The City as a Democratic Common

The City as a Democratic Common


Albie Sachs is the keynote speaker at the upcoming seminar “The City as a Democratic Common”. He will share is thoughts about ”Representative Democracy and Participatory Democracy”.


More info here.



Albert "Albie" Louis Sachs is an activist and a former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. After having his arm blown off by a car-bomb in Mozambique due to his opposition to apartheid, he fled to the United States, and currently resides in Cape Town, South Africa.


The City as a Democratic Common
Saturday 27 October 2018

10am to 4pm
Observatory Community Centre Rawson St, Observatory, Cape Town

The event is free RSVP at by the 24 October

In 2017, the Civic Action for Public Participation (CAPP) was formed out of a collective dissatisfaction with participatory processes which they felt were ‘problematic, unproductive, and tokenist engagements’ leading to a loss of trust in public participation. The loss of trust described by CAPP can be attributed to the idea that participation is more of a tick-box exercise, lacks important information, is technocratic and exclusive. As a means to frame a new form of participation, the civic-led initiative hosted a series of workshops in 2016 to co-create a manifesto for public participation which will govern engagements between local government and the community.

The manifesto lays out “principles of participation’”that include transparency, information, inclusivity and accountability, and that aim to address the issue of “problematic, unproductive and tokenist engagements”. In addition, the manifesto also includes a set of mechanisms which would ensure that public participation is successful.

We believe it is important to recognize the City as a Common. The principal function of the City is to be the common house of the people who live there, the place where social life is built, where the varying needs and interests of different people and groups are discussed and compared and where conflicts are managed – a process that is integral to the social life of a city.

In 2018, CAPP used the manifesto principles as a tool to develop a draft citizen-led bylaw as a tool to lobby local government to focus on participation reform. Building on the success of the drafting of the bylaw, CAPP organize a Seminar with two objectives:

  1. Building the capacity of Civic Organisations in public participation processes.
  2. Working towards a Civics Organization’s plan of action on public participation.

The seminar is organized in partnership with:

  • Development Action Group
  • Heinrich Böll Foundation



Civic Organisations and Public Participation

Leslie London, Patrick Melly, CAPP

Constitutional Court: difference between representative democracy and participatory democracy

Albie Sachs, former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa

A new Civic Participation Bylaw in Cape Town

Andrea Couvert, CAPP

The challenges of civic participation through experiences:
Clifton: Maidens Cove for all

Albie Sachs, Maidens Cove for all

Philippi: PHA Food & Farming Campaign

Nazeer Ahmed Sonday & Susanna Coleman, PHA Food & Farming Campaign

Princess Vlei: Managing a natural area as a common

Gary Stevard, Princess Vlei Forum

Observatory: Two Rivers Urban Park

Marc Turok, Two Rivers Urban Park Association

Woodstock: Social Housing

Bevel Lucas, Woodstock Resident Association

Observatory: The fight against the privatisation of public space

Tauriq Jenkins, Observatory Civic Association

Salt River: Heritage as a tool to build social relations

Shabodien Roomanay, Salt River Heritage Society

Bokaap: A new model for affordable housing

Jacky Poking, Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association

Lunch break

Website platform for Civic Organizations

Ryan Fester, Development Action Group

Activist guide to local government accountability

Keren Ben-Zeev, Heinrich Böll Foundation

Feedback and reflection from the morning: Which elements can help us to define the way forward for Civic Associations?

Co-design groups: drafting a plan of action for the next phase



Seminar invite


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