Directors

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.

Olmo leads the DWF Team on a day-to-day basis. He also sits on the DWF Malawi and Botswana Board of Directors.

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.

Rahim KhanLinkedIn

Chairperson DWF Botswana

Abdool Rahim Khan has been an attorney since 1977. He was admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa (T.P.D.) in 1977 and as an attorney of the High Court of Botswana in 1981. Rahim has been in private practice from 1982 to date. He was a law lecturer at the University of Botswana from 1980 to 1982 and a part-time lecturer with Barclays Bank of Botswana from 1984 to 1985. He has been an acting chief magistrate of Gaborone in 2000 (September to December), 2002 (March to June), 2003 (January to April) and 2012 (March to May). He is the Chairperson of the Botswana Legal Aid Board, Botswana Railways Properties Board, Basil Read Botswana, Norilsk (Botswana), and Auto Sueco (Botswana), amongst others. He is a former honorary Swedish consul to Botswana (2007 to 2012). He currently serves as an acting-judge in Botswana. He is a board member of Freedom Under Law, a South African nongovernmental organisation and of the Southern Africa Litigation Center.

Ambassador Ron Nkomba

Chairperson of DWF Malawi

Ambassador Ron Nkomba (Rtd), became the first Malawian Clerk to the Cabinet in August, 1969. He transferred to the Ministry of External Affairs in 1972 where, in 1975, he was appointed as Malawi’s Chief of Protocol. Ambassador Nkomba was, in December 1978, appointed Malawi’s High Commissioner to the Republic of Kenya. He returned to Malawi in August, 1981 to serve as Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of Local Government, Transport and Communications, and of Health. From 1985 to 1990, Ambassador Nkomba served as Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Nkomba was, in December 1991, appointed Malawi Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, with non-resident Accreditation to Austria, the Kingdom of Denmark, Switzerland, and the Vatican (Holy See). He returned to Malawi in March, 1995 and was in September, 1996 appointed Chairman of the Working Committee which established Malawi’s second Public University – the Mzuzu University. From 2006 t0 2007 Ambassador Nkomba was a Commissioner in the Special Law Commission on the Review of the Malawi Constitution.

From January, 2008 to January, 2012 Ambassador Nkomba served as an Electoral Commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission. Currently, Ambassador Ron Nkomba is involved in the establishment of the National Peace Architecture (NPA) which will culminate in the launching of the Malawi Peace Commission. (MPC).

Ambassador Roosevelt GondweLinkedIn

Director DWF Malawi

Roosevelt Gondwe is a Malawian lawyer with extensive experience in capacity building and facilitation. He has worked largely with Members of Parliament and Parliamentary Staff focusing on governance and democracy for Parliament and reputable management institutions in the Southern Africa region, namely the Malawi Institute of Management, and the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute.

Until 2015, he served in various public service capacities namely as Clerk of the Parliament of Malawi responsible for advising the Speaker and House on parliamentary law and practice and administering the House and staff under the direction of the Speaker; as Chief Elections Officer (1994-1999 and 2004) at the Malawi Electoral Commission responsible for administering the electoral cycle within the electoral laws and practices of Malawi; and  as Ambassador for Malawi in Japan, responsible for representing Malawi in its diplomatic relations  and negotiations with Japan and other countries of accreditation between 2005 and 2010. He currently consults on legislative strengthening.

I believe the quality of democracy is enhanced when it delivers between elections.

Reverend Patrick SemphereLinkedIn

Director DWF Malawi

Patrick Semphere is a consultant in media and communication management; organizational development and family enrichment. He has over twenty years’ experience at operational, management as well as consultancy levels in Malawi as well as in the East and Southern Region of Africa, with specific projects in Kenya, Lesotho, Zambia and Malawi.  He consults widely for UN agencies—UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP and ILO. He has also managed donor-funded media projects with World Bank, British High Commission, Commonwealth Education Fund, Canadian International Development Agency, Family Health International and Norwegian Church Aid. He was National Director of Trans World Radio for 8 years during which he coordinated radio projects in collaboration with international NGOs and as UN agencies.

He moderated three rounds of the  2014 first-ever presidential debates. These took place in Lilongwe and Blantyre. He also served as President of the Media Council of Malawi (2007-2014). He has served as Commissioner for Malawi Human Rights Commission (2016-2018) specifically responsible for the implementation of the Access to Information Act of 2017. He also serves as Communication Specialist for the Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project (MESIP). He has in-depth experience in the development of communication strategies and his clientele includes Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare; Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Industry & Trade; Farmers Union of Malawi MUSCCO and Plan Malawi.

Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.