In line with the concept of particaptory democracy, every effort ought to be made to create spaces for public involvement in policy making. So when the executive begins the process of policy development they must provide scope for public comment which must be seriously considered. The executive already does this when it allows comment on green papers. The product produced after public consulatation about the green paper is called the white paper. The white paper is what is sent to parliament where it is molded into legislation which parliament must decided to adopt, amend or reject. The executive should seek to provide space for public comment on the policies it develops in particular from the communities that will be affected and from civil society, business and other experts which might provide an important perspective or bring greater knowledge and understanding of a particular policy idea and its prospective impact. Depending on the level of government and the nature of the policies being considered this may mean that public consultations forums are held in communities around the country. The executive may also advertise the policy being considered in newspapers and online and call for paper submissions to be sent to the relevant department. The department must consider the submissions and views of the people consulted and amend the policies accordingly. This is what happens in SA today although not always very effectively. E-tolls as a policy decided upon by government and SANRAL adopted similar measures but the extent to which they canvassed public opinion has been criticized as being insufficient to the public effect of the policy.
The legislature also provides scope for bills to be open to public submissions. The concerned Parliamentary committee may also call parties to give their views before the committee. The public is also welcome to view the deliberations of the parliamentary committee as they discuss Bill's and conduct their duties. These provisions are also a key part of our democracy allowing civil society organisations an important opportunity to affect government policy.
At a local government level, government must be even more responsive to people's opinions and even greater scope can be given to public consultation. At LG level public officials can be accessible to their constituencies in away that other levels of government can not be. Therefore there is the prospect of a continuous conversation between the government and the community in the conduct of the former's duties and the implementation of policy. Therefore public meetings and submissions can be utilized in the process of policy development as well, but the level of engagement ought to be ongoing, not terminating in the same way that engagement with national government must do. At this stage in our democracy, government has adopted the most realistic methods of ensuring public engagement in policy making. These methods need to be better implementated by making them more extensively and rigorously applied. As always the ideas in government are there, but the implementation is lacking.
Members of the public have a key role in holding government accountable. In our democracy, the practice of voting is the most important. In between elections though it is important that the public does not switch off. Government does not have a monopoly on wisdom. To make sure policies are developed and implemented in their favour the public must hold government accountable. They can do this be utilizing the means of consultation already described. They can also utilize protest action when they feel government is unresponsive. At a LG level the engagement on policy ought to be continuous as they community has direct access to the people in charge. Members of the public must be able to call their local councillors and mayors offices and comment on the conduct of their business and their policies. The IDP is an example of a policy that requires space to be provided for public consultation with the community being affected through public forums and submissions. These mechanisms are very important in ensuring that government policies are responsive to the actually needs of the people concerned, thus ensuring that positive effects of policies are magnified and negative effects are mitigated.