There is more competition among non-governmental organisations in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region than accountability and this has deterred the NGOs from pushing a common agenda for the more than 277 million people they purport to represent.
For 11 years now, the Civil Society Forum, which the SADC Council of NGOs and its partners convene alongside the meeting of the SADC Heads of State and government meetings, has asking SADC to institute or embrace policies and institutions which they believe will eventually culminate into “SADC we want”
Under the “SADC we want” campaign, the forum has among other things incessantly called for the formation of a regional Parliament, Court of Justice, SADC Regional Authority and the free movement of people in the region.
But in a twist of event SADC CNGO Executive Director Boichoko Ditlhake during the official opening of this year’s 11th Civil Society Forum being held at Ave Maria Pastoral Centre in Gaborone Botswana, implicitly rebuked his colleagues in the region for being hypocrites.
“We have been asking our leaders and governments to be accountable. But are we walking the talk ourselves? We need to reflect on ourselves because many things continue to deteriorate and go wrong while we are there
“What is so difficult? We are significantly organised and we have a restive citizenship. Where is the problem?” Ditlhake queried.
But an official from the SADC secretariat, who refused to be named because he is not the PRO, slammed the NGOs saying the SADC NGOs have abdicated their roles and responsibilities.
“The first question they must answer is that what have done themselves to put their houses in order before they interrogate what their respective governments have done,” he said.
Ditlhake also agreed with his boss, SADC – NGO President Lewis Mwape who insinuated that the Forum has because another talk shop because they have failed to connect with the people as a means to realise SADC vision.
Mwape, who also heads the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD), also said there was need for the NGOs to utilise the experience they have garnered over 11 years to correct their failures, weaknesses and consolidate their strengthen.