Having breakfast with British Prime Minister David Cameron is not something just anyone gets to do. On the eve of the G8 summit in June 2013, Cameron invited six ‘champions of transparency’ to 10 Downing Street. One of them was Rakesh Rajani, head of Twaweza, an initiative to enhance access to information, citizen agency, and public accountability in East Africa that is implemented under the responsibility of Hivos..
John Githongo, the former Kenyan ‘anti-corruption tsar,” Juliana Rotich of Making All Voices Count, Hivos partner Ushahidi and Nobel laureate Tawakul Karman were also amongst the select group. They urged the British Prime Minister to keep transparency high on the agenda. Specifically, they advocated for measures to counter tax evasion, which adversely affects low-income countries, and argued for a public “company register” to address the corrupt practices of companies that operate in secret.
Rakesh Rajani knows like no one the positive impact transparency and public access to government information can have on people’s lives. “Information is power. Power to call corrupt leaders to account,” he said after the meeting. “I asked Cameron, as a member of the G8, to work much more on using openness as a means of following money trails. The G8 countries should begin by putting their own houses in order and tackling the tax havens fat cats use to evade taxes. Only then will countries like Tanzania be able to make maximum use of their public funds to escape poverty.”
Transparency can make the difference between a classroom with or without textbooks and whether people have clean drinking water. Transparency and accountability are also two essential elements of ‘good governance’ – an elusive principle that is very hard to enforce in a top-down fashion.
Hivos supports partners who operate through a bottom-up, citizen-led approach that concentrates on four themes: a citizen’s right to information; a government’s duty to deliver essential services; collective election monitoring; and anti-corruption campaigns. Read more about what Hivos does to further transparency and accountability.