We must continue Nomboniso Nangu Maqubela’s fight for justice for all
By the Global Legal Empowerment Network Team
“Open government is really about this partnership, about civil society organizations and government working together to collaborate for the benefit of citizens and communities on the ground.” Nomboniso Nangu Maqubela
In April, the Open Government community lost a remarkable advocate and true social justice warrior. Nomboniso Nangu Maqubela, passed away on April 8, unexpectedly after a short illness.
Nomboniso was a fiery activist who championed legal empowerment and access to justice. She successfully fought for the recognition of community advice offices as part of the wider justice system in South Africa. She was also instrumental in advocating for the inclusion of Goal 16 to the Sustainable Development Goals, and was a founding member of the Global Legal Empowerment Network and an envisaged African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice.
Nomobinso believed that to achieve open government, people must be empowered with the ability to respond to the injustices that affect their daily lives. She saw OGP as an untapped resource for promoting legal empowerment and extending access to justice.
After securing recognition and financing for community-based paralegals across South Africa, Nomboniso worked to have these commitments enshrined in South Africa’s Open Government Partnership National Action Plan. She rightly believed that a time bound OGP Commitment would spur actors in government and civil society into action.
Thanks to her leadership, other members from the Global Legal Empowerment Network are exploring how to use OGP to advance justice in their countries. In the Philippines, civil society used OGP to keep discussions around new national justice policies active and secured an action for access to justice in the draft plan. Unfortunately, in the current political climate a justice indicator was not included in the final plan, but OGP remains a useful tool to foster collaboration and move forward justice priorities.
Nomboniso will be dearly missed and her big shoes will be hard to fill, but it is the responsibility of those of us left behind to make her vision of access to justice for all a reality.
We send heartfelt condolences to her three children who were “her world”, her family, friends and colleagues. May she rest in peace.