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OSLO GOVERNANCE FORUM GOVERNANCE ASSESSMENTS FOR SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY

Local Governance Assessments; creating a level playing field for social accountability and improved service delivery Paul van Hoof Senior advisor local governance Idasa pvanhoof@idasa.org.za 1

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“Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be�. Sydney Harris

For citizens to be able to hold their government to account they need to: 1. Have a basic understanding of how democratic institutions function 2. Have a realistic idea of how duty bearers should perform and behave 3. Have access to reliable information that tells them how their duty bearers actually perform 4. Know that they have the right to ask questions and know the mechanisms to do so 5. Know and are able to apply sanctioning mechanisms in case of unlawful/unethical behaviour

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Fundamental to strengthening the demand side of governance (and for creating sustainable and stable democracies) at national and local level within the African context is to empower “subjects� to become citizens who are able to demand their duty bearers to be accountable. Case presentation: Local Governance Assessments can strengthen the notion of citizenship if founded on a learning-based approach to social change: behavioural change of citizens is brought about through reflection on their own actions and the realisation that the present reality is not the exclusive reality.

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Local Governance Barometer Participatory assessment tool to:

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Collectively define the standards of “good” governance within a certain local context (both supply and demand side dimensions)

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Assesses the actual quality of governance against this “ideal” from different stakeholder perspectives (councillors, government staff, business sector, CSOs, ward committees, traditional authorities)

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Provides each stakeholder group with 360⁰ feedback from other groups

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Start a dialogue on the improvement of governance related to real service delivery issues (e.g. resolving corruption in housing allocation)

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Define the role and actions of all stakeholder groups in the change process

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Process: 1. Collectively define “good governance” in local context (regarding, transparency, rule of law, accountability, participation, equity, etc.) 2. Translate into a questionnaire (scoring and issue collection) 3. One-day workshop with each of the stakeholder groups - Individual questionnaires for scoring (compare present to ideal) - Discussion on real issues related to the various criteria  Awareness raising about importance of good governance + relation with service delivery  Reflection on own role in change process 4. Plenary meeting to: • Compare scores of stakeholder groups • Analyze issues raised • Hold each other accountable • Select priority issues to tackle and • assess capacity needs. 5

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Results (examples):  Citizens participate as observers on tender boards in some municipalities in South Africa  Local CSOs have taken up a watch dog function and implement Public Expenditure Tracking in Malawi  Ward Committees have become actively involved in housing allocation processes in South Africa  On requests of citizens, municipalities in Malawi have started to develop service charters  Citizens and the local government work together to develop more transparent plot allocation mechanisms in Kabwe (Zambia)  Municipalities start to realise the importance of informing their citizens actively and of establishing open communication structures 6

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Success factors:  Awareness raising on the importance on governance and consensus on basic performance standards for Local Governments  Creates a neutral space to discuss issues of governance in a depersonalised manner  Guides discussion towards the more systemic aspects of governance  Stakeholders are treated as equals (realise that there is not one truth)  true dialogue  social contract  restore trust in government  Collective ownership of information Citizens can hold government accountable based on a collectively defined governance improvement agenda  Citizens start to realize through assisted reflection that they have delegated power to their duty bearers and have the right to ask questions and to hold them accountable 7

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