By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Citizen’s participation in government and institutional accountability have been at the centre stage during the Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) organized training for civil society organizations (CSOs) that recently took place in Maseru.

Under the ‘Putting Youth and Women at the Centre of Inclusive Economic Growth’ framework, DWF is running a series of training targeted at capacitating CSOs and the small and micro medium enterprises (SMMEs).

During the training it was suggested that decision-making systems in both government and organisations be conducted within a transparent and bottom-up approach.

This training is supported by the Financial Service Volunteer Corps (FSVC) and the European Union (EU) and its beneficiaries are youth and women.

“The intervention seeks to promote accountability, good governance, and participatory governance in the enterprise development sector, enhancing responsive business support services in Lesotho, promoting anti-corruption efforts, and promoting effective and equal distribution of resources to build the enterprise ecosystem,” said DWF.

Tšepiso Nyopa, FSVC Program Officer said they support efforts aimed at strengthening anti-corruption efforts and procedures.

“We want citizens to be involved in governance but also, we are teaching them and helping them to learn how to engage the government. Engagement is really how to hold the government accountable to say this is what the people want; this is what you promised to deliver and what you are doing about that.

“[This] project is targeted at putting women and youth at the centre of inclusive economic growth,” she said.

While acknowledging that Lesotho has made strides in mounting women empowerment policies, she noted that in the budget such policies are not reflected. She said it is important to capacitate women and youth so that they can advocate what they need.

Nyopa said the gender equality policy ought to be implemented in the national budget even from the planning stages.

“It is the citizens in the grassroots who know what their needs are better than the people who are in the offices. Our view is not the same as the person who is there and living there, they need to be involved because they know their critical areas, they know their priority areas,” she stressed.

One of the participants, ‘Marelebohile Mohloki said the training has enhanced her critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

She views strategic planning as planning her budget that is in line with the financial goals set and being realistic about every aspect of this exercise.

Mohloki commended the capacity building for expanding her horizon of knowledge when it comes to drawing up an effective budget plan, adding that she is also particularly impressed with the enlightenment she received on resource allocation management which is critical within an organization.

Analyzing and interrogating the previous financial data she said it will going forward help her to better predict the future costs.

For his part, Thato Letuka from Lesotho Young Christian Students (LYCM) said budgeting policies are necessary in so far as clearly setting out financial planning. This he said will arrest unnecessary overspending.

The budget helps set out the direction on which things the organization can spend on and when the need arises.

He said forecasting will help them draw up a comprehensive budget taking cognizance of the previous challenges.

“As we work with the students, we should only buy things that are related to their needs and not anything else outside of this scope,” he said.

“I have learned the importance of budget planning which is to ensure that I have what I need to wisely allocate funds for growth,” remarked a participant from Bachashutdown movement, Thatohatsi Chabalala.

Chabalala further underscored that she has been well equipped to handle the financial hurdles with the organization structure.

The importance of budget planning and budgeting strategies she said cannot be overstated, adding that she will pay forward the skills and knowledge she has acquired at the training.