The following text was contributed by the Government of South Africa.
South Africa transformed from a racially exclusive, closed and secretive apartheid state to a fully fledged democratic state in April 1994 following the first national democratic election. Democracy in South Africa is premised on a progressive and transformative Constitution enshrining a Bill of Rights with universal adult franchise. The very process of Constitution making was consultative in the broadest possible sense involving the participation of South Africans in every corner of the country.
The first decade of democratic transformation was characterised by legislative reforms and democratising the State with an emphasis on increasing the capacity of the State to advance the objective of reconstruction and development. Significant progress was made during the first ten years resulting in unifying and rationalising the public service and setting in place a framework for new structures, systems and a democratic ethos based on the principles of transparency and accountability. South Africa has become a well-functioning democracy in a comparatively short time. Three successful national and local government elections have been held since 1994 further entrenching democracy and public confidence in free and fair elections.
Strong institutions of representative democracy have been built including Parliament, Provincial Legislatures and Municipal Councils. Independent public entity institutions supporting democracy including the Human Rights Commission, the Public Protector, the Auditor-General and the Commission for Gender Equality have been set up as outlined in the Constitution. Furthermore, an independent judiciary has been established which is trusted by the vast majority of South Africans as the final arbiter of the rule of law in the country.
The National Planning Commission, who is tasked with the development of a vision statement and a country plan for 2030, released a Diagnostic Overview in July this year and subjected this objective to public scrutiny inviting comments through a public participatory process. This public participatory dialogue process was conducted throughout the country in all nine provinces involving National and Provincial Legislatures, civil society including labour and business, civic and faith based bodies. Combating corruption and enhancing transparency and accountability were identified as key challenges to strengthening a capable and democratic state during the feedback process. Hence, the grand challenge South Africa will address through OGP is to: “Increase public integrity by improving public services, creating safer communities, effectively managing public resources and increasing accountability”. South Africa`s OGP Action Plan will therefore focus on measures to:
- strengthen corruption combating instruments and capacity to increase integrity management systems;
- strengthen mechanisms for meaningful citizen engagement in service delivery improvement and policy development processes;
- hold public servants accountable to the public and the communities they serve through the development and implementation of an accountability management framework for public servants.
In addition to the public participatory dialogue of the National Planning Commission, a consultative process was undertaken with the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), the largest single umbrella body of civil society organisations in the Southern African region. SANGOCO’s input to the OGP Action Plan was made by all nine provincial structures representing different types of civil society organisations and groups, including community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, networks, forums, associations and social movements. Individual civil society inputs to South Africa`s Action Plan were also made by the Open Democracy Advice Centre, the South African National Civic Organisation, and the Centre for Economic Governance and Aids in Africa.