Community participation and service delivery: perceptions among residents in Cape Town
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The aim of this article is to examine public perceptions of community engagement with local government, on the one hand, and public perceptions of service delivery on the other. It does so through an analysis of data from a qualitative study comprising in-depth focus groups with local residents from four areas in the Cape Town Metro. In this article, we explore the diversity of views and motivations among residents regarding the need for engagement with local government. We consider a possible link between the interest in improved engagement and levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with service delivery. Our findings indicate that, whereas levels of satisfaction with services vary across the focus groups, an overwhelming majority of all participants noted a lack of engagement between residents and local government. Furthermore, interest in improved engagement with local government varied among respondents, with perceptions of service delivery influencing on this interest positively, negatively or not at all. Thus, interest in engagement is sometimes influenced by, and sometimes independent of perceptions of the quality of service delivery. This reveals the diversity and complexity of governance across South Africa's cities, as well as the importance of factors such as trust in government officials.