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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.

View pictures here

All our rights should be for all our people

By: Dr Paul Kariuki

 
 South Africa has come a long way since 1994 as far as civil liberties are concerned. 

Our Constitution is hailed as the most progressive in the world, and it recognises the importance of redressing past injustices as a result of apartheid. Indeed, the government has done remarkable work in ensuring that the rights of citizens are protected through the law and legal instruments and mechanisms by various chapter nine institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Gender Equality and the public protector, to name just a few. Although this progress is laudable, many citizens still struggle to access basic services.

Stated differently, although individual rights abound, structural inequalities continue unabated. 
In theory, socioeconomic rights are available to all citizens; in practice, only a few enjoy them.

This phenomenon has shaped the human rights discourse in South Africa, where access to these rights and the exercising of those rights are strongly inflected by race and class. These two elements of societal structure continue to lend weight on who accesses these rights. It is a travesty of justice in a post-apartheid era.

Socioeconomic rights are basic rights that every citizen should enjoy, irrespective of their race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation, to mention a few. As a country that advocates for human rights, it is concerning that most citizens, especially the poor, live on the margins of society.

Despite the poor economic conditions, resulting in widening inequality and unemployment, there seems to be little impetus towards cushioning citizens from economic and other shocks that make accessing socioeconomic rights an impossible feat for many ordinary people.

Moreover, the country’s macroeconomic policies still tilt in favour of the affluent. One of the key questions that citizens should be grappling with is: Is the failure of economic policy a violation of human rights? In most instances, a failure of economic policy is perceived as a failure of the state, rather than a violation of human rights, because at the heart of a policy failure is a human being ­— a citizen who cannot afford basic services such as housing and water.

When water is commodified so that those who cannot afford to pay for it are punished, it is a travesty of justice. Water is a shared common resource and should be viewed as such so that every citizen can enjoy it.

In the same vein, housing should be made accessible to all. There is plenty of state-owned land in many local municipalities and it should be made available to meet this need.

Given the scale of these challenges, there should be concerted efforts from government to ameliorate the effects of being unable to access socioeconomic rights.

First, combat corruption in all its forms. Revelations from the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture and other commissions are concerning and shed some light on why providing basic services to citizens is still an uphill task for the government. There has to be a way of holding those mentioned in these commissions accountable for their actions as well as recovering the monies stolen from the public purse so that citizens can receive public services as provided for in the Constitution.

Second, the state must actively implement court orders to remedy the circumstances that bar access to rights for citizens. Any disregard of court orders is dangerous as it undermines our democracy and the role of the judiciary. The courts, given their broad constitutional powers, should be more innovative in developing their orders so that they can be properly implemented and enforced.

Third, civil society should continue advocating for better provision of public services to all citizens. The state’s failure to deliver adequately cannot be left unchallenged. A vibrant civil society that can hold the state accountable is critical for ensuring its officials are made to answer for their actions as far as maladministration of public funds is concerned. At the same time, the sector must be vigilant to ensure citizens’ aspirations are not only captured in the national and regional development plans, but are also acted upon and resources allocated to actualise them. And where such resources are misappropriated or under-spent, someone should be held responsible.

Furthermore, continued advocacy pressure by human rights activists on the structural power configuration in society is critical in ensuring political rhetoric does not provide room for the elite to continue enjoying public services at the expense of citizens.

Beyond the reality of unemployment, inequality and poverty, it is important to accelerate the pace at which basic services are provided to the most vulnerable in society. It is our collective responsibility as citizens to ensure that our hard-won democracy does not lose its legitimacy if only a section of the populace enjoys its fruits. As citizens we must not remain silent, neither should civil society be complacently “watching this space”. This is a clarion call — let’s unite against all forms of injustices that limit enjoyment of human rights in South Africa.

Click here to read the article on the Mail&Guardian website. 

 

Budget 2019: Citizens and civil society cannot afford to relax

Dr Paul Kariuki

Most people said the budget address by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was doom and gloom, as it confirmed the worsening state of the nation’s finances. The budget had little to inspire confidence, even though there will be no increase in personal taxes. With a shortfall in revenue collection, where will the state get the money it needs to uplift a struggling economy? Where will money come from to bail out ailing state-owned enterprises (SOEs)? Why did value-added tax remain the same when citizens are struggling?

Citizens are tired of lip service and are expecting greater clarity by the government of how it will fulfil the promises President Cyril Ramaphosa made during his State of the Nation address (Sona). 

Ramaphosa said his administration would cut down on government expenditure.

To appreciate government’s intention to respond to economic challenges and build citizens’ confidence in its plans, there are several decisive actions that the state must implement speedily.

First, it is important to reduce expenditure on SOEs significantly. It is unacceptable to continue investing in enterprises that are riddled with corruption, poor governance and a bloated workforce. The cost to the economy of running such enterprises is huge and unjustifiable given the social challenges facing the nation.

Second, the government must institute radical measures to manage public sector expenditure, especially its wage bill. The national treasury must set up independent treasury inspectors at the municipal level to arrest the high levels of financial mismanagement that often impede delivery of basic services. Unless tighter financial management controls are enforced the resource leakage will continue unabated, further draining the already strained local fiscus.

Third, citizens are observing closely the pace at which the revelations from the Zondo and Mpati commissions will be addressed. These inquiries continue to unravel new layers of corruption and theft. The proposed investigation unit within the National Prosecuting Authority will not let these revelations pass without decisive action and thorough investigation to ensure prosecutions do not collapse in court because of mishandling of useful evidence. More importantly, all monies embezzled from the fiscus because of dubious and shoddy dealings must be recovered speedily and redirected towards meeting the needs of citizens. At the same time, citizens expect the culprits to be prosecuted to promote the rule of law.

Fourth, there is a dire need to ensure high levels of competency in the public service to execute government programmes. It is imperative that the government pays attention to cadre deployment, which has always compromised the state’s capacity to deliver public services adequately. The economic cost associated with maintaining a not-so-competent staff complement is unaffordable in an ailing economy.

Fifth, given all the promises in the Sona, there is an expectation that the economy will not only grow but also create jobs to address unemployment and alleviate poverty. But implementation of government plans depends on ensuring that adequate revenues are collected so they can be reinvested in labour-intensive sectors to ensure the majority of the unemployed, especially young people, gain access to the mainstream economy and earn a living.

Sixth, the newly promised investments must be secured speedily so citizens can experience the benefits. The nation runs the risks of overspending when very minimal revenues go back into the treasury to support implementation of government programmes. The state must also work harder to ensure there are no risks of downgrades by rating agencies, which will create more havoc in an already struggling economy.

In conclusion, as South Africa heads to the polls, citizens will be careful in how they cast their votes. This is because they are desperate for change in their circumstances. With uncertainty in the growth and revenue forecasts, there is little assurance of generating adequate revenue. As such, citizens’s votes will be hard-won this time around. They won’t trade off their values for political favours. For this reason, citizens and civil society cannot afford to relax and watch the space. They will not endorse party positions that do not capture their aspirations or address the pressing challenges.

Citizens and civil society must return to spirited civic activism to ensure that the implementation of the Sona promises are sped up and depoliticised.  The state should expect enhanced civic activism aimed at ensuring that the interests of citizens are prioritised in its programmes at all levels of governance, irrespective of the state of the economy.

Dr Paul Kariuki is the executive director of the Democracy Development Programme, a national nongovernmental organisation headquartered in Durban. The views expressed here are his own. 

Click here to read the article on the Mail&Guardian website. 

 

 

 

 

 

CIVIL SOCIETY WELCOMES THE SIGNING OF POLITICAL PARTY FUNDING BILL: CITIZEN PRESSURE CAN END CORRUPTION

By Dr Paul Kariuki: DDP Executive Director

The last 12 months have been anxiety-causing months for African countries. We have seen economic turbulence, a rise in social injustices because of poor economic and political governance in most countries as well as an increase in unemployment, especially among young people. In many ways, it has been a year of economic unpredictability and political upheavals.

Notably, most of the elections conducted this year across the continent, were held in very unpromising contexts, characterized by flawed processes, resulting in controversial outcomes Arguably, many of the gains made in the early 1990s, came under threat from governments with little commitment to democracy. But while 2018 presented evidence of the danger of democratic backsliding on the continent, it also saw a rise in citizen activism supported by civil society advocacy efforts. One of the results from these sustained civic and citizens action is the signing of the Political Party Funding Bill.

Whilst the signing of the Bill by President Cyril Ramaphosa is welcomed and historic, all eyes are on its implementation by Parliament. All political parties now by law, required to disclose their sources of private funding. There is no doubt that its implementation will enhance accountability and transparency of South Africa’s political and electoral system. Interestingly, the Bill has been signed at a time when the nation is grappling to understand the BOSASA scandal, juxtaposed in between the State Capture inquiry and the VBS Bank scandal. All these events in the recent months have left the citizenry riling about the gross depths of corruption in the country and the missing checks and balances to mitigate against such a negative trend. Infact, the recent release of Corruption Perception Index (CPI), by Transparency International, confirmed that countries around the globe need to do more if they are to win the fight against corruption.

According to the report, most countries are failing to curb corruption. South Africa ranked number 54 in 2008 falling to number 71 in 2017. Whilst corruption is not a South African phenomenon alone, it is a global concern and calls for a collective citizenry-centred action to hold those in leadership accountable for their actions. This said, the assenting of the Bill by President Ramaphosa, is a step in the right direction, signalling the change that the citizenry is longing to see.

However, the onus now is on the Parliament to speed up processes leading to its successful implementation. However, the timing of its release may not have been not ideal, since political parties do not have enough time to declare their sources of private funding, give their spirited attention to campaigning for votes and the fact that Parliament is still on recess. Whilst the law is not effected yet, political parties are not prohibited from disclosing the sources of their private funding. Infact, doing so before the national and provincial elections, would most likely secure votes from the electorate as it spells a good sign of faith. Nevertheless, it is a welcomed progress towards stemming corruption in the country. Moreover, the Bill stills needs further scrutiny to address any potential loop holes that hamper its original intent – to foster transparency and accountability.

Civil society will continue with its advocacy mission to ensure loop holes are attended to and closed and the legislation process is speeded up without any further delay. At the same time, the sector urges the citizenry to exact pressure on their political parties to declare their sources of funding as part of their manifesto conversations with them.

Overall, our young democracy is maturing fast despite the challenges it is facing. With concerted effort as a society, there is a greater chance of ensuring the ideals of an inclusive country envisioned in our world-acclaimed constitution are realized. Our hard-won democracy, that our founding fathers and mothers, fought hard secure and liberate our country from every form of indignity, demands decisive action against all forms governance malfeasance. Corruption cannot continue unabated neither can youth unemployment be ignored among other pressing challenges. Simply stated, the nation needs an inspiring economic vision, one that is inclusive and promises to lead towards sustainable growth. There is a lot to be done and time for collective action is now. It is in our hands!

 

This article was published on the City Press, Sunday 10 February 2019. 

Civil society in 2019 — the year of redemption and renewal

By: DDP Executive Director Dr Paul Kariuki

In 2018, civil society observed a rise in civic activism, a spirited effort by ordinary citizens that challenged the status quo in many ways, demanding better services from government at all levels of governance as well as holding it accountable for its actions and decisions.

As result, the nation saw numerous Cabinet reshuffles and resignations, the establishment of commissions of enquiry, as well as a scrutiny of government promises and decisions on politically sensitive issues such as the land question.

 

This year is a critical one for the country; there are expectations for the government to deliver on last year’s promises concerning job creation and the promotion of good governance in the public sector, including municipalities and state-owned enterprises.

Civil society expects speedy implementation of policy decisions that were promised last year, especially with regard to the Public Audit Amendment Bill 2018, which gave the auditor general Kimi Makwetu authority to act against public officials implicated in the misappropriation of government resources.

In his report, Makwetu noted that government’s irregular expenditure had reached R50-billion, five times more than the total in 2017. The nation has hailed the Bill as an extraordinary step towards fighting corruption, and its implementation may turn the tide of state misappropriation of finances, providing a glimmer of hope.

The media played a significant role of enlightening South Africa’s citizens on several such issues. It is prudent to expect the media to sustain its citizen education project with responsible and ethical journalism.

Click here to read full article