The WhatsApp group was created by community activist, Allison Adams, in 2021, where anyone can freely speak about politics. The group is not affiliated to any political party. “It is a neutral space where people can speak about politics. My personal goal and drive are to have all political leaders find a way to move beyond their political differences and work together for the community of Atlantis,” said Adams. At the group’s final gathering at the end of December, they addressed the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) process, as the deadline was during a period where most people was on leave. Against all odds, some members of the group went out and motivated people to become involved in the process. They hit the streets on Friday 31 December 2021 engaging Atlantis residents to sign the printed forms. Public participation is crucial to future spending A public participation process means that the community gets to have their say. “Never before have we seen any form of public participation widely advertised, and not just advertising in newspapers and online platforms, but actively driving the community to partake. We were merely members from the community that just wants to see true change happen,” said Adams. Some of the other active participants included Imelda Titus, Seymour Daniels, Louisa Solomon and Angelo Valentine. Ward 32 Councillor, Moosa Raise, was also actively involved in the process. His ward submitted 552 forms, while Ward 29 submitted 341 forms, all of which were handed over to the CoCT. “Public participation…is key to the successful delivery of services. IDP participation by residents is the most important part of this process in which the City’s future spending and service delivery actions are mapped over the short, medium and long-term,” said Raise. Ward 29 Councillor Allister Lightburn also supported the cause. “Having community members so passionately involved and eager to contribute to this sphere of government was exciting,” he said. A focuse d approach On the 2022 to 2027 IDP list were various items that the community could choose from, but only two items could be chosen on each level. Although everything will be included into the IDP budget, the community had the opportunity to voice what they felt had to be prioritised. Adams came up with a focused approach. “Instead of just driving the public to get more public participation on local level, we went out and actively lobbied for four specific points to support. On a municipal level, we`ve focused on safety and security, and inclusive economic growth to allow for small businesses to easier get established. Onward level we identified housing and also safety and security,” explained Adams. Raise thanked those have completed the IDP survey. “Special mention needs to be made of Alison Adams for her drive to promote this process in both wards to ensure that all residents give their comments. Such behaviour is commendable and appreciated.” Just another ‘box-to -be ticked-off’ process “It was overwhelming to see how so many people had the interest to have a say to how they would like to see the budget gets spent in Atlantis. To me this is how to empower our community, get the youth involved and roll out the importance of all that is happening,” said Daniels. Valentine had a different experience. “It was sad that so many people weren’t interested to even listening to us. I know the community is sceptic, but we are trying to make a change and with their support we believe we can,” he said. Youth Alive member Ryan Afrikaner, a teenager, said that he felt happy and grateful for the process. The final decision now lies with the CoCT, and based on past experiences the community definitely have their doubts. “My main concern is whether this is just not another smokescreen or whether the community’s voices or recommendations will really be heard. This shouldn`t be just another ‘box-to-be-ticked-off’ process because the decisions have already been made by the CoCT,” said Solomon. At the time of publication, it was not known when the City would sit to collate all the information. “I have arranged with our Public Participation Unit (PPU) to collect the completed forms from our Atlantis Sub Council. These are in turn taken to the PPU for capturing. It seems that housing and safety and security are the main concerns. I am waiting now on the PPU for a synopsis of the IDP survey and how the process will unfold,” said Raise.