A full description of the job is available here, but the Open Government Partnership is looking for a suitable candidate for the position of Regional Civil Society Coordinator. Reporting to the global OGP Civil Society Coordinator, the Regional Civil Society Coordinator will lead in building interest and excitement about OGP among civil society organizations in the region. The goal is to support active and effective engagement by civil society actors to push for and deliver on ambitious open government reforms. The core focus of the position will be on supporting civil society in Africa.
By the end of last year, the excitement around the South African fulfillment of its Commitments had become quite reserved – with the Independent Review Mechanism echoing the concerns of South African civil society that not much progress was made in the period between September 2011 and the end of 2013.
In spite of this reticence, the South African government chose to table renewed Commitments in London which will serve as the basis for our monitoring over the coming months. Though a more detailed breakdown will be provided later (ODAC is busy trying to ascertain the exact scope of the Commitments as we type…), here is a list of the governments ‘new’ tabled challenges as a quick reference point:
- COMMITMENT 1:Develop and implement an Accountability/Consequences
- Management Framework for public servants
- COMMITMENT 2: Establish Service Delivery Improvement Forums
- COMMITMENT 3: Mainstream Citizen Participation in the public sector
- COMMITMENT 4: Develop an integrated and publicly accessible portal of environmental management information
- COMMITMENT 5: Development of an On-line Crowd sourcing tool that will allow the public to submit data on Protected Areas and Conservation Areas.
- COMMITMENT 6: Implement the Schools Connectivity Project
- COMMITMENT 7: Human Settlement Project (to be expanded)
South Africa has released the new action plan in preparation for the OGP summit in London, November 2013. OPG booklet
The Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) endorsed the findings of the Independent Review Mechanism on the Open Government Partnership today. “We feel that the report correctly reflects the situation on the ground. According to the report our government has not been able to initiate significant innovative activities aimed at driving transparency and service delivery. We are obviously disappointed by this”, said Alison Tilley , ODAC’s head of advocacy.
Click here to download the full IRM-South-Africa-Progress-Report.
The report recommends, firstly that partnerships with civil society should be formalised in order to reduce the level of mistrust that characterizes their relationship with government. The report says: “the next action plan should focus on how government relates with CSOs, community-based organizations, and communities at large. Without this strong trust, tensions within communities will continue to build up, which could lead to escalation of service delivery protests in the country.”
Secondly, the report recommends that the OGP should be publicised better. “One of the challenges with the OGP in South Africa is that the initiative is not sufficiently publicized. While some CSOs are aware of the OGP and have been tracking the initiative (e.g. ODAC, SANCOGO Western Cape), quite a number of the relevant stakeholders are not aware of the OGP and what it involves”, the report states.
Lastly, the report questions the quality of the commitments made in terms of the national country plan. The report states that, “a number of South Africa’s commitments involve pre-existing activities, and their fulfillment does not require a new set of activities to take place.” The OGP is intended to ‘stretch’ governments in relation to transparency and accountability. The commitment made by government around an environmental information portal is one commitment that does involve ‘stretch’, and we look forward to both the public and private sector embracing the idea of making information around water, minerals, mining and so on, more available to the public.
The Department of Public Services and Administration have announced that they will be hosting a civil society round table in Cape Town on 11 September. The meeting precedes the OGP Conference in London which will be held in October, and will hopefully include discussions on the results of the South African IRM process.
The meeting will be held at 9:00 am at the Southern Sun Hotel in Cape Town. For more information, you can contact the Department through 012 482 2453.
Though things have been a bit quiet in relation to progress in the OGP commitments, we have been informed that the Independent Review Mechanism process for South Africa is now complete (you may remember we were interviewed under the review mechanism in April). We will distribute the report, and our response, soon amongst these pages! This report will serve to help us – in a considered manner – strategically consider how we hope to engage in the OGP process moving forward.
Read an interesting insight from Martin Tisne at his blog on some strategic considerations in relation to the OGP:
“I worry that civil society advocates working on Open Government Partnership are making a tactical mistake.
There has been a lot of activity – rightly – around which OGP countries should be ‘in or out’. There were discussions in the past year around South Africa’s media bill (the so called ‘secrecy bill’) and whether it might impact the country’s OGP eligibility. Most recently the discussion has centered on Russia’s decision to ‘postpone’ its entry into OGP. Many had informally questioned whether Russia should have been eligible in the first place.
Whilst important, such a strong focus on eligibility misunderstands the nature of the Partnership. The Open Government Partnership is not a ‘good performers’ club’. If it was, it would entail setting a high bar for entry and focusing civil society attention on getting new countries in to meet the entry standard and monitoring those that fall behind with a view to expelling them. OGP is different”….Continue reading at his blog here.