Civil society efforts contribute to strengthening public procurement and whistle-blower protection systems in Southern Africa

Vienna (Austria), 16 February 2022 – There was strong civil society representation at two back-to-back regional workshops on “Transforming societies through anti-corruption innovation in public procurement and whistle-blower protection Conference”. 18 civil society organizations (CSOs) from all eight countries participated in Cape Town, South Africa, from 7 to 10 February 2022.

The capacity-building workshops on whistle-blower protection and public procurement identified knowledge and enforcement gaps across Southern Africa, as well as the ways forward. CSOs and governmental experts on the respective themes worked together constructively in the various sessions.

Ms. Roswitha Ndumbu, Institute for Public Policy Reform, Namibia, said, “It is very important for our organization to be represented such workshops so that we can learn from other jurisdictions and like-minded CSOs. Building those connections and knowledge will help in our efforts to practically implement the laws we currently have in Namibia but are not operational, such as the whistle-protection act”.

During a session on external reporting and capitalizing on the role of civil society in managing and receiving whistle-blower reports, The Ethics Institute from South Africa, Anti-Corruption Trust Southern Africa from Zimbabwe, and Transparency International Zambia presented on tangible impacts civil society are having in filling enforcement gaps in whistle-blower protection.

During a session on innovation in public procurement, CSO Open Contracting and Multi-Stakeholder Group showcased an open contracting and public procurement checklist they developed. The checklist is being used by communities in relation to public procurement of health and education institutions at the district level in Malawi. It was a case study on the complementary role of civil society to ensure fair and effective public procurement processes.

A preparatory webinar took place the week preceding the workshops to inform CSOs on the context and expectations for their participation. Additionally, in the months prior to the workshop, Southern Africa CSOs took part in a civil society assessment recording examples of good practices in the priority areas as well as recommendations for continuing the partnerships built through the erstwhile fast-tracking UNCAC regional platform.