The Democracy Development Programme (DDP) was established in 1993 as a partner project of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, with the aim of supporting and deepening the fledgling democracy of South Africa. The DDP is led by founder and executive director Dr Rama Naidu. Since inception, the DDP has been committed to the promotion of the following principles:
- Sustainable democracy and good governance;
- Political awareness and citizen participation;
- Tolerance and a culture of human rights; and
- Decentralised and pluralist government.
DDP’s vision for South Africa is for an active citizenry that can hold those in power to account, and a society in which the constitutionally enshrined Bill of Rights yields tangible benefits for all, especially those living on the margins.
The DDP believes that a democratic society can only function when the governed can articulate their aspirations and those who govern are able to do so efficiently and inclusively. The organisation is therefore involved in:
- Promoting multi-party democracy;
- Strengthening local government;
- Enhancing public participation;
- Strengthening civil society institutions; and
- Contributing to national reconciliation and social cohesion.
The DDP will achieve this by creating platforms for civil society, engaging with all spheres of government, raising awareness of constitutional rights and obligations, and empowering the youth.
With offices in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, DDP’s key methodology is to bring all relevant stakeholders into a safe space where honest and transformational dialogue can take place. This allows for meaningful conversations about commitment, accountability and possibility. As a participant in one such dialogue stated, “Being brutally honest with each other, as we are in this room, is rare in the community. As a man thinks, so he is. I want to take back the power that I lost. Everyone has been silent for so long – I want myself back. I am a person, I have feelings, I want to be heard.”
DDP also chooses to focus on the gifts and talents of the people it works with, rather than their needs and deficiencies.The arts provide valuable opportunities for reflection and inspiration and together with partner organisations, the DDP Arts Express has been formed, which aims to use creative media (including music, poetry, and dance) to raise awareness of human rights and to provoke conversation about the difficult issues facing South Africa society.
A snapshot of recent projects includes:
- Partners in Transformation, which brings local government stakeholders together to understand the roles that each can play in developmental local governance;
- A Civil Society Approach to Integrated Development Planning, which investigates and suggests ways that civil society organisations can engage with and influence municipal planning; and
- Human Rights Awareness: Education, Heath and Housing, which uses the medium of fictionalised drama broadcasted on community radio stations to increase awareness of socio-economic rights.
The DDP’s work with youth aims to mobilise young people as active citizens, foster critical thinking and to empower young people to make positive contributions to their schools and communities. The organisation supports debating leagues in impoverished schools, establishes, motivates and supports groups of active students in various schools to envision, design and implement transformational projects.
The DDP works to strengthen and support the civil society sector though capacity building initiatives, and the creation of strategic partnerships, networks and alliances for advocacy and shared learning.The organisation has trained 45 partner organisations across KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape in the art of facilitating transformational and community-building dialogues. DDP works with community radio stations in these three provinces as a medium to spread awareness about the principles and practice of representative and participatory democracy and human rights, as well as a platform for citizen engagement with government authorities.
One of DDP’s flagship activities is the regular hosting of public forums, both in Cape Town and Durban. These forums are an opportunity for robust discussion and debate on topical issues facing South Africa today. They are attended by a broad range of participants, including political party members, academics, members of non-governmental and community based organisations and other interested citizens. A regular attendee reported, “These forum meetings and conversations have given civil society a politically neutral atmosphere in which citizens can (and do) find each other. Where attendees all score in the forum format, is that we are brought together rather than having a go at each other. Initially there was some political sparring and point scoring, but this has gone as trust has been built up amongst the participants. Democracy in our part of South Africa is certainly the richer for the DDP.”
To view the Democracy Development Programme in the Prodder NGO Directory, click here.