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Civil society Assignment PDF

Added on - 03 Aug 2021

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State actors provide many important services to the people. In providing these
services, they are often faced with a number of challenges. These include corruption
which is now rampant in most officials and also the state in most cases is not
accepted as a representative of the people. Therefore, in order for state actors at the
local level to effectively function well, there is need for the intervention of a strong
civil society in order to facilitate their services. Civil society is often described as a
`force for good`, consisting of the people fighting against evil and for the public good
(Diamond 1994).Civil society organisations are therefore, described as intermediary
organisations mediating between the citizens and the state. Hence, to a larger
extent, a strong civil society facilitates the effective functioning of state actors at the
local level.
Civil societies consists of citizens and groups in the public arena working outside the
government such as Non-governmental Organisations and institutions, non-profit
groups, trade unions and voluntary community groups, faith-based organizations,
foundations, advocacy groups and networks of people living with diseases
essentially all those communities that are neither government nor profit-seeking
enterprises.
A strong civil society acts as a facilitator of democracy. Democracy is based on the
essential necessity that people and citizens of a democratic government should have
the possibility to ‘govern themselves’ through the democratic system and especially
through the election of representatives into the government.Although many African
states today claim to be democracies, significant development and genuine citizen
participation in politics is still largely absent or limited. The role of the citizens in
African democracies appears to be marginal (Chazan et al 1999).Further, the state
and the overall society are often in conflict with each other (Bratton 1994). The state
is largely not accepted as a representative of the people, and citizen’s access to the
state is restricted. For a democracy to function, the existence of civil society is often
presented as critical, and as a link between the citizens and the state. According to
Diamond (1994), constructive and open communication between civil society and the
state enhance and promote democratic union. Therefore, a strong civil society is a
privilege to the effective functioning of state actors as it enhances democratic union.
Furthermore, civil society organizations have a vital role to play in monitoring the
conduct of elections.This requires a broad combination of organizations,
unconnected to political parties or candidates, that organizes unbiased monitors at
all the different polling stations to ensure that the voting and vote counting is entirely
free, fair, peaceful, and transparent.It is very hard to have credible and fair elections
in a new democracy unless civil society groups play this role. Zimbabwe’s 2018
elections were the first to be observed by the Commonwealth in 16 years. The
Commonwealth last observed Zimbabwe’s 2002 Presidential Election and as such,
this observation mission provided a unique opportunity to accompany Zimbabwe on
a critical leg of its democratic journey. Greer, Wismar and Figueras (2016)
acknowledge that inpolitical theory, a government has all the legality it needs from
its election, but in practice, many policies are challenged if they were made without
the participation of affected interests, which are often best accessed through their
organization in civil society.
To add on to the above, creating opportunities for civil society to hold governments
to account for their obligation is a basic technique used by ministers who want their
improvements to persist after they move on (Greer and Lillvis,2014). Further, in the
context of elections and precisely election-based conflict, civil society has been
recognised as having a significant role to play in promoting peace as it is less
controlled by commands, able to talk to several parties without losing credibility, and
able to deal directly with the grassroots population (Orjuela 2003). Thus, civil
societies are beneficial to the effective functioning of state actors at the local level.
Moreover, civil societiesare important in exposing the corrupt conduct of public
officials and lobby for good governance reforms.Even where anti-corruption laws
and bodies exist, they cannot function efficiently without the active support and
participation of civil society. For instance, Nigerian civil society played an important
role in supporting the return of looted funds and also monitoring the operation of
repatriated funds. Consequently, civil societies are also important in curbing
corruption thereby, fuelling the effective functioning of state actors at the local level.
One of the key benefits of a strong civil society is that it can bring newinformationto
decision-makers whether through research, through close contacts with particular
populations, or through bringing opinions that are born neither in the state nor in the
private sector. The benefits to policy-makers of civil society participation in policy-
making are not just better information and better legitimacy. The benefits also
include varied ideas that their employees might not originate. The civil society
organisations have the ability to bring any kind of information and ideas into policy-
making. Sometimes the most effective participation is in narrow forums where civil
society organizations can exchange ideas with policy-makers on specific topics such
as food regulation, homelessness, or professional regulation.
Civil societies are also most beneficial when it comes to helping the state actors in
terms of emergency outbreaks in a country. For instance, taking into consideration
the recent Cyclone Idai which has affected more than 1.5 million people in the three
southern African countries.These are, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi that
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