Launched in Johannesburg at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a multilateral, multi-stakeholder programme that seeks to improve the governance of the extractive sector globally. It seeks to do this principally through the joint publication of the payments made by companies to countries and the concomitant publication of the receipts of received by the respective country fiscus. These payments and receipts are independently audited under the auspices of a multi-stakeholder committee. To date, some 30 countries have signed up as implementing countries to the EITI. Of the 30 implementing countries, 21 are African. The first and to date only EITI compliant country is Azerbaijan which accepted as fully compliant in February 2009. While EITI candidate countries in Africa include Nigeria, the DRC, Guinea and Ghana, South Africa has not yet joined the EITI, nor has the government indicated an inclination or intention to do so. By contrast, a number of major South African corporations are supportive of the EITI.
Moreover a host of MNCs operating in South Africa are also supportive of the EITI. Yet South African NGOs and civil society including organised labour, has been relatively mute on the question. The exception to this disengagement is the South African chapter of Transparency International, the South African Institute of International Affairs and the Southern African Resource Watch.
The workshop was designed to provide a forum for a range of South African stakeholders to discuss the potential for and possibility of South Africa joining the EITI. These stakeholders included the Department of Minerals and Energy, Chairs of Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, the South African Chamber of Mines, Business Leadership South Africa, think tanks and civil society. Given the international and multilateral nature of the EITI, representatives from the multi-stakeholder committees of Nigeria and Ghana along with the Head of the EITI Secretariat participated in the workshop. Delegates from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia also attended the workshop. Although invited, the head of the EITI Indonesia was invited to provide a broader comparative experience; the representative was unable to travel at this time.