DDP Partner Liaison Officer Mbalenhle Mkhize opening the dialogue at Elangeni TVET College.
By: Sphamandla Mhlongo
As an organization, we still believe that part of our values is the concept of collaboration – as we think that the work of building and sustaining our democracy and the principles enshrined in our constitution is not for and about the individual. The sum of our combined efforts is much greater than any one of us can achieve.
Whilst we have a deep understanding of the ways in which civil society is able to mobilise and agitate for change, we assert that part of our work in 2020 will be to ensure the effective participation of political parties, towards entrenching a culture of openness, transparency, accountability and cooperation. Our efforts have unfolded in the first quarter and have laid a reasonable ground for us to further continue our success.
For the first quarter, the organization has largely been able to conclude the finer parts of its conceptualization process, particularly for its new interventions like Student dialogues.
Main activity (ies)
This program includes a series of community dialogues hosted by DDP Associate Facilitators in different communities in the KwaZulu Natal region. This program was initiated in 2017 and has played a huge role in preparing our communities/ partners for the 2019 Elections.
After the successful appointment of Mr Shakes Baleni as the Civic Education Dialogue facilitator tasked with the delivery of the work in this aspect, he set about in creating the relevant workplan in consultation with the Senior Programs Officer. He has thus far completed 2 dialogues, (in Umkhanyakude District Municipality’s Umhlabuyalingana, and eThekwini’s Clermont township). Both these dialogues we conducted with the assistance of local community based-organization and equally well-attended.
Both areas have a history of political activism and participation, with Umhlabuyalingana having had significant uprisings the very week before the hosting of the dialogues. The protest in the area had been in respect of car thefts and hijackings that were alleged to have co-opted the police in the area- the community was demanding an audience with the Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele so that swift action would occur.
Both dialogues were well-facilitated and appeared to speak to the issues that the community was still grappling with in respect of human rights and service delivery.
Local Government Dialogues
DDP partnership with UMAC Youth Empowerment convened a local government dialogue themed: Count us in on service delivery. The dialogue was held on the 27 February 2020, at Umzamo Clinic, at KwaSanti near Pinetown.
The dialogue is the latest in a series of engagements hosted in the community towards creating better linkages between the community, the political elected leadership, and the municipal administration. This dialogue enabled the community to assess the progress of work done in resolving issues related to poor services at clinics, and the lack of servicing in the area when it comes to waste management and other issues.
The dialogue provided both communities and invited speakers the ability to connect, air their views, and be held accountability in arears of responsibility. This is an important platform towards building communities in the true sense, and ensuring continued accountability, particularly as we edge closer to the 2021 Local government elections.
Tertiary institutions have the ability to be a real driver of change in the country- the way we choose to engage and think about students, will determine the nature of that change(positive/negative).
As an organization, we recognize the need to engage and learn from young people and what role they see themselves playing in the building of a democratic culture – particularly in view of the youth’s glaring absence from the polls in the 2019 national and provincial election.
The program, ably led by DDP’s Partner Liaison officer, has been able to recruit a core of 4 capable facilitators with experience in working with these institutions and has also partnered with our Pietermaritzburg(PACSA) and Clermont(Sakhisizwe and Clermont Youth Centre) based partners in the execution of the first 3 dialogues.
The first dialogue conducted was in Clermont, at eLangeni College; the 2nd in Pietermaritzburg at the DUT campus, and the recent one was hosted at Mangosuthu University of Technology residence in South Beach.
Above Standing: DDP's Sphamandla Mhlongo, and Mbalenhle Mkhize.
Front: Prof. Bheki Mngomezulu Director of CANRAD at the Nelson Mandela University, DDP's Executive Director Dr. Paul Kariuki and Dr. Lubna Nadvi, Senior Lecture at UKZN, during the DDP SONA2024 Public forum in Durban.