Partnership in programme about transparency of public authorities opened
The developmental goal of the project is to enhance the transparency of public authorities/agencies by offering specialist programmes in the implementation of the rights to information to public servants; and other key stakeholders. About 25 delegates from five countries – Bangladesh, India, Jamaica, South Africa and Uganda participated during the IST opening.
With the emergence of new global developments and experience in the areas of access to information, the IST comes as a unique platform that could create a new climate of opinion among practitioners in terms of sharing ‘‘best’’ practice, peer learning and the urgency to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public authorities/agencies.
It also became clear during the days that though countries represented do have policies and legislative framework to promote and protect the rights of access to information, they face implementation challenges and constraints.
Lack of political will and lack of knowledge and awareness of the ‘right to know’ in particular by non-government constituency is particularly challenging. The latter could play a critical role to ensure that public authorities take access to information legislation seriously, including government officials directly responsible to implement the legislation.
Some of the participants made some interesting observations. Firstly, as much as they acknowledge initiatives to address the above challenges in their respective countries, however, they were also quick to point at the gaps to institutionalise divergent range of experiences and expertise for global engagement and dissemination. Secondly, the IST is seen as a strategic vehicle, suited to create a platform for government authorities and social stakeholders to learn and share.
Of course Sida’s decision to co-fund this on-going cooperation between the universities of Cape Town and Södertörns was also recognisable. From our perspective, the IST has the potential for long-term sustainability both in terms of diversifying funding sources and for new potential partner institutions.
The partnership between the two universities does also serve as an example of the policy for Partner-driven Cooperation (PDC), inter alia, with the goal to stimulate the emergence of self-supporting relations of mutual interests between Swedish and South African partners.