My #NGOs4Africa Campaign – Week Two Reflections

This blog covers the period from 16-22 July 2018.

The second week of my #NGOs4Africa Campaign is done. I published a number of interesting NGO profiles and articles on my blog, attended the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, which was delivered by former US President Barack Obama, and completed some tough training sessions in between.

During the past week, the 5th Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, and I used the event to provide focus and context for the organisations and issues which I covered with my campaign.

The OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. It was formally launched in September 2011, with South Africa as one of the eight founding members.

Open government, which is defined and characterised by increased transparency, citizen participation, and collaboration between government and citizens, is recognised as a critical driver of development. Governments that are more open in their conduct are better positioned to respond to the real needs of their citizens.

Unfortunately, despite endless declarations and commitments to open government, the conduct of local, provincial and national government in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa is more often than not characterised by increasing corruption, lack of service delivery, and the absence of public consultation and citizen involvement in decision-making processes. The lack of “open government” during the Zuma years resulted in significant “state capture” and corruption in South Africa, with far-reaching implications for the new government in responding to the current and historical challenges facing our country.

Various NGOs in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa are at the forefront of promoting the principles of open government, and implementing specific activities aimed at strengthening open government by exposing corruption, making government information open and accessible, and helping people hold their governments accountable.

I used the past week to profile seven African NGOs involved in open government issues. These include Corruption Watch (South Africa), Open Institute (Kenya/East Africa), BudgIT (Nigeria/West Africa), Afrobarometer (South Africa/Africa), Open Democracy Advice Centre (South Africa), Right2Know Campaign (South Africa), and Public and Private Development Centre (Nigeria/West Africa).

The work of these NGOs and many others across Africa need to be celebrated, supported and strengthened for open government to become a meaningful part of peoples’ lives.

I also published a profile on the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) to coincide with Mandela Day on 18 July 2018.

In terms of NGO analysis, I published an article by Irũngũ Houghton, Executive Director of Amnesty International Kenya, which reflected on civil society’s critical role in promoting and creating respect for democracy and human rights in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

I also introduced the third component of my #NGOs4Africa campaign, Sport 4 Good, which highlights the amazing efforts of people using their involvement and participation in sporting activities to make a difference in society. The first article focussed on Saray Khumalo and her efforts in support of Mandela Libraries and other causes linked to her Seven Summits with a Purpose climbing initiative.

It was another tough week of training for the Fire and Ice Ultra in Iceland, and for the fifth consecutive week, I ran more than 100km. I’m definitely getting fitter and stronger, and hopefully, I can get through the final few weeks before the race without any illness or injuries.

Looking ahead, I will profile a number of South African NGOs involved in human rights and social justice issues over the next week. I will also publish two more guest articles by prominent experts on the challenges and opportunities facing the NGO sector, and introduce the second Sport 4 Good profile focussing on an amazing woman who, in honour of her father who committed suicide in 2010, is using her passion for running to raise funds and awareness about depression and suicide.

Finally, a blast from the past. The two images below were taken during the 2011 Sahara Race in Egypt. I rate this as one of my three hardest desert races to date. The Sahara Desert is an unforgiving place, and as this was only my second desert race, I really struggled in the relentless sun and sand. To make things worse, on Day 3 I forgot to put on sufficient sunscreen cream, which resulted in bad burns with blisters all over my upper legs, and severe dehydration. Fortunately, I finished the race and became a much smarter desert runner because of the lessons learnt. Due to political unrest in Egypt, the Sahara Race has been held in the Namib Desert in recent years, and I hope it will one day return to its rightful place – the mighty Sahara Desert!




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