Civil society organisations played a crucial role in ushering in a new democratic era in 1994. These organisations provided support for democratic governance through social services to the underprivileged or enriching public discourse through primary research and insightful analysis of social policy problems.
“These organisations have been an integral part of the country’s policy making and service delivery landscape, often working under conditions of abject poverty.” says David Classen, ECNGOC Provincial Chairman.
The Eastern Cape NGO Coalition (ECNGOC) in partnership with stakeholders hosted a 3 day Provincial Dialogue Platform (PDP), March 4 – 6, 2014, in East London. The PDP reflected on Strengthening the NPO Sector through review of policy governing the sector in particular resource mobilisation through Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and strengthening meaningful public participation.
Former constitutional judge, Albie Sachs, who played a critical role in developing the SA Constitution delivered key note addresses on day two and three of the Provincial Dialogue.
At the CSI Launch in the evening of March 5, 2014, Albie Sachs reflected on the contribution made by OR Tambo saying; “The vision and ideology of OR Tambo was encapsulated into the SA Constitution”.
The 100 delegates representing business and the NGO sector, reflected on the country’s constitutional journey illumined by Albie Sach’s near 6o years of experience and expertise in the constitutional process. Using the art of story telling Albie moved everyone to grasp “the sacrifice” to ensure that “society can be governed by legislation that offers protection to citizens”.
The challenge to all delegates is; “… the SA Constitution as well as institutional arrangements are instruments that should be effectively utilised to ensure a society that is truly free and equal”.
The outcome of the evening was the launch of the Provincial CSI Programme championed by the Border Kei Chamber of Business and the EC NGO Coalition.
March 6, 2014, the last day of the PDP focused on meaningful public participation within the NGO sector. Albie Sachs focused on the role of citizens in engaging in policy processes and influencing legislation.
In the evening a public dialogue took place at the Guild Theatre, in partnership with the Daily Dispatch and the University of Fort Hare (UFH).
The dialogue was facilitated by Dr Mvuyo Tom, vice chancellor UFH. The focus of the key note address by Albie Sachs was on Nelson Mandela as “Leader and Friend, Lawbreaker to Lawmaker” and the significant contribution and insight into the evolution of the SA Constitution.
To ensure citizens participate in our society it must be bourne in mind that “…participation is crucial, not only to develop and strengthen democracy but to give it true meaning… participation may be the hallmark of a working democracy in a vibrant civil society”, proffers Classen.
Classen explains that; “it is therefore incumbent upon civil society to ensure extensive civic education” and that the ecngoc calls on all citizens to ensure the “country is citizen led and the people shall govern…”