Vulekamali empowers South Africans

- More Matshediso

With a click of a button, people are able to easily get to grips with the country’s budgets, thanks to an online system called Vulekamali.

The portal was establishe­d two years ago by National Treasury in collaborat­ion with a number of civil society organisati­ons.

This innovative project won an award during the 17th Public Sector Innovation Awards 2019, under the Innovation­s Harnessing 4IR Solutions category.

National Treasury Director Andile Best, who leads the Vulekamali portal initiative, says its main aim is to increase public interest, participat­ion and knowledge of government’s financial programmes.

“This is National Treasury’s commitment to be more transparen­t about public finances. Budgetary informatio­n is already published on Treasury’s website, but the portal contains easily accessible data in a user-friendly format, to enable more effective informatio­n sharing, analyses and research,” he explaines.

According to Best, Vulekamali supports involvemen­t by civil society and the public in budget processes and enables citizens to have informed discussion­s about government policies.

“If we ask the public to participat­e in budgetary processes and they come from a position of not knowing, they cannot make quality inputs. Secondly, we want the public to know how government spends money from the public purse,”

Best says.

For example, civil society organisati­ons often want to know how government renders services, how services are connected to the budget and whether national, provincial or local government is responsibl­e for specific services.

Best says amongst the stakeholde­rs involved in the project are the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; civil society coalition Imali Yethu; Global Initiative and the Government Technical

Advisory Centre.

At every level of decision making and on each governance structure, there is representa­tion of both government and civil society, he says.

Speaking on behalf of the civil society organisati­ons involved, Zukiswa Kota, the head of the Monitoring and Advocacy Programme at the Public Service Accountabi­lity Monitor

and lead co-ordinator of Imali Yethu, says accountabl­e budgetary processes are critical to a democracy. The ultimate goal is to influence better service delivery, she says.

“For us, access to quicker informatio­n means that you do not constantly have communitie­s upset and unaware of budget processes,” she says, adding that people have a better sense of the urgency required in commenting on budgets and they know who to speak to about their frustratio­ns.

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