Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome and thank you for being here. It is indeed heart-warming to see your strong interest in Transitional and International Criminal Justice issues which are at the very heart of our national discourse.
I would also like to appreciate TrustAfrica for organizing this important training. This is further evidence of the potential impact that could be generated by cooperation between States and Civil Society Organisations. I would most importantly like to thank, H.E Ambassador Theo Peter, for being present today and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for supporting this great initiative.
Today marks the beginning of a 5-day training on Transitional and International Criminal Justice for Journalists. Journalism has very often been referred to as the ‘Fourth Estate”, a recognition of the crucial role the media plays in a democratic society. The media throughout modern history has played a crucial role in upholding free speech and protecting democratic practices.
Fundamental human rights are reported to have diminished in almost two-thirds of the 113 countries surveyed for the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index. This backlash against human rights coupled with a global trend of closing civic spaces creates serious challenges for funders and their grantees. In 2015, 12% of global human rights funding was for work to benefit Sub-Saharan Africa, and included grants from seven Africa-based funders.
This session will discuss a shift towards the more multi-stakeholder end of the philanthropy spectrum, emphasizing participatory philanthropic models. Philanthropy as:
Citizens’ mobilizations in several African countries, including Burkina Faso, Senegal, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo Brazzaville, and Madagascar to name a few, have revolutionized democratic processes. These social movements are often born on the eve of elections in opposition to recalcitrant incumbents and the will of certain elites to perpetuate themselves in power.
Globally, there are increased constraints on external funding and even criminalization of CSOs work. To counter this narrative, an emerging discourse around “participatory philanthropy” is being championed and innovated by civil society activists. Making the shift from external to local resources is one part of this.
In Sub Saharan Africa, the field of organized philanthropy and efforts to developed it has been dominated by Anglophone influences and practices and there has been far less investment in building local philanthropy in Francophone Africa.
Zimbabwe, Mali, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 22 October 2018, TrustAfrica hosted a panel discussion on "Recent and Prospective Elections in Africa: Zimbabwe, Mali, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo". The panel was held in Dakar, Senegal, on the eve of TrustAfrica's board meeting and, as explained by TrustAfrica Executive Director, Ebrima Sall, was meant to give an opportunity to the board members, to have a conversation with our partners and the general public on some of the key issues related to democratic governance and equitable economic transformation in Africa. In her introductory remarks, Ms. Aicha Ba Diallo, board chair of TrustAfrica, said the panel was an opportunity to look back on recent elections and draw lessons to apply to future elections.
Presidential elections continue to present important tests of democratic consolidation in Africa, particularly in countries emerging from authoritarian rule or conflict. Despite the controversies and contestations that precede or follow elections, peaceful transitions of power in countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia and Burkina Faso have strengthened confidence in the transformative power of electoral contests and the strength of popular participation. Civil society organisations and social movements are playing increasingly important roles not only in monitoring elections (situation rooms and supporting voter participation) but also in keeping the entire electoral process transparent and in compliance with international standards as well as with the constitutions and electoral codes of the countries concerned.
Recent elections in Zimbabwe and Mali witnessed strong performance of opposition candidates, leading to a historic run-off in Mali and a 50/43 split vote in Zimbabwe between ruling ZANU-PF and opposition MDC. The August 2018 elections in Zimbabwe heralded a new post-Mugabe era, but in many ways reinforced the status quo of ZANU-PF dominance. In Mali, July 2018 elections witnessed an unprecedented run-off between the top two candidates but ultimately resulted in the victory of the incumbent. In both cases, opposition forces represented viable threats but ultimately failed to achieve electoral victory. The Cameroonian elections of October 2018 also witnessed the resurgence of strong opposition candidates, riding the momentum of social malaise surrounding the 2-years of civil unrest in the anglophone regions of the country. The long awaited elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo present an assortment of viable candidates, especially in the absence of incumbent Joseph Kabila. Participation trends vary across these countries and provide helpful indicators for gauging levels of citizen engagement and political consciousness. These recent tests of African democracies will be discussed and analyzed with a view to informing TrustAfrica’s programming in support of civic participation.
Objectives of the discussion:
- Share reflections and insights on the implications of recent and prospective elections
- Identify priority indicators for levels of democratic consolidation, and priority actions for citizens movements and institutions supporting free, transparent, peaceful, and fair electoral processes
- Raise visibility of the threats and opportunities presented by future elections
Download the Agenda here.
Click here to view the photos of the meeting on Facebook.