Assessing the level of participation in the regulation of African traditional medicines in South Africa: focus on African traditional health practitioners in the villages of Thembisile Hani local municipality in Mpumalanga
Vilakazi, Fikile Mabel
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This mini-thesis provides empirical evidence on the level of public participation and its correlation with trust, reciprocity, class and power amongst African traditional health practitioners (ATHPs) in the regulation of African traditional medicines (ATMs) in South Africa. Data on public participation of ATHPs was collected and analysed, using a social capital theoretical model created from an adaptation of Putnam’s (2000) concepts of trust and reciprocity as central to social capital theory. The analysis further employed Bourdieu’s (1968) thinking to link power and class to the concept of social capital and borrowed from feminist and historical materialism theories. The thesis sought to test how the analysis of power and class, once politicised, could be used to convert Putnam’s notion of trust and reciprocity into "critical trust” and “critical reciprocity”, based on hyper-reflexive engagement of social agents with their own reality within social networks. ATHPs were requested to rank themselves from a scale of high to low to determine their level of involvement. Public participation (the dependant variable) was tested against acts of reciprocity, trust, power and income or class (the independent variables) to ascertain correlation. Data was analysed using STATA, a computer-based programme for analysing quantitative data. The findings of the study showed that income and power play a significant role in determining public participation. The level of one’s income and power determines whether one is active or passive in participation. The high levels of trust and reciprocity demonstrated by ATHPs towards government had no particular significance in facilitating active participation instead trust, in particular, played a negative role, in that it demobilised ATHPs from active participation since they trusted that government will protect their best interest in the regulation process. The argument in this thesis is that trust and reciprocity has to be converted into ‘critical trust’ and ‘critical reciprocity’ through active questioning and analysis of power and class dynamics for it to activate and invoke conscious active participation. A follow-up study is necessary to test the possibility and success of such a conversion for public participation.