Next steps on Fiscal Openness Accelerator (FOA) Project
The year 2021 kicked off with a range of productive meetings for the Advisory Group of the Fiscal Openness Accelerator (FOA) of which we are a member. The FOA seeks to support innovation to deepen participation by members of the public in fiscal policy; something that has become particularly vital in the context of major shifts around the world emanating from the impacts of COVID-19.
The FOA is supported by the US Department of State and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Multi-Donor Trust Fund which is managed by the World Bank. The initiative covers work in Benin, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa: http://www.fiscaltransparency.net/foaproject/
On Friday 12 March 2021 – we will participate in a meeting to be opened by the National Budget Director at the National Treasury, Edgar Sishi. Representatives of the Advisory Group include officials from the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), National Treasury, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) and various civil society organizations.
We look forward to contributing to the process of co-creating a pilot for deepening public participation in South with guidance from the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) and the International Budget Partnership (IBP).
Submission on National Treasury’s Draft Procurement Bill: 30 June 2020
On 30 June, Imali Yethu and the Budget Justice Coalition made a submission in response to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance call to provide the National Treasury with comments on the draft Public Procurement Bill.
The Bill intends to create a single framework to regulate public procurement. The realisation of the principles of fairness, equitability, transparency, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness as envisaged in section 217(3) of the Constitution being practiced when organs of state contract for goods and services, requires that there is the will for a culture of clean governance to prevail. The introduction of this bill as a necessary legislative reform will support to instill clean governance. We simultaneously urge that this legislative reform must be accompanied with improved financial management and consequence management, as well as prosecutions of those who engage in criminal acts in transgression of procurement regulations.
Read our detailed submission here: http://psam.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Submission-to-Treasury-on-Procurement-Bill_June-2020.pdf
North West Treasury joins forces with Vulekamali to increase public participation in the budget process
With the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) having been tabled by the Minister of Finance on 30 October – the North West Provincial Treasury will host a unique civic information drive with vulekamali.
Our portal – vulekamali.gov.za is an easily accessible online budget data portal that is being developed alongside the National Treasury
This is aligned with our shared commitment to transparency and increased public participation in the budget process. The upcoming civic information drive (CID) will be held in partnership with the North West Provincial Treasury primarily through a budget literacy training, over two days, for both government and civil society representatives.
The aim of the training is to raise awareness about vulekamali.gov.za, encourage participants to engage with the South African national and provincial departments budgets, and stimulate thinking on budget data-driven solutions to some of the problems experienced by local communities. This will also be an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the budget process within government, interacting with vulekamali.gov.za, and importantly, to interact with national and provincial government officials on budget-related matters.
Date: 25 and 26 November 2019
Venue: Mafikeng High School
“I am being empowered, I can check the website vulekamali.gov.za and approach a person (in the government department) having facts (budget information). We are starting here (at the budget training) and we now have the power to engage with the government on their level.” – CSO participant Free State Budget Training.
Government budgets can be intimidating to try and understand as they are often presented in complicated and inaccessible formats. For this reason, Vulekamali was created, to make national and provincial government budgets more accessible to everyone in South Africa. Currently, this includes a combination of interactive visualisations, simple graphs, summarised budget documents and educational videos. At every stage of open budget portal’s development, there are opportunities for users (that’s you) to provide input on the design, content and functionality of www.vulekamali.gov.za.
We invite all community groups and associations, North West Provincial & Local Government officials, business associations, universities and community journalists who are eager to learn more about government budgets, to send representatives to attend this event. Anyone with an interest to attend to register here: https://vulekamali.gov.za/events.
Vulekamali in the Free State
Between 25 to 27 July 2019, National Treasury, IMALI YETHU and Free State Provincial Treasury, will be hosting Civic Information Drives in the Free State. These include a two-day CSO Budget Literacy training and a one-day #BetterBudget Dataquest, which is an opportunity for you to collaborate with other creatives and those who are interested in public-spending, as well as to do something that could contribute to your community’s upliftment and long-term well-being.
The Civic Information Drives play an important civic engagement role in understanding the needs of citizens in relation to Government budget information. Many of the features now visible on Vulekamali were suggested at these civic engagements.
Vulekamali in Kwazulu-Natal
Between 26 and 28 November 2018, IMALI YETHU and the National Treasury invited other civic actors and government departments to Kwazulu- Natal for a series of events to promote awareness of and engagement with vulekamali.gov.za in the province. And what a vibrant three days it was!
Represented by IMALI YETHU Lead Coordinator, Zukiswa Kota, National Treasury’s Director of Budget Reform, Andisile Best, and OpenUP – the vulekamali team ended the last of the 2018 events on a decidedly positive note.
A briefing event took place in Pietermaritzburg on 26 November 2018 targeting government officials in the main. The objective of the session was to engage important public sector stakeholders and to demonstrate vulekamali.gov.za. We also intended to specifically explore provincial budgets, to promote openness and explore opportunities for broader (public) participation during the budget processes.
We were able to showcase resources available to assist with budget literacy training and awareness-raising. The session was hosted in Pietermaritzburg at the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ Disaster Management Centre.
One 27 and 28 November, we hosted a DataQuest and Hackathon in Durban.
The Budget Data Quest aimed to bring together a diverse audience to explore their budget analysis and advocacy needs.
Insights were varied and came from a diverse range of participants; civic actors, public officials, budget analysts, social workers, non-profit managers and data analysts.
The Budget Hackathon assembled participants with a wide array of skills (technical and otherwise) and problem solving abilities, with the ultimate goal of exploring solutions to budget analysis and advocacy problems. Participants are encouraged to work in teams to determine and identify solutions to problems emanating from the Dataquest.
Targeted skills include budget analysis, budget advocacy, public finance management, data wrangling, programming and creative writing. The focused, problem-solving approach of a hackathon complements the exploratory discussions in the Data Quest.
Vulekamali is launched
On 21 February 2018 Zukiswa Kota spoke to the SABC about the launch of Vulekamali.
On 20 February 2018 the VULEKAMALI Open Budget Portal for South Africa was officially launched at a briefing in Parliament. Media articles covering the launch include: https://www.enca.com/south-africa/gigaba-launches-online-budget-data-portal
Online portal gives South Africans a way to send e-tips to finance minister
On 1 February 2018 Dr Kay Brown from National Treasury appeared on SABC’s Morning Live to discuss the results of the Open Budget Index (OBI) 2017 and the collaboration between National Treasury and IMALI YETHU to develop the Open Budget Portal now called Vulekamali.
Following the official commencement of the project to develop South Africa’s online budget portal in August 2017 – much has happened. The progress has been exciting to witness.
In September 2017, the first data quest to inform the development of the portal took place in Pretoria. The data quest brought together experts from government, civil society, media, academia, private sector and technical communities to unpack how to make Treasury’s budget information accessible to all South Africans in order to promote citizen engagement.
Five parallel sessions were run and 27 topics were discussed. The topics covered a wide range of areas ranging from the capacity of government systems to how communities can access budget data in low-technology environments. Sessions were convened by participants and tended to be self-organised.