Johannesburg, 11 & 12 September 2012
The Black Sash Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP) is a partnership between the Black Sash, the Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT) and 300 community organisations based in all nine provinces of South Africa. 480 monitors from these organisations have worked together to hold government accountable for dignified and effective service delivery in their communities.
Purpose of the CMAP conference
As CMAP approaches the end of a funding cycle; delegates met from around the country in an inspiring conference to:
- Celebrate the commitment of the CMAP fieldworkers and monitors and CMAP staff, as well as their commitment to social justice and human rights;
- Reflect on the project as a whole: its strengths and what could have been done differently;
- Discuss what aspects of CMAP can be taken forward into the future as CMAP moves from a project to a practice.
The conference was attended by a representative sample of CMAP monitors selected by fellow monitors in each province, Black Sash and SCAT fieldworkers and project staff, researchers, donors, and other civil society partners.
Our keynote speaker, political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi, told delegates he was inspired by their commitment to creating a South Africa in which the significance of each person was upheld. He commented that poor service delivery robs people of their dignity, and that CMAP was important because it worked to restore that worth. He affirmed the importance of civil society organisations sharing the democratic space with political parties if we are to avoid more tragedies such as Marikana. He thanked participating organisations for looking at the country through the eyes of those who are marginalised and less enfranchised.
CMAP Project Manager, Elroy Paulus, highlighted the main achievements of the project and affirmed the outstanding commitment of volunteer monitors, and, in a moving ceremony, monitors received certificates in recognition and appreciation of their work and shared stories of their successes and challenges. Diane Dunkerly, General Manager: Operations and Beneficiary Maintenance of SASSA, spoke about the importance of monitoring information for the agency as it strives to improve their service delivery. Conference delegates affirmed SASSA’s willingness to open their sites to monitors, to accept criticism and to engage positively with recommendations.
Conference participants had the opportunity to engage in small groups in two rounds of Commissions. The first commissions considered key features of the project, and evaluated their contribution to the success of CMAP. In the project, Community Monitors were trained, resourced and supported (through 36 two-day provincial workshops and an extensive programme of 477 field visits), data from the 8 140 questionnaires sent in by monitors was captured and analysed, and 44 reports were written and distributed to monitors and most to government to support advocacy.
The second commissions engaged with the evaluation of the project conducted by Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE), the pilot conducted with the Impilo Project which uses cell phones to capture monitoring data, as well as lessons learnt in SCAT’s monitoring of refugee services in the Eastern Cape and Black Sash’s monitoring of a community in crisis after xenophobic attacks in the Western Cape. Delegates were excited about the potential for new partnerships and methodologies to enrich the future work of CMAP.
We were very fortunate to have Shepi Mati, a Freelance Media Producer and Claudia Cruz from Consumer Insight Agency, who interviewed participants throughout the conference, to capture their experiences and insights.
At the end of the conference participants formulated a Statement which affirms the value of CMAP’s work in achieving accessible and quality public services, and makes a call on government to open their service delivery sites to community monitors.
In addition, a National CMAP Working Group, representative of all regions, was set up to take forward plans to pursue CMAP as a practice.
Project donors were sincerely thanked for their support. The EU was represented by Dr Jozet Müller, Governance & Political Cooperation, the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa, - the principle donor of this project – at the conference. Apologies were received from the Raith Foundation and the Open Society Foundation (SA) who have co-funded CMAP over the past few years.
Guest presenters included Dianne Dunkerley, accompanied by Venilla John and Rashida Hartley from SASSA; Debbie Heustice, Director of HIVAN’s Impilo Project, and Mohamed Motala and Leilanie Williams, from CASE which has conducted the CMAP external evaluation.
Partners included Thapelo Tselapedi, Research and Advocacy Officer, SERI-SA (Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa), Mthandazo Ndlovu,Governance Coordinator, Oxfam–GB, Ruan Kitshoff, Governance Advisor at the GIZ, Adele Kirsten Co-ordinator of Local Government Action, andShumani Luruli from PlanAct.
Government representatives included Bernadette Leon, head of Presidential Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring and Jonathan Timm, specialist in Citizen Based Monitoring, both from the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency