Picture by ZLDC
By Vanny Hampondela
The Government of the Republic of Zambia established the Governance Department in 2012 to coordinate the implementation of governance programmes in National Development Planning (NDP). Since then, the responsibilities of the Department have increased to include coordination of regional and international governance initiatives such as Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM); African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; and United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). In all these programmes, the Civil Society participation has been viewed as the bedrock in representing the voiceless and citizens. Not only is Civil Society key in promoting good governance and in realising socio-economic development, but they are also critical in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDSs).
The government has therefore continued to promote CSO engagement at National and local levels through various structures and platforms. For instance, in2019, the Governance Department and other State Institutions engaged CSOs in policy formulation and legislative reforms. These included the review and developing of the Anti-Corruption Policy, Review of the Public Order Act, monitoring the implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) and participating in the country’s Targeted Review on the Contribution of Tourism and Mineral Resources to the Economy of Zambia, among others.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
Although the dialogue platforms exist, engagement between State Institutions and CSOs in the Governance sector remains lean with seldom engagements on topical issues or policy making. It is in view of this that the Governance Department, with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – Civil Society Participation Programme (CSPP) hopes to utilise the following strategic focus areas as part of windows of opportunities in 2020:
a) Strengthening of Coordination Mechanisms in order to enhance information sharing and tapping into existing potential around the current networks;
b) Developing and implementing a communication and advocacy strategy to enhance awareness on good governance ;
c) Enhancing data collection in order to inform programming and evidenced based decision-making under the Governance sector
d) Establishing an Annual Advisory Forum to review performance and sharing lessons learnt within a multi-sectoral approach; and
e) Promote dialogue and cooperation between State Institutions and Civil Society Organisations.
It is expected that these initiatives will enhance linkages between the Civil Society Organisations and the Governance Department as well as their participation in promoting accountability and transparency.
The author of this article is a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at the Ministry of Justice