Creating A Culture Of Supporting Whistleblowing

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Do people feel safe to speak up? Is our leadership supportive of our vision of a fair and open society? These questions cut to the core of our prime cause: creating the ideal environment for exposing and managing harmful actions – and protecting those who are brave enough to step forward against these actions. 

 

Your Safety Is Our Priority 

Though it is true that many are discouraged from uttering the first word against unlawful and dangerous actions for fear of being victimised, whistleblowing remains a key means of exposing flaws in the system. The more issues are brought to light, the easier it becomes to identify patterns and pockets of corruption, and then doctor them accordingly.

 The Protected Disclosures Act (PDA) exists to shield whistleblowers from any kind of victimisation, from discrimination to unfair dismissal. We are proud of the fact that the recent positive amendments to the PDA are, in part, the result of over 15 years of advocacy by ODAC.

We have been working tirelessly for many years to fight the stigmas around reporting wrongdoing by providing individuals and organisations with access to the right information, and advocating for best practices. 

The second edition of The Code of Good Practice, our easy-to-follow guide to whistleblowing best practices, includes these new amendments, and covers everything one would need to know in order to safely disclose information, what to consider prior to disclosure, and which steps to take in your pursuit of justice.

 Click here to download The Code of Good Practice for free.

Keeping Whistleblowers Safe In The Workplace

Establishing a safe environment for whistleblowing within an organisation gives rise to many benefits. These include nurturing an open workplace culture that naturally rules out wrongdoing, contributing to effectively handling reported incidents, and improving company performance through learning and honest dialogue. This, however, begins with implementing a detailed and considered whistleblowing policy.

A good employer should always ensure that their employees know which whistleblowing policies have been put in place, and that they are protected by the PDA, and supported by the organisation.

Get In Touch To Drive Change From Within

If you would like to ensure that your company has solid whistleblowing mechanisms in place, or require guidance for making disclosure, please contact ODAC.

Whistleblower Helpline:  0800 52 53 52 (toll-free)

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

State of Access to Information in Africa 2017

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ODAC are exceptionally excited to launch our latest research on the state of access to information in Africa.

In 2016 UNESCO officially adopted 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information. The Day was adopted after intense lobbying by ODAC and the other members of the African Platform on Access to Information Working Group. To mark the Day in 2017, and to reflect on developments in the state of access to information in Africa, this study has been launched as a development on a 2014 study done on a similar methodology.

And some of the results are fascinating. The study covers twelve countries: Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Using the African Model Law we were able to develop a methodology for reviewing access to information laws. South Africa's law for instance received a reasonable 78%, which is unsurprising given how it has traditionally been lauded as a strong law. However, Malawi's new law received a 77%. It is worth noting then that – except for South Africa – the top three scoring African laws (Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania) all come into being after the AU Model Law, with the bottom four scoring laws (Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) all coming into being prior to the AU Model Law being drafted.

And, as we know, the strength of a law is not enough to ensure that access to information is a reality. The existence of an ATI law is a necessary, but insufficient, step for ensuring a positive access to information environment. Problems with the implementation of ATI laws often cited a lack of awareness of the laws, and weak political will for implementation, as key inhibitors. Both of these factors highlight the important role ATI activists must play in developing the positive discourse around ATI to both encourage users, as well as bureaucratic and administrative actors.

There is also generally a very weak implementation of proactive disclosure, and low levels of utilisation of Internet and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to facilitate access. Both of these indicators make the reality of open government data, in particular, a problematic area on the continent. Proactive disclosure and open data are vital avenues for access – particularly when we consider the non-existence or weakness of laws, coupled with discriminatory access practices.

A further identified trend is that not a single country cited a practice in the domestic contexts that demonstrated a presumption of openness. While some countries have laws, which provide such a presumption – practice does not correspond with this obligation.

So, how best might you be able to use this report?

  • Each country comes with a one page summary for easy circulation.
  • Each country also has a slightly longer detailed analysis.
  • The report as a whole can be read as a snapshot of the access to information environment.
  • There is also some trends analysis over the twelve countries considered together.

You can download the report here.

An example of the South African summary can be seen below:

ODAC visits Namibia

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- By Lorraine Martin

ODAC have just begun a project this year which looks to building an African Whistleblowing Network, with the support of the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.  We plan on working in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Malawi.  The goal of this project is to build the technical capacities of the Network to influence policies that encourage a culture conducive to whistleblowing.  I began by visiting Namibia.

On my arrival in Windhoek on Thursday 20 July 2017 I was whisked off to a business lunch at the Fresh and Wild Utopia restaurant in Nelson Mandela Street in Windhoek where I met with the Executive Director of The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), the Strategic Coordinator of Namibia Media Trust , the Programme Coordinator, at FESmedia,  the, chairperson of ACTION Namibia and the head of Legal Assistance Centre (LAC). 

The conversation centred on our respective whistleblowing laws.  Namibia has a Whistleblowing Bill which is in the final stages of passage through Parliament.  South Africa has had a law since 2000 and an amendment bill has just been passed by Parliament. [Director's note: we are busy doing a refresh of our Code of Good Practice accordingly, and will soon launch a campaign to inform the broader public of the changes, most of which are terrific!]

The organisations mentioned above have been very active in providing input to the passing of the Namibian Bill.  These organisations also form part of a coalition called the ACTION Coalition. The ACTION Coalition is an umbrella body under which a range of activists and civil society and media organisations are gathered in the furtherance of the cause of access/right to information and freedom of expression. The ACTION Coalition has been in existence since 2012 and has consistently engaged both the Namibian Government, and its development partners, on the issue of ATI over the years.

The following morning the Executive Director of the IPPR and I were interviewed on Good Morning Namibia, a breakfast television programme about whistleblowing in our countries. After that we were the presenters at a breakfast seminar at the Nice Restaurant in central Windhoek where the topic was: "Effective whistleblower protections are key to open democracies". The nature and extent of these protections shape the individual’s and the media’s ability to keep public and private institutions accountable. Together, how can we forward a culture of transparency and accountability to meet the needs of citizens? The attendees were mainly members of civil society organisations and media organisations.  Lively discussions followed our presentations.  It is clear that Namibia has a strong civil society and that the whistleblowing legislation is being followed very closely, and will be monitored once the law is enacted.

At about 11h30 I appeared on another television programme called "1 to 1". This was a pre-recorded programme which aired in the evening.  The presenter said that he styled his programme on Hard Talk and he played devil’s advocate quite a bit, which was good because I realised how I was able to defend ODAC’s position on whistleblowing.

Later that evening I bid Namibia goodbye, happy in the knowledge that I had met people who were passionate about whistleblowing protections and happy to be a part of the African Whistleblowing Network.