Pro­files in lead­er­ship

poverty al­le­vi­a­tion

Public Sector Manager - - Contents -

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Agency, Thamo Mzobe, is all about ac­tive lead­er­ship

For South Africa to be­come a so­ci­ety free from poverty, gov­ern­ment and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions need to come to­gether.

The Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Agency (NDA) is tasked with con­tribut­ing to­wards the erad­i­ca­tion of poverty and its causes in South Africa, by strength­en­ing the ca­pac­ity of civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions to ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently pro­vide ser­vices to the poor com­mu­ni­ties that they serve. It is an agency of gov­ern­ment un­der the na­tional Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment.

Its mis­sion is to fa­cil­i­tate sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment by strength­en­ing civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions in­volved in poverty erad­i­ca­tion through en­hanced grant-fund­ing and re­search.

As the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO) of the NDA,Thamo Mzobe's job is to trans­late strate­gies of gov­ern­ment into a tan­gi­ble ser­vice to de­serv­ing ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

She joined the NDA in 2012 as a Provin­cial Man­ager in KwaZu­luNatal and was pro­moted to fa­cil­i­tate stake­holder re­la­tions as a se­nior man­ager in 2013. Hard work saw her pro­gress­ing up the ranks and she was ap­pointed as CEO in 2016.

Ser­vant leader

“I don't take be­ing a CEO as a sta­tus but as a re­spon­si­bil­ity. As a ser­vant leader, I am al­ways look­ing for ways to make peo­ple's lives eas­ier,” she said.

“My role is to make sure that I un­pack the vi­sion of gov­ern­ment into chang­ing lives of the peo­ple through strate­gies. It is my role to en­sure that the NDA is do­ing jus­tice to the com­mu­nity,” she added.

Mzobe's per­sonal goal is to en­sure that the bu­reau­cratic prac­tices that ex­ist in gov­ern­ment do not be­come a bar­rier or frus­tra­tion to com­mu­ni­ties want­ing to ac­cess ser­vices.

She spoke to PSM about the role that the NDA plays in erad­i­cat­ing poverty and fa­cil­i­tat­ing sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

“Our main role is to mo­bilise grants to sup­port civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions that have poverty erad­i­ca­tion pro­grammes. We re­ceive about R200 mil­lion an­nu­ally from par­lia­ment to do our work, in­clud­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion. That is not a lot of money, but we have been able to make strides with it,” she said.

De­vel­op­ment ac­tors

The agency recog­nises that civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions are de­vel­op­ment ac­tors that con­trib­ute to eco­nomic, so­cial and demo-

cratic de­vel­op­ment to achieve the shared goals of erad­i­cat­ing poverty and im­prov­ing the lives of ben­e­fi­ciary com­mu­ni­ties.

The NDA serves as a cat­a­lyst to har­ness the ef­forts of civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions. Mzobe said this year alone the agency has ap­proved fund­ing for more than 200 civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions across the coun­try.

Grant fund­ing is pro­vided to civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions that con­trib­ute to the im­prove­ment of the qual­ity of life in com­mu­ni­ties through pro­grammes or projects that as­sist the poor.

Mzobe said there is no limit to how much the NDA can fund one or­gan­i­sa­tion, but there is a process to be fol­lowed in terms of ap­prov­ing ap­pli­ca­tions and as­sess­ing the needs of each or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Fi­nan­cial and non-fi­nan­cial re­sources are iden­ti­fied and mo­bilised to sup­port non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions (NPOs) and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions.

She said if the NDA is un­able to fund a de­serv­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion in a par­tic­u­lar year, that or­gan­i­sa­tion is pri­ori­tised for the next fi­nan­cial year.

She ex­plained that the agency also plays a role in link­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions to other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions, as well as lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional donors for ad­di­tional sup­port

Among other ser­vices, the agency pro­vides the fol­low­ing: • Fund­ing needs as­sess­ment for civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions. • Fund­ing pro­posal writ­ing, han­dling face-to-face meet­ings. • Com­mu­ni­cat­ing key mes­sages to po­ten­tial fun­ders.

• Grant­ing fund­ing to civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions for de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes and projects op­er­at­ing in poor com­mu­ni­ties.

Poverty-fight­ing pro­grammes

The agency was es­tab­lished in 1998 and is tasked by Par­lia­ment with con­duct­ing re­search that will in­form gov­ern­ment's pover­ty­fight­ing pro­grammes that aim to mo­bilise civil so­ci­ety and fa­cil­i­tate ca­pac­ity build­ing.

“We have to make sure that civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions do not fall apart,” she said.

In terms of ca­pac­ity build­ing, the NDA has a pro­gramme that is de­signed to en­sure that civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions have the in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity needed to un­der­take the work that they are sup­posed to be do­ing.

The pro­gramme strength­ens the in­sti­tu­tional and tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity of or­gan­i­sa­tions to en­able them to de­liver sus­tain­able and qual­ity ser­vices when car­ry­ing out de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes and projects in poor com­mu­ni­ties.

Since 2013, the NDA has trained over 5 000 civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions to en­able them to im­ple­ment com­mu­nity-de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes suc­cess­fully, com­ply with NPO leg­is­la­tion and ac­count for funds that they re­ceive from donors.

To en­sure that its ca­pac­ity-build­ing in­ter­ven­tions are sus­tain­able, the NDA uses a three-step ap­proach in­volv­ing train­ing, men­tor­ship and in­cu­ba­tion.

In terms of train­ing, the NDA pro­vides ac­cred­ited and nonac­cred­ited train­ing mod­ules in the fol­low­ing:

• Ba­sic book­keep­ing and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment.

• Con­flict man­age­ment.

• Project man­age­ment.

• Gover­nance re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion.

• Reg­is­tra­tion com­pli­ance.

• Com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment prac­tice.

• Net­work­ing and ex­ter­nal re­la­tions.

Pre­vi­ously, the NDA was based only in provin­cial of­fices but now its ser­vices have be­come more ac­ces­si­ble, thanks to the es­tab­lish­ment of 52 dis­trict of­fices.

“The ex­pan­sion to more dis­tricts pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for the NDA to strengthen re­la­tions with lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” Mzobe said.

She added that the prox­im­ity to the dis­trict mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will en­able the NDA to gain bet­ter knowl­edge of the chal­lenges faced by com­mu­ni­ties and will al­low the agency to re­spond ac­cord­ingly.

Early child­hood de­vel­op­ment

The NDA also works in sup­port of the Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment's early child­hood ser­vices, by fo­cus­ing on early child­hood de­vel­op­ment (ECD) pro­grammes that are not reg­is­tered, those that are con­di­tion­ally reg­is­tered and those that are ge­o­graph­i­cally far be­yond reach.

These are pro­grammes si­t­u­ated in ru­ral ar­eas, in­for­mal set­tle­ments and farm ar­eas where the lev­els of poverty are very high and par­ents have no means or ac­cess to struc­tured ECD-based pro­grammes.

Mzobe said through stud­ies con­ducted by the NDA, the agency re­alised the im­por­tance of in­vest­ing in the first 1 000 days of a child, and that women play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the fight against poverty be­cause they take care of chil­dren and lead fam­i­lies.

“We had to make sure that we sup­port women to be­come the cen­tre of de­vel­op­ment, be­cause they are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ECD sec­tor, small-scale farm­ing and small busi­nesses. We re­alised that if we in­vest in ECDs, we will be cre­at­ing jobs for prac­ti­tion­ers and the lo­cal women who work in the food gar­dens that sup­ply fresh pro­duce to the ECDs,” she said.

How­ever, Mzobe said the NDA's im­pact over the years is quite min­i­mal and the fo­cus is now on en­sur­ing that it be­comes more ef­fec­tive.

CEO of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Agency, Thamo Mzobe.

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