“Empowered civil society in all its diversity represents a crucial and integral component of any democracy and constitutes an asset in its self,” says the Head of the European Union (EU) Ambassador, Gerard McGovern.
Speaking at the Annual General Meeting for the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (BOCONGO), McGovern pointed out that civil society actors can foster pluralism and contribute to more effective policies, equitable development and inclusive growth.
He also revealed that in cooperation with the government, a new EU grant programme called “Empowering Non State Actors in Botswana” has been prepared with an allocation of approximately P80 million. He added that the programme seeks to strengthen civil society organizations to increase implementation capacity and the capability to obtain and account for results.
“EU remains committed than ever to support civil society in Botswana and the wider region, and to enhance your role as a vital partner in sustainable development,” said McGovern.
He also observed that Civil Society Organizations (CSO) have the capacity to empower, represent, defend and reach out to vulnerable and socially excluded groups, including minorities. He added that CSO can also foster economic and human development, as well as social cohesion and innovation. He pointed out that they often take initiatives to advance participatory democracy for transparent, accountable and legitimate governance.
“I am conscious of the fact that Botswana’s upper middle income status makes the country less of a priority for international development of NGOs that traditionally provided mentoring,” he said.
He further said that EU is a long standing partner in supporting CSO in Botswana to help them make a meaningful contribution to national development. He revealed that some years ago, EU had the so-called EU-Botswana micro-projects programme that funded numerous small projects around the country.
McGovern stated that a number of local NGOs succeeded in securing funding under the EU’s global calls launched from its headquarters in the areas of gender, environment and social development. He added that Botswana’s Vision 2016 underscores the principle of government partnership with civil society and the private sector as critical actors in the development process.
BOCONGO Chairperson, Thapelo Ndlovu, pointed at the 17th AGM that the meeting gave time to reflect on the life and of their organization over the reporting period. He added that a lot of time and investment has been put in to accord the support necessary to the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, being the NGO policy parent Ministry.
“We continue to respond to calls by the ministry and have prioritized the NGO Council establishment,” said Ndlovu.