A more strategic partnership to strengthen our democracy

By: Jais Mbewe 

With the end of apartheid in 1994, most civic organizations and regional organizations went into sleep. However, due to the changing nature of the challenges which are now mostly the lack of proper understanding by the citizens of how democracy works; a significant problem is consistently posed, of how the citizens can hold its government accountable and most importantly is how people can put a demand on the constitution for proficient service delivery.

This new situation means that civic organizations or NGOs are more and more beginning to reconsider how best to meet the challenges that South Africa is faced with and Partnering is one vital thing that should be prevalent. 

On April 3, 2018, DDP conducted a three day stay-in workshop with its partners at Blue Marlin Hotel to specifically strengthen partnerships and train facilitators for civic education dialogues. It was such an excellent workshop of skills enrichment of how to facilitate a dialogue and a practical display of how to do it by Mr. Brian Bhengu.

It suffices to mention that Spring-Board Ministries has immensely benefited from the programs by DDP. Ours is to advocate for safer communities with a strong bias towards the rights of children through programs, research and writing material that enhances child development. However, we have been able to reach more adults through the children.

It is common knowledge that facilitating a dialogue that involves children can be quite challenging; it is much easier to do the obvious which is to sit them down and give them a lesson.

On the contrary, we have learnt the art of conversation, which is Listening – Reflect – Enquire – Speak.

“Ukushisa Impepho” translated as burning incense is the Zulu phrase which has become synonymous with Protest activity. The phrase denotes people burning tiyers and property for attention from those who are perceived to be far from the people they govern. This model has been a feature of the South African space for decades.

 It goes without saying that protests are a great tool in creating awareness and highlighting issues faced by our communities. However, it is easy to mobilize people to march without a plan for what happens next and how to keep protesters engaged and integrated in the solution finding process. We need to strive to have both, marches and sober and yet robust dialogues that speak directly to the challenges and the short comings that we are faced with as a nation. There is a great need for our nation to learn the art of conversation.