A Right to be Heard: Citizen Participation, Democratic Rights and the Budget in South Africa
Citizens’ right to decide how their money is spent and on what it should be spent lies at the core of democratic citizenship. But that does not necessarily mean that it must be exercised only or even mainly in a formal participation forum convened by a government.
This is the key message of the South African experience in which a plethora of formal forums (on the spending side rather than on the formulation of the budget) has not been matched by a discernible increase in citizen participation in decisions, particularly of people in poverty who are the intended beneficiaries of most programmes in which citizens are meant to participate. This has important implications for strategies, which aim to enhance citizen participation in budget decision-making.
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