This is a call for renewal of the South African NGO sector pledge and activism; it is a call to begin the long journey of re-uniting and revitalizing NGOs to reclaim their rightful place in the ongoing democratic project. We have to come out of this process with clear tasks for a strong, vibrant and dynamic NGO sector.
The gap created by SANGOCO’s organisational challenges and consequent weakening has thrust progressive unity and coordination of NGOs in particular and civil society generally into a historic crisis and disarray, which is felt across national discourse and developmental impetus so elaborately developed during the struggle against apartheid, and celebratory weaved into the new post-apartheid dispensation for an inclusive, participatory and accountable national democratic trajectory.
South African NGO sector is diverse and dynamic, and has contributed significantly during the anti-apartheid struggle, and during the formative stages of our democratic dispensation and policy reconstruction. Given this rich history of the NGO community, it was expected that, as an integral component of the South African society, the sector was and is politically and ideological contested, and this has led to its inability to navigate the socio-economic and political developments post 1994, contributing to its major organizational and institutional weaknesses, resulting in its accelerated decline to the current state in the face of major national challenges and reversals of the gains of the 1994 project. This internal weakness of the sector reached a climax during the two world conferences hosted by South Africa – WCAR, 2001 in Durban and WSSD, 2002 in NASREC, Johannesburg. Compounding this challenge was the emergence of social movements which played a major part in the steady fragmentation and decline of the unity, coordination and alliance-building within the sector.
The sector has never recovered from these challenges, and impacted negatively against the further development, effectiveness, unity of purpose and impact of the sector.
The main strategic objective of the renewal process is to explore and initiate the revival and unification of NGO sector to play its critical role of articulating the interest of citizens, mediating between citizens and power holders to ensure accountability through effective representation and campaigning. The process must draw its inspiration from the sector’s rich history, lessons and experiences in order to determine the effective mechanism and organisational form the revival must take.
Civil Society Unification and Revitalization project is currently driven through Southern African National NGO Network (SANGONeT), following consultations by a number of national networks as well as remaining SANGOCO structures. This is aimed at bringing on board other key NGO stakeholders at provincial and national levels. These organizations have constituted a steering task team with secretariat at SANGONeT, and will be coordinated by Boichoko Ditlhake. The Main objective is the re-engineering and bringing back the spirit of activism in the NGO sector through a unified and coordinated framework. The project will benefit the NGO sector as a whole, and indeed the democratic government will derive value-added benefits in engaging a well-coordinated, informed and effective sector. Proposed outcomes of the revival process are outlined below:
Consultative process to convene the following structures:
- One (1) National Consultative Forum of NGO sectors and national networks – March 2018;
- Nine (9) Provincial consultative forums – April to July 2018;
- Convening of the National NGO Week/Consultative Conference to distil and consolidate outcomes of the consultative forums and mapping of a strategic direction for the NGO sector in the country, including determination of the orientation, form and institutional character and programmatic thrust – October 2018;
Innovations, ideas and contributions will enhance the consultative process, and are to be forwarded to Kenneth Thlaka email@example.com