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Citizen engagement in South Africa: the case Prince Albert

Vinitha Siebers (Het Zijlstra Center for Public Control, Leadership and Governance, School of Business and Economics, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 13 August 2018

Issue publication date: 19 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to gain insight in how South African local governments organize citizen engagement. The new South African constitution provides ways to construct and implement citizen engagement at local level. However, understanding citizen engagement at local level is still a challenge and municipalities search for proper structures and mechanisms to organize citizen engagement efficiently.


Interviews with different municipal actors were analyzed using a single case study method. As a primary unit of analysis, a specific project in which citizen engagement is organized was used. In addition, document analysis and a focus group were used to deepen understanding.


The findings reveal that citizen engagement is a viable strategy to identify the needs of the community if facilitated by a third party and that learning leadership is important when organizing citizen engagement.


The value of this research is the exploration of the citizen engagement process. It sheds light on the conditions that play a role when a local government organizes citizen engagement. As local governments search for ways to effectively organize and structure citizen engagement, insight into these conditions is helpful.



The author hereby would like to thank Professor Erwin Schwella and Dr. Dirk Brand from the School of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, for their feedback and contribution to the research.


Siebers, V. (2018), "Citizen engagement in South Africa: the case Prince Albert", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 232-244.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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