Origins of ECSECC
ECSECC was established in 1995 within a historical context characterized by a number of deep rooted political, economic and social problems confronted by the first democratically elected government in South Africa and the province of the Eastern Cape. The period was marked by the beginning of a generalized but incomplete transformation of the provincial government and the provincial economy.
At the time of the establishment of ECSECC the national political climate was characterised by the hegemony of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) a political culture committed to evolving new forms of development cooperation between government, labour, organised business and developmental non-governmental organizations.
Within this context, ECSECC was constituted as an inclusive council comprising representatives from provincial government, the labour movement, organised business and the NGO sector. Since 2006, the council has additional representation from local government and institutions of higher learning.
The principal goals of ECSECC is to advise and assist government and other ECSECC stakeholders to achieve an integrated development strategy for the Province and its constituent regions in order to address the socio-economic development of the Province in terms of the RDP, and in particular, the needs of deprived communities and underdeveloped areas.
More specific strategic objectives, as stated in the founding document of ECSECC include the following:
- Facilitate and coordinate the implementation of development programmes between all key stakeholders in the Province of the Eastern Cape;
- Facilitate development by providing an avenue for formal inputs into the policy-making process of government;
- Support government in advancing efficient service delivery;
- To empower communities and the grassroots structures of civil society to engage in development; and
- Assist the provincial government in developing policies and strategies that will facilitate the growth of the provincial economy.
15 years of ECSECC
Since 1995, the national and provincial political, social and economic context has changed. The RDP was replaced by the Growth Employment and Redistribution programme in 1996. The Eastern Cape remains mired in apartheid legacy; widespread and deep structural poverty, rampant inequality, with East London recently estimated to be one of the most unequal cities in the world. Cities and regional town centres are growing, both in population and in the services available to the population, but the spatial patters created by Apartheid largely remain. From 2005, the vision of a Developmental State has taken centre stage.
However, government remains the largest employer in the Eastern Cape and one of the largest contributors to the provincial economy. Local Government has been consolidated, but due to the divisive political history of South Africa, still faces major challenges in both providing services and in being central to democratic politics at local level.
It is these social, political and economic context that ECSECC works within, and that it strives to change with whatever means are within its reach.
What ECSECC does
The mandate and objectives of ECSECC are still deemed relevant and ECSECC remains committed to evolving new forms of development cooperation between government, organised labour, organised business, developmental non-governmental organisations, higher education and other learning institutions. These partnerships take a multitude of forms, from consultative processes and forums, to joint project and programme development and implementation, training and capacity development programmes, research and information sharing, and sometimes conflict mediation.
While ECSECC is committed to fostering dialogue and deliberation about development, we recognise that there are deep social divisions that cannot be overcome by debate, but only by concerted struggle and mobilisation. We promote a policy agenda that aims to address the structural causes for persistent poverty and inequality, and end the reproduction of privilege for the few.
More specifically, ECSECCs activities include: Policy and Strategy Development
ECSECC develops policy, strategy and programmes that contribute to social and economic transformation in the Eastern Cape and South Africa. Policy, strategy and plans are developed for provincial and local government, and support the 2004-2014 Provincial Growth and Development Plan. ECSECCs work includes not only strategy development, but also review of strategy implementation and ensuring that interest groups are consulted on direction and content of strategy. Project conceptualisation, packaging and planning
In order to ensure strategic and plans are put into action, ECSECC is involved in project conceptualisation, packaging and planning. This work is always done in collaboration with government departments and entities or non government institutions. Promoting alternatives in service delivery
Supporting provincial and local government to promote improvements and alternatives in service delivery. Here, ECESCC supports departmental and municipal planning processes, performance analysis and development of new programmes and approaches to service delivery. We are particularly concerned with service delivery to poor and underserviced communities, and government’s capacity to deliver in these areas. Development facilitation and policy dialogues
Policy dialogue underpins most of ECSECCs policy and planning related work. One of ECSECCs core tasks is to provide facilitation service to its stakeholders and ECSECC has a competent team of facilitators that are always in demand across the province. Various forms of development facilitation and policy dialogue contribute to spreading awareness and information and generating knowledge about national, provincial and local development processes.
ECSECC has long been running ‘policy dialogue’ seminars in different forms. ECSECC’s various forms of policy dialogue range from public lectures, workshops or seminar for select groups or organisations, or selected reference groups and speak directly to our mandate and strategic objectives. This includes empowerment of civil-society and other structures, providing platforms for discussion and engagement between government and other actors, and facilitation of inputs into policy making processes.Information and Knowledge Generation
ECSECC is the main provider of socio-economic data and information to institutions in the Eastern Cape. ECSECC supports stakeholders in distributing and making accessible a wide range of information, and engages in strategic research. ECSECC houses an “information hub” of planning, monitoring and research in the Eastern Cape. ECSECC’s flagship publications in this regard are the District Socio-Economic profiles. Each wave of the ECSECC profiles have evolved into more detailed and focussed assessments of Socio-economic development realities in the Eastern Cape with the 2009 profiles sharpening the spatial focus down to ward level.
ECSECC has GIS capability for interactive and static maps, and can assist stakeholders in this regard.
The ECSECC resource centre is located in King Williams Town and stocks books, journals and research information about social and economic development in the Eastern Cape, as well as government information such as Integrated Development Plans, departmental plans and reports. There is online access to international research and journal databases a computer and internet facility for research purposes.
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