M64 million project promotes dialogue

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Billy Ntaote

THE Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has begun rolling out a three-year M64 million project aimed at creating dialogue between citizens and government in order to contribute to building a vibrant and open democracy.

Dubbed the Participatory Initiative for Social Accountability (PISA), the project is jointly funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) under a financing agreement with Lesotho’s Ministry of Finance.

PISA Program Manager, Alexander Erich this week said the first phase of the project would last until May 2019.

He said it would be implemented under the slogan ‘Boikarabello ke ba bohle’ which is loosely translated to mean ‘the responsibility is for all of us.’

“PISA aims to bring citizens and government representatives together in fruitful and constructive discussions about solutions to development challenges,” Dr Erich said at a press conference in Maseru this week which was also attended by the EU Head of Cooperation Theo Kaspers and Mariam Homayoun, the EU Governance Programme Manager.

Dr Erich said the project would be implemented in collaboration with the Independent Electoral Commission, Ministry of Development Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Local Government as well as the National Assembly of Lesotho.

He said they would also partner with civil society organisations that include the Lesotho Youth Federation, Women in Law in Southern Africa, Rural Self Development Agency and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.

He said PISA sought to empower citizens in line with their constitutional rights “to participate in public affairs”.

“We are looking to support a vibrant society and democracy in Lesotho where citizens are informed about their rights and responsibilities; about government policies and initiatives and about how they can participate in public life about issues that affect them,” Dr Erich said.

He also said the project was also in line with the country’s own National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP).

“The NSDP clearly stipulates that a civic education programme shall be established in Lesotho. In that sense PISA responds to that call in the NSDP,” he said, adding the project would be implemented around three areas, called results areas.

“We want to support civic education that informs and educates citizens of all ages, throughout the country about the democratic processes, about their rights and responsibilities and about how they can participate in public life.

“On the other hand, we will also work with local government structures to use participatory approaches to engage with the citizens and to have a fruitful dialogue.

This will bring us to the third area, where we seek to bring together citizens and elected officials in a constructive dialogue. That is actually the main mandate of PISA,” he said.

He also said that PISA would have “a presence in all the 10 districts and there is going to be a PISA centre that will be open to the public, with a library, free Wireless internet and also a space for activities like workshops, trainings and events”.

He said they would also run a media campaign “with messages on radio, billboards and in line with our slogan that responsibility is all with us”.

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