By Francis Tsawayo WINDHOEK The Namibian civil organisation Forum For The Future (FFF) and the Embassy of Finland this week signed a cooperation agreement to the tune of N$445 500 for the promotion of the involvement of rural Namibians in civil society activities. The project which is to run from now until 2008 is set to broaden awareness and understanding of civil institutions amongst grassroots communities in order for them to contribute genuinely to democracy. Some of the set objectives include creating a conducive environment, promoting civil values and enriching the resource base. The FFF, which was established in 1998, like most organisations had a memorable beginning with a lot of intellectuals from all walks of life, civil servants as well as politicians from different parties. Surrounded by rumours during the election run-up of 1999-2000 that it was used as a front for certain political parties, the organisation has seen a decline in the participation of its activities to record lows. Samson Ndeikwila, coordinator for the FFF labels this time as the Dominant Era of the organisation. For the better part of the five years to come, the initiative was faced with overcoming public fear to associate with the organisation, the expressed ignorance about its existence and questions over its sustainability in terms of funding. With much work done the FFF managed to create dialogue with people and overcome misconceptions, once more establishing itself as an independent organisation free from political influence. “What was once viewed as a club of intellectuals became a tool focusing on enlightening people and equipping people with tools to influence decision making and support sustainable development. Some funding from the Dutch, Swedish and the Finnish was also vital,” Ndeikwila told New Era. Ndeikwila also said that on the present agreement, emphasis would be placed on keeping the communities well informed when it comes to government operations and tools that include the budget, how government raises revenue and its expenditure. He encouraged people to attend council and village meetings, as these are also bases of participatory discussions. For this year, focus would be placed on several issues, mainly the reconciliation policy which he urged the public to look at in a realistic manner, warning that for as long as there are divisions people should forget about development. The United Nations Charter, Democracy, the Bill of Rights, the Namibian Constitution are other areas that would be attended to by the organisation. In a holistic approach, Ndeikwila said, regional groups such as SADC and the Meaning of Globalisation would be vital for communities to understand their country and be in a position to make effective contributions. Apart from the contribution of the Embassy of Finland, Ndeikwila was also thankful for the contributions made by local institutions like Unam Human Rights and Document Centre, the LAC and NSHR.
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