The political nature and the poor representation of the disadvantaged urban communities in the participative forums seriously undermine the constitutionally imagined aim of ‘deepening democracy.’ DAG felt the need to uphold an effective engagement of the excluded and disadvantaged section of people through the use of alternative forms of participatory governance processes.
To address this, DAG holds two Horizontal Learning Platforms (HLP’s) annually. Recently, the Active Citizens Training Programme (ACTP) held its second HLP themed “Democratic Management of Cities – Community Mobilization, Advocacy and Lobbying”. This HLP programme was designed for ACTP participants to reflect and analyse the value of the platforms and spaces available for citizen engagements. The process was based on the 2016-2018 ACTP participants’ experiences with their current advocacy, placing a special focus on the opportunities for civil society mobilisation and its associated threats.
The programme started with the morning session at the DAG offices where participants discussed particular thematic questions such as; • How to participate in the City’s Budget Formulation Process? • What community organisation institution is needed to carry the action items forward? • What opportunities exist for DAG and other partners to support this process?
This captivating HLP workshop sparked engagements, knowledge sharing and discussions among the old and current ACTP participants. After the morning session, the three groups went on exchange visits to other local community development initiatives, where three of the 2018 ACTP community-based organisation leaders are using the tools and strategies acquired from the programme to address issues affecting their communities. Participants got the opportunity to visit Gatesville, Nyanga and Mfuleni. The site visits form a crucial role in strengthening alliances as well as amplifying the impact of the Active Citizens Training Programme.