The public enthusiasm that goes with inauguration of new government after elections is a global phenomenon. Keeping active involvement of the people in the way they are being governed has proven challenging particularly in the fledgling democracies with relatively weaker institutions and poor processes. In Lesotho where the country has been to three elections in the period of five years the task for those who care about public participation, the question is how to keep active citizenry.
MARKING 100 DAYS OF GOVERNMENT IN OFFICE-THE CONCEPT
Development for Peace Education (DPE) is a non-government organisation which works to promote democratic governance, respect for human rights, economic justice and literacy, community development, peace and political education. As a civil society organisation promoting culture of peace through dialogue DPE has a number of innovative ways of enabling people to participate in their own governance. Marking 100 Days of Government in Office is one of those many ways.
In 2012, the Rt Hon Prime Minister then, Dr Motsoahae Thabane, made a public pronouncement that after 100 in office he shall account to the public on what his administration has achieved. This pronouncement became very popular of course for different reasons. Some waited anxiously for the progress update while others waited for the time to see what could have not been done. At DPE this was perceived as a very effective means of keeping people’s attention on what government is doing and anxiously waiting for feedback, something that resonates well with issues of accountability. However DPE chose to use the global understanding that 100 days is normally regarded as learning period for the incoming administration. In this context 100 days in office marks the end of honeymoon. It is the time now that government can be engaged, questioned and be persuaded by various ways to link its actions and deliverables with the manifesto which assumedly won elections.
As per the resolution of the Pan African Conference of Ministers of Public Service in 1994 in Morocco and the endorsement of the UN General Assembly public service day is observed in June every year. The idea of inculcating the culture of service among Basotho in particular the youth, is appealing to DPE. It is this view that makes DPE to propose a combined marking of 100 days of government in office and public service day 2017.
MARKING 100 DAYS OF 4 X 4 IN OFFICE AND PUBLIC SERVICE DAY 2017
On this premise, DPE seeks to organise a two pronged dialogue session between youth and various sectors of society inclusive of but not limited to Women, Elderly, Labour, Sports fraternity, Business, Teachers, Academia, Civil society organisations, Farmers, Media, Artists, Musicians, Small traders, Street Vendors, People with Disabilities, People Living with HIV and AIDS, LEGBTIs and Taxi industry on the one hand and the government on the other.
This dialogue would be a culmination of various preparatory activities defined as follows:
- DPE and youth organisations (YCS, SCM, LYFe) in collaboration with Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation shall invite youth plenary meeting to agree on which selected(preferably two) sub themes to focus and then continue with preparations;
- DPE shall mobilise sectors to identify issues they would like to see different ministries of government address in order for progress and development to be realised in their respective sectors;
- Once sectors have compiled their issues which should not be more than three per sector, DPE shall invite relevant ministries to the preliminary session where issues would be presented. This session is aimed at ensuring that highest level of each Ministry is aware of the process and is well briefed on the issues that are directed to the Ministry. In this way Ministries are given opportunity to go back and look at the policies and approaches in office and prepare for real engagement with the sectors. This shall include the youth specific issues;
- There shall be a one day dialogue session with two components. The first component shall be youth specific and shall allow youth make brief presentations on the selected sub-themes and then allow plenary discussion and exchange between youth and Ministers selected on the basis of youth issues and concerns. This component may start at 830 A:M and run up to tea break 13hrs00 PM. The second component shall be the broad sector-ministries engagement. NB: All sectors would be requested to include in their delegation at least two young persons, he and she.
- In partnership with Ministry of Public Service and with support of the Office of Government stage a Sector-Ministries dialogue session to be addressed by Rt Hon Prime Minister giving an overview of the policy intentions of the government, Minister of Public Service on the preparedness of the government to serve and deliver on the policy articulated by the Prime Minister and DPE emphasising importance of open channels of communication to enable public participation;
- These presentations would be preceded by a moderated session of two speakers giving their impressions on the 100 of government in office;
- After presentations, the Sector-Ministry engagement shall commence at the different tables set and arranged in a manner that people representing sectors would sit with people from relevant ministries. Each table shall be assigned a rapporteur for posterity, progress monitoring and further engagement.
BEYOND THE SECTORS-MINISTRIES DIALOGUE
It is expected that this platform would have created open dialogue and lines of communication for further engagement between policy makers and citizens would have been opened.
The Ministry of Public Service has been identified to partner with Development for Peace Education in this initiative because of its centrality in coordinating and celebrating government-citizen relations and its coordination of National Public Service Day celebration. Ministry of Gender, Sports and Youth comes in handy given this Year’s theme for Public Service Day: Entrenching a citizen centred service culture: partnering with the youth for Africa’s Transformation.
It is expected that Ministry of Public Service shall take this initiative as one of its ways of facilitating relations between government as duty bearer and the citizens as rights-holders.
The three partners shall continue coordination and collaborate further in implementing Public Financial Management and Accountability Act which requires ministries to update parliament and the public at least quarterly on their performance in so far as the budget utilisation is concerned. Modalities and implementation of this latter part of the partnership shall be elaborated in due course.