South Africa

A group of eight people posing for a picture

South Africa

Introduction
South Africa’s most marginalised communities face major obstacles in accessing elected representatives to engage about their challenges. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play a vital role in supporting communities to attain this democratic right.

In areas of public health and public safety, CSOs often can be a way to connect communities and provincial departments. This does not always bring the results that communities demand. Working more closely with legislatures, enabling ordinary people to explain the issues they face, and raising public awareness of the problems they are confronting strengthens democracy.

For CSOs, this role had not been explored much. Not only were the issues faced by communities varied and complex, but organisations also faced limitations in capacity and knowledge about engaging with provincial representatives.

From 2018-2020, Democracy Works Foundation, in partnership with Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and with co-funding from the European Union, supported improved engagement between provincial legislatures and communities in the public health and public safety sectors.
Connecting Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) with CSOs

The programme provided training and mentoring on how to conduct research and engage the public in important issues.

By connecting Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) with organisations working to advance the rights of women and traditionally marginalised groups such as young people and persons with disabilities (PWDs), the programme ensured relevant policy areas are better represented at the provincial level.

The programme was implemented in three provinces – Limpopo, Northern Cape, and North West – and worked with MPLs on provincial Portfolio Committees, which are responsible for health, safety, and security issues.

Key results

Improved the ability of selected CSOs to respond appropriately to relevant proceedings of the Provincial legislatures

Enhanced participation of civil society organisations in Provincial legislative oversight processes

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South Africa