Democracy, Voter & Civic Education

In 2012 the NDP ignited the national imagination with its possibility to regain the fervour and spirit of South Africa’s can-do attitude. The NDP remains a hopeful and visionary document, despite its shortcomings.

The process of its development is the result of a concentrated national discussion with people to help shape its growth and development trajectory — what the academics call “collaborative rationality”. That year was a time when government spoke to its people and shared the dreams we all have: socioeconomic dignity for all (not only some) and for young people to dream the next chapter of the South African story. In this way the NDP invoked the idealism of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) of 1996.

Given the noble intentions, it’s important for us to be a more sober in our reflection, the thousands of service delivery protests across the country tell their own story of broken dreams and the palpable anger towards the state in all its permutations.

An increasing number of young people not employed is a terrifying number that must shake us out of the inertia and disconnected implementation plans.

South Africa is one of 134 countries globally, which have national development plans. Eighty percent of the global population lives in a country with a national development plan. We are not unique in planning. But perhaps we are unique in that our plans have not yielded nearly enough fruit.

DDP, as a value enshrined in its work and ethos, believes that most of those work requires the strengthening of partnership networks in the civil society sector, which then leads to concrete efforts that can be undertaken in different communities- these efforts, because of the diversity of skills, resources and positions, have the ability to yield deepened impact in the building of sustained constitutional democracy.

The intervention relies primarily on our community building methodology which places value and importance on existing knowledge, skills and gifts of participants; which is something that shows the extent of our belief that democracy should be citizen centred. Plenary sessions will be had in order to give greater emphasis on areas of contention, confusion or interest. This process is unique in it’s exploration of our intention to combine materials that we’ve developed over the years, which include, but are not limited to: Vision 2030: Imagine our best future; Democracy and You; Citizens guide to political life in South Africa; and The partners in Transformation workshop material amongst others.

The objectives of the intervention are:

  • To improve understanding of the fundamental principles and values underlying democracy in a society.
  • To engage in critical evaluation of South Africa’s development policies
  • To promote awareness of current issues and controversies relating to democracy.
  • To show participants that their participation can make difference in how democracy works in their country.
  • To foster justice, tolerance and fairness.
  • To develop willingness and an ability to resolve disputes and differences without resorting to violence.
  • To improve basic skills, including critical thinking and reasoning, communication, observation and problem solving.

a) The intended outputs from the intervention;

– Contracting of Civic Education facilitator

– Workshop on DDP tools on Civic Education, including NDP Vision 2030 and DDP Advocacy and Lobbying manual

– Engaging with local partners in preparation for each dialogue

– At least one dialogue per community, with room for follow-up in case this is deemed necessary from reports

– Report from each dialogue, with an overall progress report on milestones assessed and agreed upon

– Evaluation of intervention with facilitator and community partners

b) The expected outcomes from the intervention;

The intervention hopes to engage citizens and for the outcomes to be as follows:

– Strengthen citizen’s  abilities to analyze complicated social issues

– Connect and apply knowledge (facts, theories, etc.) from their areas to their own civic engagement experiences

– Connect and apply knowledge from their civic engagement experiences back to their communities, using these experiences to comprehend, analyze, and /or challenge theories and frameworks

– Clarify their civic identity

– Develop and expand their understanding of and capacity for active participation in a community

c) The targeted areas of intervention;

Broadly, this intervention will be conducted in KwaZulu Natal, with a focus on areas that have not been frequently engaged by DDP. This includes the South of KZN (including Port Shepstone and surrounds), North KZN (with a focus on uMkhanyakude District Municipality and Richards Bay) as well as parts of Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga province. Finally we will engage some of our already existing constituencies.

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