UN Civil Society Advisory Committe

Fostering policy dialogue for the MDGs

The UN in Swaziland has launched the United Nations Civil Society Advisory Committee (CSAC) to strengthen engagement with civil society to promote the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The CSAC is expected to foster policy dialogue between the UN and civil society organizations and improve strategic engagement in the work of the UN through better understanding of the national development context. This arrangement complements existing institutional arrangements the UN already has with civil society.

The meeting was addressed by the UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Musinga Bandora who recounted the steps in the consultations leading to the formation and launch of the CSAC. The committee was then launched by the Minister of Home Affairs Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze who was represented by the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs Mr. Mduduzi Magongo.

Other notable speakers included the EU representative to Swaziland Mr. Amadou Toare and the President of the House of Senate, Chief Gelane Zwane.

Member of Parliament, Marwick Khumalo who was the guest speaker described the CSAC launch as a critical step for promoting development dialogue.

The high level launch which was attended by among others the President of the House of Senate, leaders of civil society organizations, government, the UNCT and members of the King’s Advisory Council, provoked a wide ranging debate on the role of civil society and the available space for their operation.

Significantly, the establishment of the CSAC coincides with the finalization of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for the programming cycle 2011-2015. This critical period covers the last five years of the MDGs. Accordingly, a presentation of the UNDAF was one of the key items of the CSAC launch.

The Swaziland CSAC is in line with the recommendation of the UN Secretary General for the UN to strengthen strategic engagement with non state actors at the country level. Engagement with civil society is critical to national ownership of development processes, democratic governance, and the quality and relevance of official development programmes. Given the growing role and influence of civil society in development, the UN seeks to draw on and contribute to its strengths in order to maximize the potential of civic engagement for development.

Civil society actors at national and global levels have developed substantive capacity and influence in a range of development issues. Partnering with them can help contribute to the effectiveness of development interventions, especially with respect to marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The success of development and participatory governance depends on both a robust state and an active civil society with healthy levels of civic engagement. Civic engagement is key to the work of UN in strengthening responsive governing institutions and practices – accountability, good governance, democratization of development co-operation, and the quality and relevance of official development programmes. Civil society also has an important role to play in development and aid effectiveness. It has been a strong advocate of changes in the way donors provide development assistance, and is an active partner around the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.

Many civil society organizations (CSOs) have a proven capacity for broad-based mobilization and creating bottom-up demand that fosters responsive governance. Civil society advocacy can facilitate the participation of poor and vulnerable populations in the design and implementation of development policies and programmes. This can enhance the delivery of basic social services, such as health and education. Civil society organizations also play a critical watchdog role in public life. Last but not least, members of civil society organizations volunteer their time, skills, and expertise to development.

 

The initial advisory committee is made of 13 individuals drawn from a cross section of the civil society organizations in the country.

Members are:

CIVIL SOCIETY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

1. Marko Ngwenya

Director, World Vision

2. Emmanuel Ndlangamandla

Director, Coordinating Assembly of Non Government Organizations

3. Khangeziwe Dlamini

Secretary General, Swaziland council of Churches

4. Hlonphile Dlamini

Acting CEO, Swaziland National Youth Council

5.   Comfort Mabuza

Director, Media Institute of Southern Africa

6.   Musa Hlophe,

Coordinator, Swaziland Concerned Citizens Organization (SCCO)

7.           Rudolph Maziya

Director, Alliance of Mayors Initiative for Community Action Against HIV/AIDS at the Local Level (AMICAALL)

8.           Thuli Makama

Director, Yonge Nawe (Environment Action Trust)

9.           Zwanini Shabalala

Director, Church Forum

10.       Mbongeni Mbingo

Managing Editor, Times of Swaziland newspaper representing Swaziland Editors Forum

11.       Cebile Manzini

Director, Swaziland Action Against Abuse

12.       Vincent Ncongwane

Secretary General, Swaziland Federation of Labour