Best social audit practices in public service delivery from selected countries: Lessons for the South African local government
This study is an exploration of best social audit practices in public service delivery from selected countries: Lessons for the South African local government. The study is vital in that the end of apartheid ushered in new sets of challenges in the country and one of these was the need for transformation which saw the birth of the 1996 Constitution which introduced Local government in South Africa which consists of the municipalities. Local government then emerged as the sphere of government closest to the people providing basic services. This is consistent with Part B of Schedule 4 of the 1996 Constitution, which mandates municipalities the responsibility for basic services. This is also supported by the White Paper on Local Government of 1998, the Municipal Structures Act, of 1998 and the Systems Act of 2000 which all explain on the need for the municipality to deliver services, yet many residents are not being served leading to service delivery protest to ensure that service are delivered and others turning to social accountability mechanism such as social audits to improve governance and accountability. This study aims to discover knowledge of best social audit practices from selected countries, aims to describe the best social audit practices and methods of selected countries practicing social audits such as Canada, India and Kenya; outline the challenges of social audits from selected countries and discusses the significance of social audit and methods of selected countries. To achieve this goal the study employed a qualitative research approach and collected data from websites, journals, articles and information on local government in South Africa. The study is both descriptive and exploratory and does not intend to provide conclusive evidence but helps us to have a better understanding of the social audit concept. The study found that the social audit concept yielded considerable and positive results in the selected countries and led to an increase in accountability, participation and transparency, led to an improved service delivery and were effective in detecting corruption and irregularities. It also found that there were challenges relating to social audits like the lack of access to reliable information, the intensive nature of the audit process, the threatening of social auditors and the lack of cooperation within the social audit process. This study suggests that the South African local government sector, explores the social audit concept and process, learn from the challenges relating to social audits, amend its legislation to align with international standards and further strengthen legislation in order to ensure that enabling legislation exists for social audits to operate within. This research provides insights into the social audit concept and its application in selected countries as lessons for the South African local government sector.