In an effort to understand the core challenges facing civil society organisations, the Department of Social Development held an informative and thought-provoking two-day Presidential Social Sector dialogue at Langa sports complex on Tuesday May 28.
Similar engagements had been held in the other provinces, with the Western Cape being the last stop, and emanates from a speech President Cyril Ramaphosa made in 2018 in which he made it his mission to understand the many underlying challenges facing the country and different provinces.
The aim of the initiative is to address resource mobilisation, capacity building, issues of transformation and regulatory frameworks.
These would be the main issues that would inform decision and policy makers in government how best government could respond to civil society matters.
Social development deputy director general, Peter Netshipale, said common issues raised across the provinces included a lack of organisation, funding and resources and poor communication in the sector.
Mr Netshipale said one of the critical steps that the government must take is to start lobbying businesses. “We will present these findings to the president in August. We want to create policies that addresses the needs of our people. We want to change how things are done. We want these civil societies to inform the president. Above all, people should be skilled appropriately so that they could access jobs anywhere.
“The priorities that have been set should be informed by the people – a not vice versa,” he said.
Chief operating office of the National Development Agency (NDA), Susan Khumalo, said civil society had indicated that the regulatory framework was not friendly for them to thrive and operate efficiently.
Highlighting the importance of civil society organisations, she described them as a pillar of democratic governance and the “mouthpiece of communities” which represents people’s aspirations, needs and prosperity attainments and improves their livelihoods and quality of life.
Founder of Masibathandane Senior Citizens in Action, Thembi Gecelo, said the engagement created a critical opportunity for them to air their views and challenges and described it as a progressive step which she hoped would yield the desired outcome.