Institutions Supporting Democracy come together to ensure responsiveness, transparency and accountability in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape disaster relief efforts
The heads of independent constitutional bodies met virtually on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 under the banner of the Forum for Institutions Supporting Democracy (FISD) to discuss and explore a collaborative approach to monitor, exercise due diligence and oversight over government disaster relief efforts following the recent floods that ravaged KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape.
The FISD conveyed its condolences to the families of the more than 400 people who lost their lives because of the disaster. It also acknowledged and commended government, business and civil society efforts in providing humanitarian aid to the affected communities, a lot of whom are bereaved, having being displaced and are without shelter and basic supplies. The heads of constitutional institutions agreed to establish a nerve centre where the relevant transparency, accountability and monitoring activities of some member institutions will be coordinated. The nerve centre will develop a plan of action and submit to the heads of institutions.
While agreeing that member institutions — as independent bodies — must carry on implementing their own individual mandates to hold government to account in the aftermath of the disaster, they also resolved that this must be done in a way that complements each other’s roles where possible to avoid duplication of efforts. They further noted that some member institutions such as the Public Protector South Africa, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Auditor-General South 2 Africa were already undertaking their oversight work, monitoring and following up on the undertakings government has made and paying close attention to the expenditure of funds set aside for relief.
They further noted that some members might play other roles that go beyond the scope of the FISD nerve centre in exercising their mandate. The FISD came into being in 2011, after member institutions identified the need to establish a platform for cooperation, collaboration and mutual support whilst maintaining their constitutional independence.
The overall objective of the forum is to promote and protect the governing principles established by the Constitution to strengthen constitutional democracy in the country. The forum also operates as a platform for sharing ideas and developing best practice to give effect to the respective mandates of member institutions. It is made up of the Auditor-General of South Africa; Commission for Gender Equality; Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; Financial and Fiscal Commission; Independent Communication Authority of South Africa; Independent Electoral Commission; Public Protector South Africa; South African Human Rights Commission; Pan South African Language Board and Public Service Commission.