Sisonke MsimangTwitterLinkedInURL

With a background in funding non-profit organisations fighting for democratic change in Africa, Msimang has become a powerful advocate for the better use of money and power on her continent. She writes about money, power and sex. She is the former executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

To read publications by Sisonke Msimang on our website please click here.

I believe that democracy is endogenous to African societies. For too long we have used the language and tools of the West which has created a false impression that accountability, transparency and governance are inherently foreign ideas. Democracy matters because it is as African as it is Greek, and as crucial to our political lives as oxygen is to all of humanity.

William GumedeTwitter

Executive Chairperson

William Gumede is Associate Professor, School of Governance at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is Executive Chairperson of Democracy Works Foundation and former Deputy Editor of The Sowetan newspaper.

During the anti-apartheid struggle, Gumede held several leadership positions in South African student, civics and trade union movements. He was a political violence mediator and area coordinator for the National Peace Committee during the multiparty negotiations for a democratic South Africa and was seconded to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is the author of several number 1 bestsellers. His more recent books include: Restless Nation: Making Sense of Troubled Times (Tafelberg); and South Africa in BRICS – Salvation or Ruination (Tafelberg).

To read publications by William Gumede on our website please click here.

Democracy in developing and African countries is unlikely to be sustainable without the democratisation of their markets and the economies either. In fact the sustainability of democracy in developing countries will depend on governments democratising both the state and the market.

Njeri KabeberiTwitterLinkedIn

Njeri Kabeberi was appointed as Greenpeace Africa Executive Director in September 2015. Before her appointment, she served as CEO of the Civil Society Reference Group in Kenya.

Until 2014 Njeri was the programme coordinator for the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy in Kenya and Director of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-K), Kenya. In the aftermath of the troubled 2007 elections, CMD-K played an eminent role in fostering a multi-actor dialogue. Her past work includes being part of the Citizens Coalition for Constitutional Change and Development Coordinator for East & Southern Africa at Amnesty International. She is a former First chair of the pressure group, Release Political Prisoners and past board member of the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Njeri is a recipient of the Democracy Ribbon in the Netherlands for her commitment to human rights and democracy in Kenya most notably after the conflicts that arose following the 2007/2008 elections. She succeeded in bringing various parties together and building bridges for the advancement of democracy in Kenya. She has also received a Humanity Award by the Frankfurt Chamber of Lawyers in Germany.

Heather SonnTwitterLinkedIn

Heather Sonn is the Managing Director of Gamiro Investment Holdings, a company that focuses on investments and building businesses in the energy, agriculture and specialist financial services sectors. She is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative, which is part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and is a global moderator for the Aspen Institute.

Sonn has also worked in national social cohesion projects aimed at increasing the strength of South Africa’s democracy and lobbying government and the social justice sector on various aspects of policy. She started her career completing the Investment Banking Analyst Programme at Merrill Lynch, New York and has held senior executive positions in investment management, stockbroking and banking industries, including as the deputy CEO of the largest women’s investment company in South Africa, Wipcapital that served over 200,000 women beneficiaries via its Trusts. She was also a senior executive of Barclays in London.

Olmo von MeijenfeldtTwitterLinkedIn

Executive Director

Olmo is Executive Director and co-Founder of Democracy Works Foundation. He has worked as a political networker, analyst, social entrepreneur, development practitioner and innovative manager on issues of human rights and democratisation in both Africa and Europe. He has spearheaded various leadership, democracy building and conflict resolution initiatives, in addition to managing funds dedicated to strengthening the role of civil society, political society and media through cross-sector approaches to deepening democracy.

His key interests lie in civil society sustainability and funding mechanisms for governance, human rights and democracy work in Africa and the global South, conflict management, institutions, leadership development, technology for development and climate and environmental issues.

To read publications by Olmo von Meijenfeldt on our website please click here. To view his tags please click here.

Democracy building is and must be an ongoing process, whether in South Africa or the EU. It is never ‘finished’, as older democracies show. Investing in democracy takes time, vision and long-term commitment. The returns don't necessarily show overnight, perhaps not even in our lifetime. It is a political development process that should involve all sectors of society.

Busi DlaminiTwitter

Busi Dlamini is an independent consultant specialising in facilitation and training services. A former director of Dignity International, Dlamini now works closely with social innovators and has led groundbreaking research into complex social issues using systems thinking methodology.

As we celebrate 20 years of the promulgation of our constitution, which is hailed as one of the most progressive in the world, this is a good time to reflect on what of our new democracy works and what we need to improve. If the past 20 years have taught us anything it is that the institutions created at the dawn of democracy in South Africa can only be effective if citizens are involved.

Mosa TshabalalaTwitterLinkedIn

Mosa Tshabalala is a Chartered Accountant by profession. She started her career at Deloitte and Touche, Johannesburg in Assurance, before joining the Deloitte Management Consulting business unit in the Strategy and Innovation division. In pursuit of a career that would allow her to apply her financial skills to contribute towards formalising the largely informal economic community of South Africa, Mosa joined the Awethu Project Business Incubator as the Chief Financial Officer.

The Awethu Project exposed Mosa to the energy and potential that South Africa’s under skilled youth has which led to Mosa joining Arc Skills Africa (part of the GEMS Education Group), in her position as Head of the Business Development and now as Senior Manager - Finance for the group’s Africa Skills business.

The ability for democracy to work efficiently requires a concerted effort of citizens to be educated on their rights and take active responsibility to think for themselves. The importance of democracy is to protect individuals, minorities and communities in the participation of their freedom.