By Andrew Kudakwashe Dube, Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Disability Alliance (ADA)
A fiscal agent for all partners and taxpayers? Yes, initially successfully located in the North and subsequently located in the global South with a responsibility to serve the work of the Beyond 2015 Campaign on all continents. While the flow of development aid and finance is usually from the North (developed countries) to the South (developing countries), the Beyond 2015 Campaign chose, on merit and after a competitive process, a unique organisation as its fiscal agent: the Africa Disability Alliance (ADA) based in Pretoria, South Africa.
In addition to being located in the South, there were other dimension to this uniqueness that are worth mentioning. The role of the Beyond Campaign fiscal agent was led and managed by marginalised people themselves, persons with a broad range of disabilities. For once in the history of international development frameworks, persons that are supposed to benefit from such a framework (and are often marginalised, forgotten or ‘add-ons’) had an opportunity to provide leadership and play a critical role in ensuring that the resources contributed by development partners and tax payers from different countries are well-managed. The partners and taxpayers were committed to the objective of an inclusive development framework in which the needs of the poor and vulnerable populations were prioritised.
The uniqueness, wisdom and foresight that guided the decision of Beyond 2015 to appoint a Southern fiscal agent extended beyond simply the ability to perform this function. Two audit firms, from Sweden and South Africa, appointed to verify governance and implementation of policies made very positive conclusions and recommendations. Financial audits were concluded without qualifications and yes, the final evaluation of the Beyond 2015 Campaign made very positive findings and highlighted risks inherent in the role of a fiscal agent which had to be expertly managed in order to deliver a successful campaign.
If the story of the Beyond 2015 Campaign’s two fiscal agents can be linked to the best case scenario for poor and marginalised groups as the implementation of the now-adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gathers momentum, the partners and taxpayers, from all countries, will remain largely in place and hopefully committed to the achievement of all the SDGs. Yes, at this moment in our history all partners and taxpayers have to deal with difficult economic, political, social and other challenges faced by both rich and poor people.
Climate change, diseases, refugees/migration challenges, conflict, increased taxation and inter-generational changes/ challenges in giving/philanthropy and ageing populations all represent increasing demand for resources. Will the poor and marginalised population groups still be remembered for the excellent contribution that they make to humanity and society?
The Beyond 2015 fiscal agent is gone, deposited in the comfortable space of campaign history. The fiscal agent will, in the majority of cases, be replaced by governments who will be motivated by several factors, among them a genuine desire to achieve progress in the implementation of the SDGs complete with the call of ‘leave no one behind’! Other governments will be motivated by the need for political/economic gains/power, misuse of resources with no commitment to improving the quality of life of their citizens. Some have, unfortunately, failed their audits and their accounts (largely funded by partners/taxpayers) are frozen.
Someone, a First Lady, told her audience recently that ‘–voters deserve the governments they vote for–’. Really? What if governments change after elections that are often accompanied by high levels of politicking, promises, dance moves and revolutionary songs that accompany modern day electioneering? Are voters or poor people to blame for poor performance of government? I guess the First Lady would have answered by asserting the fact that people have the right to choose, determine, shape and change their destiny. I love diplomacy!
To conclude, success and progress lies in the implementation/achievement of the SDGs, and the various treaties and agreements that are already in place or will be adopted in future to guarantee the rights of all people, including the poor and marginalised population groups. As for the Beyond 2015 fiscal agent in the global South, now evaluated, audited and firmly placed in the history books of the campaign, the struggle for human rights continues. Although politics is clearly not our strength, we are available for selection or election to future roles that serve future campaigns, including that of government itself!
Chief Executive Officer of ADA