SHOW US YOUR SOCIAL LICENSE!
A social license to operate (SLO) refers to the level of acceptance or approval by local communities and stakeholders of organisations and their operations. The concept of social license is closely related to the concept of sustainability. Municipalities therefore need not only regulatory permission but also “social permission” to conduct their business, and the responsibility to fully deliver on their mandate. SLO is created and maintained slowly over time as an entity builds trust with the community it operates in and with other stakeholders. To protect and build social license, companies and public entities are encouraged to first do the right thing and then to be seen doing the right thing.
For a government, regardless of whether it is at central, provincial, or local level, accountability essentially means that it must accept responsibility and that it is responsible for accounting to society for what has or has not been done.
Public accountability rests both on giving account and on being held to account. All government departments have to be efficient because they have to ensure value for taxpayers’ money. Efficiency encompasses the qualitative and value-laden expectations of the society. It can be argued that accountability is the fundamental prerequisite for preventing the abuse of power and for ensuring that power is directed towards the achievement of efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness, and transparency.
Open, transparent, and accountable government is an imperative prerequisite for community oriented public service delivery, because without it, covert unethical behaviour will result. Accountability and transparency are two particularly important requirements of quality public service delivery:
• Accountability: The obligation to give satisfactory explanation of one’s actions and behaviour, coupled with legal consequences.
• Transparency: Official action and conduct to be honest and open so as to enhance public accountability.
Accountability and transparency are therefore two sides of the same coin.
As community spaces are shaped by a multiplicity of stakeholders, promoting good governance, and strengthening public participation are critical. Government needs to be accountable to, and understand its impact on all population groupings.
Therefore, at local government level, priority should be given to interventions aimed at promoting transparency and democratic decision-making. Innovative technology and other mechanisms should be used to build trust and increase transparency and accountability.
Any tier of government, whether national, provincial or local, cannot claim to represent or provide service delivery to the people within its area of jurisdiction as it is obliged to in terms of the Constitution, unless it possesses a Social License.
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