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16 June 1976 represented a turning point in the history of South Africa. On that day, young people stood up and took responsibility for the change they believed in and wanted to see.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising; a day when high-school students led a series of protests against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in all schools. It was a momentous occasion that will forever characterise a watershed moment in South Africa’s history. Given that so much was sacrificed at that time, South Africans must ask why young people continue to bear the brunt of social challenges such as unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Over the past few months, South Africa has seen an increase in protests focusing on the need for transformed, and free or low-cost education. These protests are often used as a tool to get those in authority - be it the government or university management - to address various concerns and challenges faced by students and marginalised low-income workers. 

The recent protests were preceded by the large-scale #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall protest movements that erupted across South African universities at the end of last year. These were primarily the result of substantial increases in tuition fees and continued racial inequality at institutions of higher learning. Students decided that enough is enough, and started to push back.

Following the #FeesMustFall movement, students took to the streets in protest against the continued use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Pretoria. Much was written about how the prevailing organisational culture of Afrikaans universities continues to perpetuate racial division by restricting the integration of many black students. The issue of language barriers and continued racial tensions - seen most recently in the cases of Penny Sparrow and Velaphi Khumalo – highlight how the challenges of the past continue to haunt our democracy two decades on.
The youth have not only been at the forefront of protests related to education, but also in many community-based demonstrations. This was seen most recently in the town of Vuwani, where more than 20 schools were burnt to the ground, leaving thousands of students without schools to attend.

Young people have a huge role to play in shaping South Africa into a vibrant country with a prosperous economy. However, a lack of education and economic opportunities is resulting in high levels of frustration, and this is what leads to the violence and the destruction of infrastructure during some protests. Ironically, this only entrenches existing inequalities, as funds that could be used towards improving education and resources are, instead, diverted to repair the damage caused as a result of the violence.

The #FeesMustFall movement illustrated perfectly how discipline and resilience on the part of the youth could bring about positive change, as university fees were not increased in 2016. This was achieved without the use of violence and the destruction of infrastructure. Focused mass mobilisation across universities not only forced the government to stop the increase in higher education fees in 2016, but also resulted in a commission of enquiry to assess the feasibility of making higher education free in South Africa.

In addition, this movement highlighted how, by standing together, young people are a powerful force; and one that can bring about the change they so yearn for. The 2016 local government elections will be held on the 3 August. This presents young people with the perfect platform for using their power to effect change for the better through the ballot box.

As we celebrate Youth Day, we need to commemorate and reflect on the hundreds of young people who were shot and even killed for taking a stand against the hated apartheid system and the scourge of Bantu education. Let’s recognise that today’s young people have the same ability as those of the 1970s to force change for the better in South African society. However, there is no need for young or poor people to die at the hands of the state, as we witnessed in Marikana. 

The youth must stand together for positive change by forcing those with political power to act in the interest of the public, instead of primarily in the interests of their families and friends. Our democracy means we do not need to use violence to achieve this. We can remove those who fail us through the ballot box.

Let’s hope this becomes increasingly understood. The use of violence will mean that we learnt nothing from those brave young men and women who sacrificed their lives for a better society 40 years ago. Through peaceful protest and political engagement, today’s youth can bring about a better tomorrow for us all.

  • Lauren Tracey, Researcher, Governance, Crime and Justice Division, ISS Pretoria. This article first appeared in the ISS Today.

The recent release of the Panama Papers confirmed the increasingly globalised nature of corruption and the entrenched international and offshore mechanisms through which the world’s political and financial elite funnel their wealth and often ill-gotten assets. Information covering decades of secret financial transactions are now in the public domain. It unleashed a global 'tsunami' of public reaction against all forms of corruption, including those implicated in the Panana Papers. It also highlighted the flaws and contradictions in the fight against corruption, resulting in tough questions for those who profess they fight corruption.

Quantifying corruption is almost impossible as so much corrupt activities take place unnoticed, undocumented and unpunished. But even before the release of the Panana Papers there was no shortage of evidence about the scale of global corruption. It is estimated that US$400 billion of public funds have been lost to corruption since Nigeria’s independence in 1960. According to a report by the ECA High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, published in 2015, it is estimated that Africa lost in excess of US$1 trillion in illicit financial flows over the past 50 years. This sum is roughly equivalent to all the official development assistance received by Africa during the same period. Currently, Africa is estimated to be losing more than US$50 billion annually to illicit financial flows. The numbers are staggering. 

Why then are we still surprised by the revelations of the Panana Papers and the seemingly endless acts of corruption being discovered daily in different parts of the world?

Pope Francis has called corruption “the gangrene of a people”, while others refer to it as a cancer eroding society’s morals, values and acceptable conduct, with far reaching social, economic and political consequences for future generations. It threatens the progress to be made towards major global milestones such as achieving the Global Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, and undermines efforts aimed at strengthening good governance, peace and security around the world. It reinforces the already vicious poverty cycle in which millions find themselves, while the rich get richer and the poor, poorer.

On 12 May 2016, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, hosted an international anti-corruption summit in London. Although not a direct response to the release of the Panama Papers, no one could ignore the significance of what was discovered in those documents and the link to the issues which were discussed at the event. 

Attended by various world leaders and many key international stakeholders involved in anti-corruption efforts, the event resulted in a number of important commitments aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption. These include the recovery and return of assets stolen through corruption; greater transparency in the awarding of government contracts; the protection of whistleblowers; the sharing of tax information between countries; punishing those who facilitate tax evasion; the increased use of technology and data to crackdown on corruption; and combatting and eliminating corruption from sport. 

These are important commitments, and represent the promise of a new and expanded response to corruption. But given the scale and scope of global corruption, one needs to question why an event of this magnitude was not convened by the United Nations or another entity with the necessary moral authority and global reach. Too many of the delegates at the event represented institutions and countries directly implicated in global corruption. At the same time, many known transgressors were not present or invited.

Any response to corruption which doesn’t include the international community at large will not achieve the desired outcomes. Loopholes will remain, while voluntary commitments are increasingly meaningless. Corruption is like climate change, you either turn a blind eye pretending it doesn't exist, or fear the consequences of any further delays in mobilising a concerted global response to it. Corruption affects everyone, everywhere. The fight against corruption therefore requires a global response, similar to the response against climate change. The Paris Agreement, adopted on 12 December 2015, may have its shortcomings, but represents an all-inclusive response by the international community to the long-term challenges presented by climate change.

Charity starts at home, and the response by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to Cameron’s comment before the anti-corruption summit, which described his country as 'fantastically corrupt', was spot on – no need for an apology, just act on the commitments which you made and help us repatriate stolen Nigerian assets stashed away in the United Kingdom (UK).

This response sums up some of the key discrepancies in the fight against corruption. Talk is cheap, and convening summits with lofty ideals and ambitious outcomes which don’t result in meaningful change only add to the problem.

Few will argue that the UK is 'fantastically corrupt', but if its financial institutions facilitate illicit financial transactions, tax havens under its jurisdiction operate without much regulation, the London property market benefits from corrupt activities conducted elsewhere or its government continues relationships with other corrupt governments given strategic national interests, then the difference between good and bad is less evident.

International commitments such as those made at the anti-corruption summit, or initiatives such as the Open Government Partnership, Africa Peer Review Mechanism and others aimed at improving governance, transparency and accountability, and as a result, also the fight against corruption, provide a framework for the response required, but no guarantees for success.  

These commitments need to be complemented by concrete actions at the country level such as opening up government data in support of more accountable decision-making, introducing new legislation and revamping law enforcement efforts. In addition, increased support for public institutions with an anti-corruption mandate; civil society organisations exposing acts of corruption or promoting open contracting, access to information and budget transparency; and initiatives implementing codes of good practices and governance in the private and public sectors, is critical to this process.

Often a lack of capacity or resources prevent meaningful and sustained action. But more important, those signing agreements are often the ones most implicit in the persistence of corruption in their societies. Instead of providing the necessary political and moral leadership, public commitments to the fight against corruption are contradicted by the blatant disregard for the rule of law, lack of political will, and absence of any accountability for the consequences of these actions.

Fortunately, in the current age of digital information even the best secrets are no longer secret. There will be more leaks such as the Panana Papers, which will add to further public scrutiny of those named and shamed, as well as those who are not acting in line with their mandate and public commitments to the fight against corruption.

It is time for all anti-corruption champions - those who made commitments in London, or endorsed numerous other initiatives in the past with complementary objectives, or are in positions to affect change - to look in the mirror and ask some uncomfortable questions. There is need for serious introspection and brutal honesty about how their actions to date failed in addressing the scourge of corruption, and how these new commitments have to be implemented without fear or favour. It’s time to act. History will judge them harshly for any inaction.

- David Barnard is Vice-President: Africa at TechSoup.

Honourable Deputy President,
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
All Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Captains of industry,
Fellow Africans and friends,
 
We are delighted to share this 2016 celebration of Africa Day with all of you.
 
Today marks 53 years since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
 
The OAU was transformed into our present day African Union (AU) in 2002 in Durban.
 
We are celebrating the day under the theme ‘Building a Better Africa and a Better World’, which is the goal of our government and our nation, to contribute in whatever small way we can, to improving our continent and to building a better world.
 
The leaders of our continent came together in 1963 because they saw the need for Africans to unite and fight for their freedom, independence, dignity, development and prosperity together.
 
The African leaders realised that without unity, Africa would not move far in achieving her goals.
 
On Africa Day we celebrate the triumph of the African peoples against slavery, colonialism, apartheid and other political ills and forms of subjugation. We are also celebrating the progress we are making in building a better Africa working together within the ambit of the African Union.
 
On Africa Day, we pay homage to the great African men and women who fought tirelessly to ensure that Africa is freed from bondage, and to ensure the return of African dignity.
 
These were selfless leaders who wanted to see only the best for the African continent, and wanted to see freedom reign in every corner of Africa.
 
Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed on the day that Ghana gained independence: “Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.” It is this selflessness that we must remember and cherish always in their memory.
 
Africa has partners in all the regions of the world – Asia, North America, South America, the middle East, New Zealand and Australia and indeed all over. Together with our partners in these regions, we seek to build a better, and more just world, and to build a prosperous Africa, free of poverty, unemployment, disease and underdevelopment.
 
We want an Africa with modern infrastructure, where one can fly from one country to another within the continent, without having to go via Europe.
 
We want an Africa where people are able to drive or ride by rail from one country to another with greater ease.
 
It is for this reason that we are working, under the auspices of the African Union, to build infrastructure that will boost economic development in our continent.
 
We are also working to achieve regional integration and to promote trade among ourselves as Africans, as intra-trade remains very low, standing at a mere eleven percent.
 
In this regard, we envisage concluding the negotiations for a Continental Free Trade Area next year.
 
In doing so, we are fulfilling the wishes of our forebears. Kwame Nkrumah outlined the vision of a prosperous Africa.
 
Kwame Nkrumah said at the founding of the OAU in 1963:
 
“We shall accumulate machinery and establish steel works, iron foundries and factories; we shall link the various states of our continent with communications by land, sea, and air.
 
“We shall cable from one place to another, phone from one place to the other and astound the world with our hydro-electric power, we shall drain marshes and swamps, clear infested areas, feed the undernourished, and rid our people of parasites and disease.”
 
It is up to us now to work harder than ever, to achieve this vision that was outlined by the founding fathers of our continent.
 
The African Union socio-economic blueprint, Agenda 2063 perfectly captures the vision of where we want to take Africa and to build the Africa we want.
 
There is synergy between Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals that we adopted as member states of the United Nations in September last year.
 
Most importantly, their sterling work has put continental self-reliance at the centre of our collective endeavours.
 
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
We cannot continue to be producers and exporters of raw materials. We need to strengthen the manufacturing capacities of our national economies through industrialisation.
 
More importantly, the beneficiation of our raw materials remains of paramount importance. The mineral wealth of Africa must help eradicate poverty in the African continent. And we do have the mineral wealth in abundance.
 
Kwame Nkrumah pointed out in 1963 and this remains relevant today:
 
“It is said, of course, that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications, and no internal markets, and that we cannot even agree among ourselves how best to utilise our resources for our own social needs. Yet all stock exchanges in the world are preoccupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ore.”
 
Excellencies,
 
Africa cannot be left behind in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The sustainable development we seek will come about through the use of modern technology, and also through improving education in the continent.
 
We must take advantage of the global digital revolution so as to create employment and better the lives of our people. The situation which we find ourselves in can be changed.
 
We are a very youthful continent and investment in education and skills development will take Africa closer to the goals of sustainable development and an end to hunger, disease and deprivation.
 
Furthermore, our energy needs in the continent have increased. According to the International Energy Agency, sub-Sahara Africa witnessed a 45 percent rise in energy needs since the year 2000.
 
The electrification of the continent thus remains a key priority, and one of the most important infrastructure goals.
 
Remarkable advances have already been made in solar and wind energy, among others. These efforts will not only enable us to satisfy our energy needs in the foreseeable future but will also assist us to reduce carbon emissions. 
 
We can achieve all these goals. We need to draw inspiration from the word of our iconic leader nelson Mandela who said:
 
“It always seems impossible until it's done.”
 
Your excellencies,
 
We can confidently say that Africa led the way with practical actions towards the realisation of the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, long before the said agreement was signed in April 2016.
 
We are proud of the contribution of the COP17 Climate Change conference in Durban, as the Durban Platform of Action led the way towards the signing of the agreement in Paris. This was significant progress by the African continent.
 
We also need to diversify our economies in order to be globally competitive.
 
I do believe that unlocking the full potential of Africa’s ocean economy is overdue. South Africa is already investing in the ocean economy in a big way. We have already unlocked R17 billion worth of investments in the ports and other aspects of the oceans economy.
 
Agenda 2063 is very clear about the importance of our ocean economies and states that Africa’s Blue economy, which is three times the size of its landmass, shall be a major contributor to continental transformation and growth.
 
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
Pockets of conflicts in the continent have potential to limit the realisation of our socio-economic development goals. It is for this reason that the AU has prioritised peace and security.
 
We have taken a resolution that the guns must be silenced in the continent by 2020. We want an Africa that is at peace with itself. An Africa where women and children live without fear of attacks.
 
An Africa where there are no displaced people and refugees. The continent is doing something to end the conflicts. What has been of concern is the ability of the continent to respond with speed when conflict breaks out in order to protect lives.
 
The African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises which was established in November 2013 to fulfil this goal will remain in place.
 
This mechanism will be replaced by the African Standby Force at a time to be decided by the continent’s leadership.
 
Your Excellencies,
 
While we work hard to address challenges faced by the continent, we cannot turn a blind eye to challenges faced by humanity in other parts of the world.
 
We are thus troubled by the tragic migration crisis in Europe which is being exploited by criminal elements to commit various crimes.
 
The European Union (EU) Commission has recently released a report which links increased human trafficking to the current migration challenges in the region.
 
The seriousness of this matter requires our urgent collective action.
 
I am certain that we all have realised that there is a need to resolve the challenges in countries where migrants come from. We will be shortsighted to believe that migration crisis can only be managed, whereas it can actually be prevented.
 
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
As Africans we have the responsibility to move Africa closer to the goal of prosperity. We are making steady progress towards that goal, with the support of development partners from all over the world.
 
Let me wish you an enjoyable evening and a most wonderful Africa Day celebration.
 
I thank you!
 
For more about The Presidency, refer to www.presidency.gov.za.

The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul is fast approaching, and we’re preparing to participate in what could be the most important conversation about humanitarian funding yet. But there’s still a high risk that the summit will fail to address key drivers for change laid out in the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing report, ‘Too Important to Fail: Addressing the Humanitarian Financing Gap’.

Despite its innovative format, it is possible that the summit will fail to produce concrete enough outcomes, and that the accountability and follow-up around implementation will be too weak.

As explained in our last blog post, MANGO has made significant strides in the creation of internationally recognised NPO financial management standards, which will be a key enabler in building the confidence of donors to direct more money to national non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In January, we partnered with the African Academy of Sciences to help them develop the first ever pan-African standard in Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP), to be piloted in 2016/17. We are also a member of the ICVA humanitarian financing steering group that is feeding into high-level discussions with the UN ahead of the Summit.

MANGO has been calling for greater local and national participation for years, and we fully support the aid localisation target carved out by Charter4Change, seeking commitment from the International NGOs (INGOs) to channelling 20 percent of funding to local partners by 2020. This movement could pave the way for even higher levels of local funding - but only if donors, INGOs, local NGOs and global standards institutions work together to address the key drivers behind making that a reality.

Unless key strands of the Grand Bargain are properly addressed, we won’t see an increase in the proportion of humanitarian funding channelled to local NGOs.

We are particularly concerned about the lack of clarity and consensus there has been on the following points:

Targets for funding levels for national and local responders, both for donors and aid organisations.

There has been a fierce debate about whether the Grand Bargain will set an ambitious measurable target for both INGOs and donors to increase the proportion of LNGO funding from the meagre two percent or less that it has been up to 2015.  We now believe there will be a firm target of 25 percent, but until the key donors sign up to this and confirm how it will be measured then NGOs will need to continue to watch this very closely.

Targets (or something more concrete) about the ambition to increase cash programming. The high level report underscored that ‘only six of all humanitarian aid is currently provided through cash or vouchers’ despite recognising that ‘cash consistently emerges as more efficient than in-kind aid’ and can cost 25-30 percent less to implement than the latter. It is deeply concerning that, in stark contrast with the clarity of the high level report, pre-Summit communication from the United Nations (UN) on this issue is so vague. This looks like it will be a massive missed opportunity at the summit, which will reduce value for money and more importantly restrict the flexibility of implementers to help affected populations help themselves.

  • What ensuring transparent cost structures means in practice

Does the emerging commitment around transparent cost structures signal a shift towards standardising cost recovery? If so, how will that work? MANGO and Bond recently published the results of Phase 1 of a joint cost benchmarking survey of the United Kingdom and European NGOs, which revealed that the UN currently awards the lowest rate of cost recovery compared with other donors. It also confirmed that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and that better understanding of costs coupled with improved dialogue with donors will be key to improving efficiency. We therefore, welcome wider and deeper engagement on this issue. It must not be used to squeeze implementing agencies even harder when they need indirect costs to deliver quality programmes and cover essential support activities, like ensuring the safety and security of their courageous staff.

  • Will the Grand Bargain endorse/mandate IATI or not?

This is still unclear. A clear commitment to a common global transparency standard, based on IATI, is essential. As long as there remain large gaps in the transparency in the funding chain, transparency will be of limited use to either the original donor or affected populations. Wider adoption would also create the conditions needed for advancement of real-time reporting using digital and mobile technology to increase speed and agility.

  • Finally what might be said concretely about donor harmonising, possibly of financial reporting and pre award assessments?

If donors cannot agree on some concrete action on harmonisation, this will be a big missed opportunity, given that a primary objective of the Grand Bargain is reduce the massive waste and administrative burden caused by current donor practices. Financial reporting is the lowest hanging fruit, as this could be simplified easily and has most potential to be standardised internationally. This would save millions of hours of time and dollars.
 
The new GFGP initiative also offers the opportunity to standardise another highly fragmented and costly donor practice which is the multiplicity of donor pre-award assessments and project audits that currently exist. The GFGP is due to be piloted across Africa in 2016/2017, and is being designed to provide assurance to donors that an organisation is fit for funding, thereby removing the need for donors to carry out their own pre-award or due diligence assessments. This would this also save millions of hours and dollars.Even more importantly, it would reduce the barriers to entry to national and local responders and enable donors and INGOs to have more confidence and lower costs in funding them.

MANGO executive director, Tim Boyes-Watson, will attend the summit and we are keen to hear from other NGOs on this topic. Let us know your thoughts on the above by tweeting us at @Tim4Mango @Mango4NGOs, or send us an email.

You can also learn more about our campaign for standards and add your support here.

MANGO is a NGO dedicated to strengthening the financial management and accountability of other NGOs and their partners worldwide. It delivers award-winning financial management training, recruitment and consultancy services across the globe. It offers a wide range of free online tools, as well as a training bursary scheme for national NGOs. MANGO also play a key role in thought leadership and advocacy on sector-wide financial management issues. For more about MANGO, refer to www.mango.org.uk.

Storytelling is increasingly relevant to the strategic communication and awareness-raising activities of nonprofit organisations (NPOs) in Africa.
 
Stories help people to better remember specific experiences. Stories shape our identities. With a great story, you can ensure that donors and supporters understand your work.
 
But how does your nonprofit tell its story? When you upload a video, a photo, or a blog post about your work, whom are you trying to reach with it? What do you expect the audience to do after they see or read the story?
 
NPOs are often so caught up in implementing their programmes that they forget the need to communicate the impact to the rest of the world.
 
That's why TechSoup organises the annual Storymakers digital storytelling campaign to assist NPOs create stories that will generate the necessary public interest and attention.
 
One of the main events of Storymakers 2016 will be a global tweet-chat which will be held on Wednesday, 4 May 2016.
 
Unfamiliar with tweet-chats? It's a live Twitter event, moderated and focused around a specific topic, using a shared hashtag – in our case #Storymakers2016 - to filter all the chatter into a single conversation.
 
Our global tweet-chat on 4 May 2016 will be a 12-hour global conversation - from New Zealand in the East to the United States in the West - consisting of a series of one-hour tweet-chats on the theme of digital storytelling. Each of the chats will be hosted and facilitated, and cover a different topic associated with digital storytelling.
 
To ensure the success of the tweet-chat, we need your participation and support to keep the conversation relevant and informative, and encourage you to invite your colleagues, partners and other NPOs to do the same. Please use your e-mail lists and social media channels to spread the word about this initiative.
 
The Africa component of the #Storymakers2016  tweet-chat will cover the following three topics during three one-hour conversations:
 
# East Africa (2 p.m. Eastern Africa Time / 8 a.m. Coordinated Universal Time)
Topic: Creating an Elevator Pitch - Telling your story in 10 seconds
Convener: @TechSoupKenya & @KCDF
 
# Southern Africa (2 p.m. South Africa Standard Time / 9 a.m. Coordinated Universal Time)
Topic: How do you make storytelling a part of your organisation's culture?
Convener: @techsoupafrica & @david_barnard
 
# West Africa (2 p.m. Ghana / 3 p.m. West Africa Time)
Topic: "What sort of stories should nonprofits tell?"
Convener: @penplusbytes & @AfricaJerry
 
You are welcome to participate in all these chats, but we encourage you to participate specifically in the time zone where you are based. Remember to use #Storymakers2016 in all your tweets, in conjunction with the country where you are based (e.g. #Kenya or #Ghana, etc.).
 
The global tweet-chat will be summarised in Storify at the end of the day.
 
We look forward to your participation in this exciting initiative on 4 May 2016.
 
David Barnard
Vice-President: Africa
TechSoup
E-mail: dbarnard@techsoupglobal.org
 
For more about TechSoup, refer to www.techsoup.org.

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