Cape Town Mayor, Western Cape Premier and Partners Confirm the Value of Partnership and Collaboration

Author: Kate Ribet

The EDP marks its tenth anniversary with a dialogue on the critical need for partnering and collaboration to solve South Africa’s development challenges

Despite the many strategies, policies and plans, implementation is often ineffective in South Africa. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are on the increase, while levels of public confidence, cohesion and trust continue to erode. As a collaborative intermediary organisation, the EDP supports partners to work together cohesively to turn plans into tangible results through action. 

At our tenth anniversary commemoration in April 2022, the EDP’s CEO Andrew Boraine joined Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, City of Cape Town Executive Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and Lebo Nke, Chief Cultural Officer of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in a dialogue facilitated by Estelle Cloete to explore the critical need for partnering and collaboration to solve our country’s most pressing development challenges.

Watch the highlights from the discussion.

While each panellist contributed their personal insights on the need for and value of collaboration to bring about meaningful change – all confirmed that partnering is the only way to address the complex, deep-seated issues facing our country today. 

  • “I’ve got no doubt that partnerships work. If you can get the collaboration to work, you can make massive differences.” Premier Alan Winde
  • “There’s no way that government could approach complex problems like housing, thinking that you’ve got a monopoly on the truth or a monopoly of good ideas. If you approach those complex problems with that attitude, you will achieve nothing.” Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis
  • “The philosophy that [Harambee] started with from day one is that it takes a village to solve complex issues like youth unemployment, this takes more than one entity to achieve.” Lebo Nke, Harambee

Yet convening and partnering alone is not enough: careful attention needs to be paid to the existing organisational culture in each partner institution. Government bodies, businesses, communities and even academia are all informed by their own unique views, values, norms and hierarchical systems which can lead to resistance against chance amongst individual members.

  • “I think you’ve got to engender a culture or an attitude of humility that starts with figuring out where you can get the best answer, and having an attitude in policy making and in government that says part of our role is not starting off with having the best answer, but saying who are the partners that we can go to?”  Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis 
  • “Leadership for me is number one. Having leaders in an organisation that say but also do, who can emulate what they’re talking about. […] It’s also the little things like being able to have coffee with the people that you don’t like or work with on the daily basis. It is ways of communicating, how you design your space. Does it actually say that we are collaborative on everything?” Lebo Nke, Harambee

The crucial role played by intermediary organisations like the EDP in convening stakeholders for effective collaboration, especially in the presence of fractured partnerships, cannot be overstated. Convening intermediaries help to gather everyone around the same table and support open collaboration to improve relationships and encourage knowledge-sharing with the goal to develop joint solutions. 

  • “I think you always need a convener, especially with fractured partnerships, because you don’t get together ordinarily around the table or even pick up the phone to talk to each other […] If there’s a crisis, whether it was the drought with Day Zero approaching, or feeding people during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was the EDP team, just pulling all the players together, playing that catalytic role.” Premier Alan Winde
  • “What we learned [at the EDP] is to focus on partner solutions in a more discreet and less abstract way and go down to where the problem is. And it’s either an area based partnering solution at different scales or an issue based partnering solution around different themes, like water or energy or waste, safety or whatever it is. And that became far more effective.” Andrew Boraine, EDP
  • “I think that there aren’t single truths in this game. And I think that there aren’t single smart ideas… it’s about how you then bring everyone together to be able to see that.” Lebo Nke, Harambee