Use Economic Muscle – Civil Groups Urged

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK A strong plea was yesterday made for more ci-vil society associations to join the umbrella Namibia Non-Governmental Organizations Forum (Nangof) for greater effect and to be part of a strong force countrywide. The call was made by Nangof’s chairman Norman Tjombe, at the opening of a one-day workshop at the Hotel School of the Polytechnic of Namibia. The workshop, presented by the Civil Society Support Progamme, the Citizens for Transparent and Accountable Society and Nangof, dealt with finding ways and discussing strategies on how to effectively implement societal action plans. “In unity lies strength that can make Nangof’s presence more economically felt within the business sector of the country. Just think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars the respective affiliated organizations annually spend on printing material alone per organization, without getting reduced prices from local printing companies. A fair estimate is that such printing materials can cost up to N$1 million per year,” said Tjombe. He also alluded to the fact that many Nangof organizations regularly fly inside and outside the country by air. “We do not get any reduced prices for flying from local airline companies, big or small. It will be in Nangof and its affiliated organizations’ power to negotiate with such businesses that make a lot of profit from us. Hence, the request for others to join us as members,” the lawyer and chairman of the umbrella organization said. Some 20 representatives of NGOs attended the workshop at which the organization’s new website was also launched. “The importance of engaging civic organizations in our country’s development process cannot be overemphasized. In the recent past, it has become increasingly clear that civic organizations have a vital role to play in national and international socio-economic progress,” said Susan Lewis on behalf of the Director of the National Planning Commission, Helmuth Angula. According to the latter’s speech, globalization has created cross-border issues that civic organizations address and that are of cross-border community interest. “National governments cannot implement national policies or deliver their national responsibilities as effectively or representatively without engaging civil organizations as partners. They augment government resources and efforts and will play a growing role in the economy and national development,” Angula stated. He also said that civil organizations play an important role with regard to providing links to local communities and increasing social capital through the interventions they sponsor. “This partnership is now the basis for laying the foundation for mutual respect, trust and equality between the cooperating partners: government, civil organizations and the private sector. The dedication of civil organizations in addressing social problems and promoting national development contributes immensely to resolving important national challenges,” Lewis said on behalf of Angula. The director of the National Planning Commission admitted that civil organizations will help to reflect on some issues of diverse realities that are more representative of citizens’ needs. “These are concerns that governments on their own are unable to deal with effectively. In this regard, civil organizations have undertaken commendable work since independence in funding and implementing programmes and projects in specific and cross-cutting sectors at local, national, regional and international levels. Thus, their valuable contribution is widely recognized,” he said. Angula also promised that the NPC will continue to assist in mobilizing support to establish sustainable mechanisms to assist civic organizations, strengthen their institutional capacity building and strengthening them with funding. He pointed out an absence of an effective and well-defined policy between the government and civil organizations towards collaboration. “It had been somewhat incoherent and thereby just limited to a few organizations, which in essence could be associated to the lack of a clear policy framework on partnership,” Angula concluded.

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