2 20%
Clinics 0 0%
Electricity 2 20%
Schools 2 20%
Telecommunication 0% 0%
Roads 1 10%
Total 10 100%
Figure 9 shows that 30% of the participants do have access to clean water with the help of the Khomas Regional Council. 20% of the participants do get food through the regional council. There is 0% of health centers and clinics, 20% participants agreed to have gotten electricity and 20% school buildings, with only 10% of roads construction in their communities.
Table 10: Do you take part in decision making processes?
Number of participants %
Yes 6 60%
No 4 40%
Total 10 100%
With regards to whether the youth does take part in decision making, 60% indicated that decision making is very important to them and they do take part. However, 40% of the respondents indicated that they do not take part in decision making as they feel their voices are not being heard. They further explained that, there is no practicality, they feel like ideas are only put on paper but no action is taken.
Discussion of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
The purpose of this Chapter is to present the main research findings on the key issues of the study and information derived from fieldworks. The research findings are presented in the same manner following this research pattern: First, the researcher puts forward findings on the empirical evidence derived from fieldwork in the case of the Khomas region. Secondly, the researcher drew main research findings based on the following key issues; communication between councillors and community members, the availability of councillors and community participation, and services provision. This section determines whether the study’s research questions has been answered, gives the study’s final conclusion and recommendations.
5.2 Field Work Results
The responses by Regional Councillors and views of the community members on communication shows that Regional Councillors in the Khomas region have constituency offices, however, not all regionl councillors have personal assisstants, which hinders communication between regional councillors and community members. This means that when the councillor is in the field, community members might not be able to get hold of the councillor because the office is closed.
This is quite evident that councillors allow community members to engage with them in their homes, even after office hours or over weekends. It should be noted that effective communication might only be realized when sufficient funds and other resources are made available to the Regional Councillors. The community members indicated that poor community participation existed due to unreachability of councillors, long distances and significant information. Gadgets for communication are limited in the region, yet, those available are not effectively utilized. The Oshiwambo radio service remains the main instrument of communication commonly used in the region to convey messages from the councillors and give feedback to community members on issues affecting them and community development activities. However, there are some community members who do not have radios, and thus, they could be left out from receiving information disseminated on the radio. The empirical evidence by Regional Councillors and community members seemed to indicate that unless proper mechanisms are put in place, communication would remain a problem in the region. Community members are concerned with the degree of availability of the councillors due to distances between some communities and the offices of the councillors. Some Regional Councillors have so many responsibilities therefore, this may limit their availability.
5.3 Findings on Communication
The experience on regional in other countries indicate that where good relationship and interaction between councillors and community members exist, communication may also flourish (Helao, 2015). For communication to be effective there should be good relationship and between elected representatives and community members, active community participation, access to relevant and updated information and responsive government agent. For that reason, Regional Councillors as elected representatives of the people should consult with the grassroots communities on regular basis so that they could fulfil their political obligations and address the real needs and expectations of the community.
Communication breakdown could lead to limited service delivery and poor standard of living of the grassroots people. However, the research found that the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992 is not explicitly clear on the consultation and communication issue. These pieces of legislations do not clearly specify that councillors must hold public meetings and that intensive interaction must take place between councillors, and community members at the grassroots level for the benefit of the poor. However, the Decentralization policy is clear communication. According to this policy, communication promotes participatory democracy and increase community participation (Helao, 2015).
The research found that Regional Councillors rely heavily on the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (Oshiwambo radio service) to convey messages and give feedback to community members. In addition, this is one of the effective ways of communication in the sense that the radio is listened to all over the region. Even so, it should be noted that among community members in the Khomas region there are those who do not own radios and have no access to it either, thus, they are sometimes deprived of the current and important information from councillors. There are other several instruments of communication that elected councillors may use to convey messages and give feedback to community members. Such instruments are newspapers, regular public meetings, church gatherings and so on, or any other instruments in communities that are available, accessible and easily reachable.
5.4 Findings on the Availability of Councillors and Community Participation
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, each counstituency should have a councillor elected to represent the people. Thus, it is required of them to be available to community members always. However, the research found that some constituencies do not have the necessary resources which hinders the availability of the councillors to some community members. Literature revealed that active participation and involvement of the grassroots people to a certain extent is determined by the availability of relevant information to community, and continuous interaction between councillors and community members. It is therefore, important for the councillors to keep regular contacts with people because it strengthens their relationship.
The availability of councillors in this regard does not really mean that the councillors should make meetings or be in office so that community members can get hold of them, the way they address community members also play a big role. The availability of councillors and community participation would run smoothly if they hold regular community meetings, use acquainted language and share all information related to community development in the region.
The study found that there exits poor information sharing between, councillors and community members, limited resources and average level of community participation. The study also found that while community members are said to be reluctant to attend meetings, on the other hand, Regional Councillors are struggling to meet their responsibilities due to some reasons. Despite that, the study also found that the grassroots communities are not properly organized, therefore, their impact on the community participation process is affected.
5.5 Findings on Services Provision
Service provision is a social issue, not only in Khomas region but in all other regions in Namibia as well. Grassroots community expectations and needs are not met by the respective Regional Councils. Based on information from the fieldwork, experience and observation by the researcher, evidence exists that the Khomas Regional Council is making efforts to ensure that the majority of people receive essential services especially individuals staying in informal settlements. These services includes food aid, clean water, toilets, and electricity, just to mention a few.
It is evident that even if adequate communication may take place between Regional Councillors and community members, the obvious lack of resources, treasuries and decision making powers may render service provision idealistic. Both Regional Councillors and community members acknowledged that some essential services such as piped water, schools, clinics, electricity, gravel roads, telecommunication means are provided to the areas in the region, but not to all communities. Clearly, this indicates that most of the basic services are not available to some community members. Constituencies such as Moses Garoeb (Goreangab informal settlement), lacks piped water points and health facilities and communities travel long distances to access those services.
Since our country gained its independence, the government of the Republic of Namibia has been providing these services, private sectors and other international donors. The reality on the ground is that councillors do not have the necessary resources in order to meet the needs of their community members. The research found that some community members do not have electricity in their homes, some do not have running taps, some do not toilets and so on, and these problems needs to be addressed by both the government, councillors and community members.
5.6 Conclusion and Recommendations
The research attempted to address the question of the influence of democracy and community participation in decision making between regional councillors and the youth in Khomas region, Wanaheda. This was extensively highlighted under Chapter Two and Four of this research report. From the outset, it was clear that community participation in decision making is not seemed to receive the necessary attention from the Khomas region. This was confirmed by community members in the questionnaires with the researcher.
There is a need to build up the understanding of elected regional councillors regarding community participation in decision making and teach them the importance of community participation in decision making. The research has noted that in an attempt to address the question of participatory democracy at the grassroots level, the government of Namibia has put in place legal instruments to supplement participatory democracy. These are: the Constitution Act 1 of 1990, the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992, to strengthen communication and participatory democracy at the grassroots level, Regional Councillors were elected and placed in juxtaposition of grassroots people.
The study showed through field work results and literature review that regional supremacy is not only about implementation of projects but also about community participation, community involvement, community engagement, community building, community organizing, building relationships with community members, co-operation, sharing information, transparency, equal distribution of resources, community sensitization and so on. All these may improve communication, encourage participatory democracy and inform inhabitants their constitutional rights regarding community development in decision making. If all the regional councillors put the above into consideration, they will be able to come up with possible solution to problems affecting their community members.
Nevertheless, the above; communication and community participation in decision making are still minimal in Khomas region, particularly at constituency level where the majority of the population live. It is therefore, necessary that this study should provide recommendations that could help readers, academics and community in general to understand the situation in Khomas region. These recommendations may assist the Regional Councillors in Khomas region to improve community participation in decision making especially in the abandoned and underprivileged informal settlements.
A number of recommendations are suggested in this study for the purpose of improving democracy and community participation on decision making between regional councillors and the youth in the Khomas region of Namibia.
Recommendation One: Individuals at grassroots level should be engaged in community participation and decision making through proper communication.
Communication should not take place in a vacuum which means there should be active participation of community members to facilitate change within their communities. Communication is more effective when people take ownership and are involved in decision making. It works well when there is ongoing community dialogue established at the grassroots level in order to engage communities in all development activities in their communities. This study recommends that the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992 should be the main tool to facilitate communication and community participation. When councillors hold meetings, they should allow community members to influence decision making, to raise their ideas on issues affecting them so that when community projects are implemented, they should meet the needs of the people.
Recommendation two: The National Policy on community participation should be formulated
The National Policy on community participation should be put in place in order to ensure that the grassroots people are mobilized and participate in matters that are affecting their lives. The policy can serve as a guideline document to Regional Councillors and Local Authority Councillors on how to effectively involve community members to participate. It is argued in this study that it is indeed the responsibility of the government to ensure that disadvantaged communities, vulnerable communities, minority groups, marginalized groups and the entire society at large participate and are involve in all forms of service delivery.
Recommendation three: Promote active and representative participation toward enabling all community members to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect their lives.
Community members may have questions that the government and coucillors cannot answer at the time. The better strategy would be for the councillors to address these questions specifically by reaching out to the communities and conduct public meetings regularly. Councillors can hold meetings with responses to questions, the meetings should be facilitated in a way that will encourage participation in a constructive and considerate manner. The most important thing is to hear the community’s voices and acknowledge their contributions.
Recommendation four: Enhance the leadership capacity of community members, leaders, and groups within the community.
Leaders need to lead by example by being democratic leaders and open for new ideas. Leaders need to be responsive to address the existing compliance issues. By encouraging councillors to conduct outreach within their community, connect with individuals and groups, and continue to be open, responsive, and appreciative of comments and questions, the feedback on public meetings will be much enhanced if there is community leadership. There should be no corrupt activities, no discrimination, no nepotism or bribery so everyone should be treated equally and given a chance to influence decision making.
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