AfricaHuman Interest Stories

Street Committees Urged to Embrace Developmental Roles for Effective Governance

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – The time has come for a revitalization of Street Committees to unlock their potential for effective governance and service delivery. With a wide range of perspectives from experts and community leaders, it is evident that the purpose and roles of Street Committees need to be reviewed and redefined.

Street Committees, which were democratically elected committees created in the 1980s, were originally designed to address the needs and challenges of community members in their respective streets or areas. However, according to a study conducted by IGI Global Publishing House, the current configuration of Street Committees compromises their original purpose and turns them into partisan structures. This diversion from their intended function hinders their ability to unite people across different backgrounds and address key issues such as domestic violence, crime, and community disunity.

The study emphasizes the need to refocus Street Committees on their developmental roles and restore their inclusive local democracy. To achieve this, community participation and effective communication with local government departments, including police, social welfare, and infrastructure services, are essential. Furthermore, Street Committees should align their efforts with the community’s interests, free from political affiliations or agendas.

In the governance of underprivileged communities, the role of Street Committees has received little attention from both government and academic scholars. Martin Creaner, Director General of the World Broadband Association, highlights the limited power of Street Committees due to their non-statutory status. However, despite these restrictions, Street Committees have been acknowledged for their efforts in addressing pertinent issues in their communities.

Former Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, recognizes the importance of Street Committees in the fight against crime. He emphasizes the need for the involvement of civil society and the establishment of strategic partnerships with communities to combat criminality effectively.

To maximize their impact, Street Committees need to evolve into empowerment agencies that unite their communities and address various challenges. They can achieve this by running feeding schemes in collaboration with stakeholders and seeking solutions for the problems faced by residents. Effective communication with constituents, through social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp groups, will help disseminate information about job opportunities, workshops, seminars, and other developmental initiatives. Regular meetings in accessible venues can engage all residents in matters concerning their streets, while activities for different age groups can foster community bonding and social development.

By embracing their developmental roles, Street Committees have the potential to bring government and service delivery closer to the people, ensuring effective governance and improved living conditions.

Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Is a freelance journalist from South Africa.

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