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Project to spur dialogue launched

 

Limpho Sello

A GERMAN organisation recently launched a M64 million programme aimed at creating dialogue between government and citizens to enhance democracy in the country.

The three year programme dubbed the Participatory Initiative for Social Accountability (PISA) was launched in Mohale’s Hoek by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in collaboration with government and development partners.

The PISA project is a programme for civic education in Lesotho initiated by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) together with the government of Lesotho.

It is co-funded by the EU and BMZ for a period of three years and it commenced in June 2016. GIZ is a German government organisation that implements development projects globally.

Speaking at the official launch PISA Chairperson, Commissioner Mamosebi Pholo said “it is the type of civic engagement that happens with the aim to stimulate demand from citizens for the government to meet its obligations to provide quality services”.

 “It is important to mention that PISA is not a grant giving scheme, a donor, an NGO or an advocacy programme, but a capacity building programme for public participation. 

“In the long term it is planned that PISA will be transformed into a national organisation for social sustainability purposes,” Commissioner Pholo said.

She said the three-year programme aimed at “enhancing citizens’ knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, granting them platforms for participation in public affairs and development initiatives”.

“It will create mechanisms for connecting citizens’ issues and government through dialogue platforms for the two parties to constructively engage.

“It will also build the capacity of government particularly local government, to respond effectively to citizen demands,” Commissioner Pholo said.

She said PISA had offices in all ten districts and had created employment for more than 20 people.  

For his part, European Union (EU) Ambassador, Michael Doyle said PISA was designed in consultation with the government of Lesotho and civil society, and aimed at contributing to increasing citizens’ awareness of governance structures and enable them to participate in the democratic and developmental processes.

“However, it is also worth stressing that, while we have put in place the structures for this programme to be able to operate, it is now very much up to the people – citizens, as well as local and national authorities alike – to make it a success,” Ambassador Doyle said.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to fully engage and participate in public life, including democratic decision-making processes, and to be empowered to exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities at the national, district and community levels. Success in the promotion of democracy and good governance comes down to the engagement of people.

“Although the PISA programme will run for 3 years, you will surely agree with me that raising citizens’ awareness and promoting the rule of law is not a task that has a start and an end – it is a continuous process.”

He said they drawn from the experience of a similar programme in Malawi to develop PISA for Lesotho.

“A group of Lesotho stakeholders – which included civil society representatives, personnel from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the NAO, the EU Delegation, and GIZ – participated in a study tour to Malawi in 2015 to draw lessons about the country’s civic education programme,” Ambassador Doyle said.

 

 

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