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Push towards living the South African dream

By: Dr Paul Kariuki

South Africa is at a crossroads as the nation prepares for the elections on May 8. The elections find the nation, firstly, sandwiched between sluggish economic growth and energy security challenges that continue to pose a threat to our young, maturing democracy.

Secondly, the country has turned into a “commissions republic”, with the government making significant efforts to address the pervasive scourge of corruption and maladministration in the public and private sectors.

Thirdly, the nation is tucked between public protests, largely about poor basic service provision, and information about corruption that is emerging from publications such as Gangster State by Pieter-Louis Myburgh. 

Even though the authenticity of information published in the book is yet untested, it nevertheless inflicts a measure of harm on the ruling party.

Corruption and service delivery failures mock Freedom Day, a significant day in our country’s history. They mock the meaning of freedom and the many years of struggle that ended the apartheid era. They mock the ultimate sacrifices made by our forefathers and mothers, who laid down their lives so that we could have a brighter future and enjoy the fruits of a new democratic dispensation. They mock our nation-building project, as articulated in the national development plan, a vision aimed at bringing prosperity to the country as well as the restoration of human dignity after decades of underdevelopment and exclusion.

Given the scale of challenges facing the country and the polarisation across racial, class and gender divides, the meaning of Freedom Day is eclipsed as the different realms of government struggle to deliver on their social contract with citizens.

The growing discontent among citizens is valid as the majority question the possibility of living the dream — a better life for all — again.

Interestingly, there is an awakened sense of active citizenship across the nation, as various sectors are starting to take their civic responsibility to hold government accountable seriously; demanding pragmatic responses from the various spheres of governance about their situations.

Workers are demanding better salaries and students are demanding free education. Activists are calling on government to respond decisively against all forms of prejudice and injustice that continue to mock our human dignity. Women and children are crying for safety and the protection of their lives in a highly violent culture. The struggle, indeed, continues.

So where to from here? To make sense of Freedom Day and its meaning, the above issues must be addressed conclusively. They require a concerted effort from all sectors of society, including ordinary citizens. Everyone has a role to play in building this nation. It is incumbent upon us as a nation to continue advocating for better public services provision and good governance at the very least.

Practically, true freedom means that every citizen must decide not to be passive any longer. If the state of the nation irks you, ask yourself: What must I do to make my environment better?

The nation must be delivered from its captors and every citizen has a role to play. Every voter must vote. Our power to influence the direction of the nation lies in our vote. It is imperative that every registered voter exercise their civic responsibility to ensure the nation returns to responsible governance and leadership.

We must learn to practise tolerance. We are not free as a nation if we cannot coexist peacefully with each other regardless of our racial, gender, class and economic backgrounds. Our hard-won freedom was founded on the principles of reconciliation. It is undemocratic to re-open racial and ethnic wounds. Racism and all forms of injustice can be overcome — it is in our hands as citizens.

Media freedom must be protected at all costs. This constitutionally guaranteed right to expression is a key tenet of a thriving democracy. Yet reporting must be done responsibly, without threatening citizens’ lives and livelihoods, in the face of the increasing incidence of fake news and propaganda. Citizens’ trust in the media wanes very rapidly when commentary is harmful and untrue. The loss of trust in reporting might do more harm than decades of repressive apartheid.

Every effort must be made to address the universal problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The nation isn’t free until these three enemies of a democracy are eliminated in our society.

True freedom means expanding opportunities to deserving students who were previously excluded from accessing higher education. 

Overall, the dream of a better future for all is not lost. As a nation, we must live in hope and overcome every form of cynicism about democracy. We are a resilient nation that has overcome many atrocities and injustices in the past. We must guard our hard-won freedom by upholding the rule of law and resist every temptation to regress to the hopeless political dungeon of the apartheid era.

Dr Paul Kariuki is the executive director of the Democracy Development Programme. These are his own views

Please click here to read on M&G Website 

 
 

DDP FORMER INTERN SHARES HER EXPERIENCE AS AN INTERN AT DDP

DDP former administration intern Samke Sithole shares her experiences as an intern at DDP and her journey to Korea in Asia…

What was the most profound experience whilst interning at DDP?

I started working as an admin intern for Democracy Development Program (DDP) in August 2018. Working at DDP was more than just doing internship, for me, it was a dream true. I remember that I had attended for the first time one of DDP's forums and I instantly knew that I needed to be a part of them. For me, what stood out then and continues to stand out is the level of professionalism, kindness and overall management the organization has, and to be able to stand and say I have been a part of that still, to this day, amazes me. Doing internship at DDP afforded me a great opportunity to not just work hands on in a professional environment but to also serve different communities in KwaZulu-Natal. I have always wanted a chance to work directly with the local communities hence my background in studying Community and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Being exposed to different kinds of civil societies who work together to facilitate change in South Africa has kept me inspired to continue serving on the ground and has created everlasting friendships.

I could not have done it without the mentorship of Dr. Paul Kariuki, who was open to listening to my story the first day I walked into his office requesting for an opportunity to volunteer. A year later , I was able to save enough funds from my DDP stipend and applied for an opportunity to go and teach English in South Korea. It is more than teaching a foreign language, it is exposing the Korean societies with the outside world and giving them a chance to interact with people who are different from themselves. It is part of community development, strategically designed by the Korean government for the people. I believe that I wouldn’t have been able to properly plan my days and lessons ahead had I not had the practice that I got from working with DDP. I am only flourishing in my current work environment because of the work ethic that was instilled from working tirelessly on DDP end of the year conferences and events.

 

What do you think are the two most powerful aspects of DDP's work that made a significant impact on you in understanding active citizenship and your role as a citizen?

One of the most powerful aspects of DDP’s work that has made a significant impact on me in understanding active citizenship will have to be the constant sharing of ideas, information and skills through relevant workshops that DDP offers to civil societies and individual citizens. It was through these networks that I, myself got to learn about DDP back in 2014. It is in spaces like DDP forums and workshops where one gets to hear and understand exactly what people on the ground think about situations that affect their everyday lives in South Africa. As a South African citizen, I am encouraged to always seek a better understanding and solutions from the so called “ordinary people" that we pass everyday.

The support provided by the DDP team to civil societies has also had great impact. I now understand the patience it takes working and supporting civil societies who in turn, support DDP as a whole as well. The importance of relationship building in order to build a strong society. Through working with DDP, I now know the skill of networking and using the right communication in building strong relationships. As a citizen, I am bold and deliberate about what I want and the environment provided by DDP allowed me to express myself openly and it shows everywhere I go.

A message for DDP team.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give". (Winston Churchill)

To all DDP team and partners, thank you for trusting me and  giving me an opportunity to serve under your guidance, it has added so much value in my life and the lives of people I work with.

I will always be humbled by the lessons that I've learnt in such a short period of time. The endless laughs and personal conversations we had at the reception, coupled with hard work and frustrations has only made me strong and has contributed greatly in my work ethic here in South Korea. In the mist of the endless workload, frustrations and not enough/too much RSVPs, I hope you never underestimate the change you bring to people’s lives. Always wear that smile, it makes so much difference and keep your eye on the ball.

 

LINDELANI YOUTH FORUM STORY OF IMPACT!!

By: Melusi Mahlaba

Through capacity building workshops and follow-ups meeting with provided by the Democracy Development Program (DDP), the Lindelani Youth Forum (LYF) organization have managed to achieve more in 2018. Below are the 2018 achievements.

According to the Founder and chairperson Melusi Mahlaba, LFY has been writing proposals left, right and center for the past 2 years, trying to raise funds for their organization.

“After we attended DDP capacity building workshops in the past years, the way we write our request for funding/support have positively change. We have been continuously in contact with DDP team for assistance and advises where required and they are always there to respond to our requests and advised us wisely.

Attending DDP stakeholder engagements has assisted us to have a better and formal way of engaging with our stakeholders and that led to the organization getting a R60 000.00 funding for 2018-2019 financial year from the Department of Social development”, said Mahlaba.

Melusi believes that with the assistance from DDP and other stakeholders and with the fundraising knowledge they have accumulated from DDP engagements/workshops, this has enabled them to raise and donate more than 300 sanitary pads to over 150 school girls in Mandlakazulu School as part of 67 minutes of Mandela deeds.

“We have been able to engage with different stakeholder around KZN and Created sustainable partnerships with them, which is also what is always been part of the workshops to make sure that whenever we meet new people we need to engage and create business relationships.

We met some of the stakeholders at the DDP events and we met some outside DDP but we always make sure we use learnings and strategies we learned from DDP to build those sustainable relationships”, he said.

He added that in one of the Civic educator’s engagements DDP invited the organization called HAND IN HAND SA and they engaged, they then assisted 10 of our beneficiaries with bursaries and the other 15 were assisted with employment opportunities.

 Melusi Mahlaba is a proud DDP Civic Educator and Associate Facilitator.

IZIMPILO ZETHU RECEIVES FUNDING FROM NLC

By: Sthabiso Mdledle and Fuzelihle Ngcobo

The National Lotteries Commission has granted project funding to Izimpilo Zethu, a community and youth-based organization that is situated in Ntuzuma township north of Durban.

“It has been a delightful journey working with Democracy Development Program (DDP) and other partners to reach this milestone”, said the organization Founder and Managing Director Fuzelihle Ngcobo.  

According to Ngcobo, the support and assistance provided by DDP in the form of Resources to do programs, Trainings, Workshops, Camps and Mentorship has opened several doors for his organization.

“You deserve all the credit for helping us grow to become the funding allegeable organization we are today. Our vision of Young people transitioning into adulthood in a cohesive and caring community, that has all the resources it needs to foster constructive social engagements and robust economic development is one step closer to becoming a reality.

We cannot thank you enough for our partnership,” he added.

Izimpilo Zethu was founded in August 2016 by Fuzelihle Ngcobo, a young person who saw a need for his community to grow it youth and to share his knowledge with young people in the area.

Since the formation of the organization, Ngcobo was introduced to DDP programs, such as the Citizen Engagement Program as well as the CSO Mentoring and Strengthening Program.

DDP is very proud of the impact it has in communities.

Fuzelihle Ngcobo is a proud DDP Associate Facilitator.

2018 LINDELANI YOUTH FORUM- A STORY OF IMPACT!!

By: Melusi Mahlaba

Through capacity building workshops and follow-ups meeting with provided by the Democracy Development Program (DDP), the Lindelani Youth Forum (LYF) organization have managed to achieve more in 2018. Below are the 2018 achievements.

According to the Founder and chairperson Melusi Mahlaba, LFY has been writing proposals left, right and center for the past 2 years, trying to raise funds for their organization.

“After we attended DDP capacity building workshops in the past years, the way we write our request for funding/support have positively change. We have been continuously in contact with DDP team for assistance and advises where required and they are always there to respond to our requests and advised us wisely.

Attending DDP stakeholder engagements has assisted us to have a better and formal way of engaging with our stakeholders and that led to the organization getting a R60 000.00 funding for 2018-2019 financial year from the Department of Social development”, said Mahlaba.

Melusi believes that with the assistance from DDP and other stakeholders and with the fundraising knowledge they have accumulated from DDP engagements/workshops, this has enabled them to raise and donate more than 300 sanitary pads to over 150 school girls in Mandlakazulu School as part of 67 minutes of Mandela deeds.

“We have been able to engage with different stakeholder around KZN and Created sustainable partnerships with them, which is also what is always been part of the workshops to make sure that whenever we meet new people we need to engage and create business relationships.

We met some of the stakeholders at the DDP events and we met some outside DDP but we always make sure we use learnings and strategies we learned from DDP to build those sustainable relationships”, he said.

He added that in one of the Civic educator’s engagements DDP invited the organization called HAND IN HAND SA and they engaged, they then assisted 10 of our beneficiaries with bursaries and the other 15 were assisted with employment opportunities.

 Melusi Mahlaba is a proud DDP Civic Educator and Associate Facilitator.

View pictures here