Community development workers as agents of change and conduit of authentic public participation: The case of Mpumalanga Province in South Africa

Sipho K. Mokoena, Kabelo B. Moeti


This article explores the role of community development workers (CDWs) in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. The CDWs are by law expected to regularly communicate, inter alia, government initiatives in a way which is easily accessible to community members. Literature shows that the CDWs forward concerns and issues on the service provided by national and provincial government in general, and local government to be specific. This article acknowledges that CDWs share the working space with Ward Committees who have a direct say in the planning, decision-making and project implementation that have impact on their respective wards. The question that this article attempts to answer is whether the establishment of CDWs in the country has achieved the desired result to the extent that it can be recommended for permanent incorporation in the local municipality structures. The research design used in this article was a qualitative method. Data were collected through extensive review of public documents, accredited journal articles, observations and interviews. The results showed that the CDWs coordinate teams of volunteers in community projects, coordinate teams employed on public works programmes, help communities develop and submit proposals for inclusion in integrated development plans to municipalities, and other spheres of government or donors. Furthermore, the roles and functions of both CDWs and Ward Committees do overlap. It is very difficult for the local communities to differentiate between these two structures.


community development workers; ward committees; local government; local municipalities

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Submitted: 14 February 2017
Published: 10 August 2017

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The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa    |    ISSN: 1817-4434 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2415-2005 (ONLINE)