Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been urged to eschew the tendency of turning such organizations into family properties, and to recruit professionals who would work to build good images for their organizations and contribute positively to Ghana's democratic development.
The Deputy Minister for Energy, Dr Mahammed Amin Adam, who made the call, also urged CSOs to institute sound accounting principles in the management of their organizations and publish their audited accounts to ensure that the public could scrutinize their activities and financial management, and establish a peer accountability framework that allowed for civil society to hold each other accountable.
Dr Adam, who was delivering the key note address at the launch of the One Oxfam Platform in Accra, yesterday, also admonished CSOs not to be partisan or display obstructionist tendencies, but to be bold, fearless and represent the determination to be mobilizers, thought leaders, generators of dissent, promoters of societal ideals and advocates for development.
He, however, commended CSOs for their active involvement in election monitoring since the beginning of Ghana's present democratic dispensation; provision of voter education; discussion of policy proposals; watchdog roles in analyzing government policies to ensure good and responsible governance; and for providing the platform for public accountability through revelations about the abuse of public office.
CSOs, he said, should, therefore, address their weaknesses, including mistrust between them and public officials that undermined their critical role in nation building and democratic development.
Mr Hamza Tijani, Oxfam in Ghana Country Director, in a welcome message, explained that the merger would adopt a one-Oxfam Country Strategy involving Economic Justice, Food Security and Agricultural Governance, Extractive Industry Governance, Financing Essential Services and Accountable Governance.
Mr Tijani disclosed that the Oxfam Country Strategy would be supported by a Country Operating Model--a document that would facilitate the identification and description of how to organize the resource functions, services and ways of working at country level in order to be able to deliver on their mandate in the most effective manner as specified in the Country Strategy.
In addition, he said, a Country Transition Plan, which detailed actions and processes to move from the affiliate-driven process to a One-Oxfam process in such areas as logistics, Information Technology, finance, programming and the human resource transition, had also been drawn.
On his part, Mr Sebastian Tiah, Head of Programmes, West Africa, said under the One Oxfam Platform, the Ghana programme would contribute to ensuring that it engaged with Government to maximize resources to fight inequalities, human rights abuses and to minimize the improper use of resources.
In his remarks, Prof. Joseph Roland Atsu Aryee, Chairman for the occasion, noted that no organization could accommodate the future without reform and that in unity lied strength.
Prof. Aryee said notwithstanding the challenges that the New Oxfam might encounter, the reform exercise should translate into increased productivity and reduce duplication, quality service delivery and excellence of partnerships.
He stressed the need for CSOs to deepen accountability and transparency in the extractive industry, empower vulnerable groups such as women, children and Persons with Disability (PWDs), and to work towards the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Africa Union (AU) Agenda 2063.
Oxfam is an international confederation of 19 affiliates working with partners in over 96 countries to end the injustices that cause poverty.
Oxfam, founded in Oxford, United Kingdom in 1942 by Cecil Jackson-Cole, derived its name from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief.
In Ghana, Oxfam first began tackling chronic water and sanitation issues in 1986 in West Mamprusi District of the Northern Region.
The One Oxfam Platform forms part of the Oxfam Change Management process which requires all Oxfam affiliates to operate under one management and country strategy to position the organization as a more agile and result-oriented one.
The new platform, comprising Oxfam United States of America, Oxfam Great Britain and Oxfam Denmark (IBIS), was launched on the theme: The relevance of CSOs in consolidating Ghana's democratic development agenda.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)