OGP Issues First IRM Report; South Africa Gets Criticized

11 September 2013

South Africa’s national action plan as a member of the Open Government Partnership has been only partly completed, focused on easy goals and did not adequately involve civil society, according to the report on an independent evaluator.

The report is the very first one done under the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism and was prepared by Ralph Mathekga of Clear Content Research and Consulting, an independent public policy and research firm. It gives the first look at the style of  the reports, indicating that there wil lbe some standardization in assessing the fulfillment of the self-selected goals.   

Seven more such reports are expected out soon, concerning the countries who, like South Africa, were founding members of the OGP. The reports are designed “to deliver a credible, non-partisan description of the process behind the implementation of a country’s commitment,” in the OGHP’s words, and to examine the progress make on the commitments.

A box score shows eight commitments with one having been fulfilled, five in progress, and the status of two “unclear.”

The report also says “a number of South Africa’s commitments involve pre-existing activities, and their fulfilment does not require a new set of activities to take place.”

“A number of South Africa’s commitments involved activities that did not stretch government practice beyond the baseline that existed prior to joining the OGP,” according to the report.

After finding fault with the process ofr writing the first action plan, Mathekga said, “The next action plan should focus on how government relates with civil society organisations, community-based organisations, and communities at large.” The IRM researcher also recommends the inclusion of more “stretch” goals and creating more public awarenesss of the OGP.

The South African public and government are encouraged to comment on the report, either on the OGP blog or by sending public comments to IRM@opengovpartnership.org . If received by Nov. 14, 2013, the comments will be published alongside the final draft report, according to an OGP blog post.

The Open Democracy Advice Centre on South Africa commented: “We feel that the report correctly reflects the situation on the ground. According to the report our government has not been able to initiate significant innovative activities aimed at driving transparency and service delivery. We are obviously disappointed by this.”

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