The South African government has submitted its Self Assessment of the OGP Commitments, which can be downloaded here: OGP Final Self-Assessment Report. Now that we have finally been given details about actions taken, we can begin in earnest our monitoring of implementation of specified Commitments, which will be done through this website.
Alison Tilley, the Executive Director of ODAC, has however preliminarily reviewed the Assessment and found it ‘wanting’ in this commentary:
“We have received a copy of the South Africa Open Government Partnership Self assessment report, on Monday the 22nd of April. Given the limited time frame before the Steering Committee meeting, we will comment only on the most important issues.
We do not wish to canvass this issue again in detail. A full record of the on again, off again nature of this process is outlined in detail on here.
Our timeline on the consultation process records that on the 18 August 2011 ODAC and other partner organisations were forced to write an open letter, published in the newspapers, to the President to try and establish the progress on the Commitments and how public participation is being facilitated, after direct approaches to the President’s office failed. The Department of Public Services and Administration sends ODAC a copy of the Action Plan that was be lodged at the OGP summit in New York on the 9 September 2011, to which we responded.
We note that the government held meetings with the SANGOCO executive and an ‘extensive two day workshop’ with the SANGOCO national office and representatives of the 9 provincial affiliate structures, which it felt adequately represented civil society.
We note the government claim that the National Planning Commission (NPC) process, resulting in the National Development Plan, was undertaken in June to August 2011, and formed part of their planning on OGP. We acknowledge that extensive consultation was undertaken by the NPC, but would suggest that this was a consultation on a different issue, not on the OGP.
We also note with concern that it took from September 2011 to December 2012 for cabinet to approve the plan.
The overall process with civil society around the OGP can best be summarized by a senior staff member of SANGOCO. His frustrations are captured in this email of the 7 November 2012:
As someone who is also frustrated with OGP I thought I must also raise my serious concern with the slow pace and cancellation of OGP meetings and I must also say this treatment to Civil Society sector is unacceptable and we reject such attempts.
I think it should noted and be recognized by all in sundry that indeed Civil Society are a critical stakeholder in the national and international landscape and refuses to be sidelined or suppressed in processes that has to look at shaping the development trajectory of our country. To this end, we must also inform those who think we don’t know that we are aware that the Deputy Ministry and her entourage are attending an International event convened by the Transparency International, and the Conference is on Anti Corruption and Good Governance in Brasalia. I was wondering how they will deal with the question if asked and to report on how Government pursues work with Civil Society Organisations if we keep on receiving such ill treatment from your Ministry. I’m interested how the response will be dealt with taking into account of our continued frustrations with this process.
We need to reiterate that this time around we would not entertain nor accept any further changes to this planned and important meeting. This meeting is long overdue and necessary so as to deliberate and comment on Government Open Government Partnerships strategies and other proposals and we have to form part of such processes.
Last but not least Government has to ensure they allocate budget to cover for travelling and other program’s expenses. There should be no excuse in the future of civil society participation in OGP processes especially in attending such crucial stakeholder meetings.
I will attend this meeting and would require transport to enable my attendance and hoping that you will treat this response with respect it deserves.
Further frustrated comment on the pattern of postponements of meetings was made by COSATU, the largest trade union structure in South Africa, in response to one of the postponements of meetings in November 2012 [message excluded].
We note that we attended the first roundtable meeting in Cape Town on the 12 April 2013, and welcome this meeting, together with the meeting in Durban, as an attempt to begin consultation with broader civil society. We look forward to the establishment of a joint civil society/government steering committee.
An interesting aspect of the report is the emphasis on the use of Community Development Workers as part of the consultation process, in three provinces. As public servants, they cannot be described as civil society. However, we applaud the efforts of the government to spread information on the OGP through these structures.
1) Develop a Citizen Participation guideline for Public Sector departments that would ensure that every public sector department across all spheres have a functional, resourced and capacitated citizen engagement unit which regularly and proactively engage with civil society.
The citizen participation guidelines having been developed is a welcome move forward. We look forward to the government sharing these guidelines with us.
2) Formalise partnerships with civil society organisations in all nine provinces to establish Service Delivery Improvement Forums (SDIFs) at local level to provide timely citizen report cards on service delivery levels at community level, especially in relation to primary health care, water, sanitation, environmental management and housing.
No SDIFs have been established. We encourage progress on this important commitment.
3) Enhance the capacity and capabilities of communities to access and claim their socio-economic rights through the roll-out of national public education campaigns, specifically a public outreach campaign on Know Your Service Rights and Responsibilities (KYSR&R) to inform citizens about their service rights, responsibilities, and legal mechanisms available to hold government accountable.
We welcome the ongoing distribution of booklets.
4) Enhance national integrity through institutional capacity-building of National Anti-Corruption Forum (NACF) and Anti-Corruption Hotline.
The Department appear to have reworked this commitment, as a commitment to train officials in anti corruption work, which they have done. However, there has been no capacity building of the NACF, which has in fact not met in some time. The last summit was in 2011, and as we are represented on the NACF, we can confidently say that no meetings have taken place in the last year. We cannot comment on the Anti Corruption Hotline.
5) Approve guidelines on sanctions for corruption related cases.
To our knowledge, no guidelines have been released.
6) Enhance the involvement of civil society at every stage of the budgetary process across all spheres of government to enhance the progressive realisation of socioeconomic rights and enable citizens to track public expenditure.
We recognize and comment the excellent ongoing work by the Department of Finance in this regard.
7) Explore the feasibility of establishing a single agency mandated by Government to develop a comprehensive and publicly accessible portal of environmental management information.
This Commitment has not been addressed. The issue of establishing a portal was referred to the Minister for the Environment, but no progress has been made. Progress on the Department of Water Affairs making the Blue Drop Reports available, which deal with water quality, and a Provincial initiative around environmental information, are not a portal of environmental information established by a single agency.”