NGOs: the new face of policy reform
Public participation is the instrument of change
Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), private sector, and individuals need to work together to drive necessary policy and legislative changes within South Africa.
Traditionally, it has been assumed that government representatives will make the best choices, implementing policies in the greatest interests of their society, while members of the community go about their daily duties.
However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the responsibility to drive policy reform lies much closer to home.
This is according to the Executive Director of the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), Marcelle Meredith, whose organisation has been driving policy and legislation in animal welfare since 1955.
"Attitudes of individuals and communities change; what is an accepted practice to one generation may be condemned by the next,” says Meredith. "It is the responsibility of the members of our society to recognise when changes need to be made, and then act on that realisation.”
The NSPCA made headlines recently when it brought an urgent High Court Application against the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in the Grahamstown High Court in an attempt to halt a shipment of live cattle bound for Mauritius from East London Harbour.
Although the NSPCA's Application failed on urgency, the presiding judge did admit that the exportation of live animals via sea to Mauritius – a journey taking 13 days including the loading and off loading of the animals - was a cruel practice that would need to be resolved in the future.
Resolved by whom, however, is the resounding question left to South Africa's largest animal welfare group.
"It is our responsibility to defend proceedings in court, to lobby parliament, here or anywhere else to oppose an archaic activity, outdated policy or process that have a detrimental effect on animal welfare,” says Meredith. "We cannot wait for someone else to bring this matter forward; we – each and every community member - is responsible.”
The organisation has continued to mount a legal and legislative challenge against the respondents despite incurring rising court costs.
Another recent example of the public affecting change is the so called ‘DNA Bill' which was introduced into parliament earlier this year by Vanessa Lynch, whose father was murdered in home robbery. The Bill would make it mandatory for DNA to be collected at the time of arrest from a suspect of all schedule one crimes.
"The public must not underestimate the power they hold; public participation is immensely beneficial as an instrument of change,” says Meredith. ”We are all a part of this practice, either through our involvement to have it abolished, or inadvertently allowing it to continue by doing nothing.”
The NSPCA invites any party wishing to contribute to the ongoing legal battle to abolish the exportation of live animals to contact the NSPCA on 011907 3591 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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