‘Public participation and environmental law: A South African perspective’
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The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa ‘despite being one of the world’s most liberal constitutions, South Africans still have no transparent and participatory mechanisms for deciding democratically on the uptake of new technologies or development projects, even those which impact on millions of lives and livelihoods. There are limited opportunities for intervention in very circumscribed public participation processes, which are often derisory in the sharing of any sovereignty with citizens in the name of producing better public policy. When citizens are left out of debates confined to government and the business community, the only means of influencing policy is to petition, protest, or litigate, usually after the horse has bolted.’ Public participation is a very delicate issue in South Africa due to the history of the exclusion of certain people from the process of governance. When governments and business sectors make decisions about land development and natural resources, they certainly impact on the health, livelihoods and quality of life of local communities.