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.