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Country overview South Africa

Date added: July 5, 2017

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South Africa offers wide spread ICT infrastructure in the country and adoption is high amongst the population. With greater ICT availability, there is a growing possibility for citizens to hold government accountable, by sending immediate feedback on service performance through digital technologies. The National Development Plan stresses the need to see citizen engagement as integral, supportive and incentivised with mechanisms to allow South Africans to ensure government actions are held to account.

ICT-mediated citizen engagement is still a novelty and in its infancy stage, but there are significant structural transformations within policy that are shifting the ways citizen engagement takes place in South Africa. The implementation of various mechanisms, both online and offline, are attempting to meet policy and constitutional priorities embedded within a democracy such as transparency, accountability, rule of law and responsiveness. The current policies, however, fall short in allowing marginalised citizens to use ICTs to strengthen their ability to persuade government to say implement absent service delivery.

This State of the Art report intends to provide a contemporary picture of citizen engagement in South Africa and the extent to which ICTs are contributing towards citizen participation with government. The paper is broken down into three sections:

  • the first section is an overview of government policies around citizen participation and a national overview on ICT-mediated citizen engagement.
  • the second section explores some of the emerging ICT-mediated spaces in South Africa
  • and the last section uses the theory of structuration to analyse digital state-citizen engagement.
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