[DAG places special value in participatory processes to support communities in finding their own solutions and long-term sustainability for the urban sector. We strongly believe in strengthening capacity of civil society organisations, community groups and local civic leaders in order for them to effectively participate in developmental processes. Our approach towards capacity building of local civic leaders has contributed to the growing voice of the often marginalised groups in decision-making. As an organisation, we have also actively participated in pro-poor initiatives aimed at addressing economic, social and spatial imbalances across Cape Town.]

Civic Conversation

DAG believes in the strength of dialogue between Civic-Based Organisations (CBOs), Governmental and Non-governmental organisations. Unfortunately, communication channels between these organisations under usual circumstances proceed in a way that often, in some way, excludes adequate involvement of all stakeholders in an appropriate manner. Although all neighbourhoods have their own urban complexities, the majority of concerns are relatively similar and require joint participation in developing integral steps ahead. With a focus on CBOs, as these represent many residents in the Western Cape, we aim to overcome this status quo and synergise these organisations, in order to create a platform where urban issues are dealt with appropriately. We urge that all civic organisations take part, as we are reaching a point of departure where important strategies need to be developed in order to improve the lives of many and re-establish a more equitable and inclusive Western Cape.

The first step in strengthening this dialogue took place at a meeting on DAG’s premises on 15 February 2017. Chaired by Zama Mgwatyu, it included presentations from Ryan Fester (DAG), Clive Muller (South Road Families Association) and Stephen De Kock (Perception Planning). Though these presentations assisted the development of dialogue, the main voices heard, discussed and used to formulate strategies ahead, resonated from Civic-based organisation representatives that were present. Among others, these included: The Kommetjie Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, Stellenbosch Rate Payer Association, De Waterkant Civic Association, Constantia Ratepayers & Residents Association, Ottery Civic Association, Observatory Civics Association, Tafelsig’s People Association and the Cape Civic’s Forum.


Horizontal Learning Platforms

DAG hosted two Horizontal Learning Platforms (HLP) over the period August to December 2016. These sessions will provide an opportunity for past and current participants to consolidate their learning and share lessons and ideas with different communities. Horizontal Learning Platforms use a variety of methods to spark discussion, for example facilitating exchange visits to local community development initiatives for organisations. The HLPs will advance DAG’s concept of ‘re-imagining the city’ as a space where all stakeholders and interests are able to share in the democratic management of the city encompassing the broad engagement of civil society. These HLP’s form a critical role in ground the course in lived realises of partners and encourage a city wide perspective.
Horizontal Learning Platforms for 2016 will focus on the following topics:

  • The Right to the City – Urban Development, Democracy and Community Development. This will be an opportunity to understand and document how community groups and leaders have organised themselves to realise their right to the city, including strategies, tactics and key challenges. As the HLP will be held before the first module, it will help to inform the DAG team around the key issues and learning needs to be considered in the design of the first module. The output will be a profile of community practices.
  • Democratic Management of Cities – Community Mobilization, Advocacy and Lobbying. This will be held in December following the first two modules and will be hosted by the participants (with support from DAG) to reflect and analyse the value of the platforms and spaces available for citizen engagements (focus on opportunities and threats). This will be based on the actual experiences of participants. The output will be a map of spaces of participation (invited and claimed spaces) together with the opportunities and threats.

Two further HLPs have been schedule for 2017, but not included in this proposal. These include

  • Urban Land Management Planning and Policy – Legal and Policy Frameworks
  • Re-imaging the City – A Way Forward