6. DOES PARTICIPATION AND DEMOCRATIC URBAN GOVERNANCE PROCESSES SET COMMUNITIES / OFFICIALS UP FOR CONFLICT?
The use of a city’s resources is always contested as cities must serve the needs of various groups, many with conflicting interests. Sometimes, for example in the City of Cape Town, these interests are not mediated and the city serves selected interest groups only. This approach does not avoid conflict it escalates it as tensions run high and anger builds up amongst those who are marginalised by the city’s policies.
In democratic urban governance role-players try to manage the conflicting interests through active participation. The conflicts of interest are still there but they are exposed and discussed and there is a greater chance of adopting policies that serve the greater good than the narrow interests of one or two groups. There are still tensions and disagreement but these are anticipated and expected as part of the process.
Since tension and disagreement is unavoidable role-players will need to develop strong communication and conflict management skills.