ODAC has internship opportunities available for interested persons. We require applicants with a an undergraduate qualification, as well as excellent written and spoken English. Our internship opportunities are available for a 2 month period full-time, or else for a minimum of 3 months part-time. Please note further that there is an obligatory closure of the office from 16 December until the first working day of January. If you are interested please send a covering letter expressing your interest, as well as a copy of your curriculum vitae, to ODAC at the email: radiyah[at]opendemocracy.org.za.
So what will your internship be like?
Jose Rivera's Testimonial - Harvard Law School
"I volunteered at ODAC from January 7-25, working primarily on a Right 2 Know project funded by the Ford Foundation. The work involved leveraging data available to the public under South Africa's freedom of information law, the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), into a useful program accessible to the public via an SMS platform. The project involved meetings with public officials from the City of Cape Town and with local leaders within informal settlements regarding the progress and planning of public housing developments. Alison Tilley and Gabriella Razzano provided me and the other interns with a great deal of independence when planning and executing the initial stages of this important project. The experience was highly educational, as I had little prior exposure to community activism and had to learn many things upon arrival. Alison and Gabi were an excellent source of support in this venture. I also worked on various other projects that were helpful to fulfilling ODAC's mission. Such projects included: making requests for information under PAIA; constructing an internal appeal for a refusal to disclose information under PAIA; and summarizing and analyzing key court decisions related to South Africa's constitutional right to access information. Additionally, Gabi and Alison took me and the other interns to litigation strategy meetings and workshops focused on refining skills related to human rights activism. Gabi was my closest direct supervisor and she did a wonderful job. She gave very clear instructions when assigning work and was responsive to questions and concerns. She provided a great deal of independence in projects, which made me feel a strong sense of ownership over my work. Gabi was also a wonderful person to be around. She brought levity to the office environment and spent several evenings out in Cape Town with me and the other interns. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to spend this time doing significant, meaningful work with such enjoyable company. The Western Cape is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and I highly recommend spending time here at ODAC to any interested international students".
Murtaza Hassonjee's Testimonial - Harvard Law School
"Working at ODAC over the past few weeks has been a great experience. As the term draws to a close, I know I will be sorry to leave and wish that I could have spent more time here. ODAC has been an amazing work environment in which our supervisors, Alison Tilley and Gabriella Razzano, have made us feel welcome and valued members of the ODAC team. The atmosphere is extremely collegial and relaxed and the staff is extremely dedicated to their work. It has been a model working environment.While we have been at ODAC, we have been able to work on a number of interesting and exciting projects. Our primary responsibility revolved around the creation of an SMS-based platform that would provide information on housing applications and project development to affected community members. As part of this project, we organized and attended meetings with community members and government officials, as well as conducting research on the historic and legal situations of the affected communities. Our supervisors granted us a significant amount of autonomy on executing the project, which was an exciting and sometimes nervous undertaking. This approach helped us develop valuable skills that are crucial to an NGO working environment. Even with this hands-on, independent working style, at no time did we feel like we could not ask for help or knock on a door, which was a result of how seamless our transition into the office was and how welcoming Gabi and Alison have been.Additionally, the work itself has been extremely rewarding. Our project aimed at making a very real difference in the lives of South African citizens that have few alternative resources. We also have had insight into the workings of government agencies and how best to hold them accountable to the constituents for whom they serve. We were also able to conduct legal research into the application and process of South African access to information laws and the interplay between a broad constitutional mandate and more restrictive government interpretations. Alison and Gabi also made sure to include us in other projects/meetings that they were working on, including an interviewing workshop, NGO meetings and test case strategy sessions. In my time here, I have had a broad range of projects exposing me to various aspects of the South African legal stage, from judicial decisions to government agencies to NGO work".
Michael Dvoracek (Intern 2011)
"I have nothing but positive memories of the experiences that I have had over the past 10 weeks while at ODAC. It seems like just yesterday that Beverly and I sat down with Mukelani, the Deputy Executive Director, to discuss the work that we would be assigned during our time here.
I conducted a large amount of research on freedom of information laws in Africa and around the world. This included formulating arguments regarding the right to internet being embedded within the right to information and additionally providing commentary on the agendas of other NGOs around Sub-Saharan Africa as they continue to advocate for increased freedom of expression rights in their law-making bodies. I enjoyed observing sessions of an ad-hoc parliamentary committee tasked with drafting a Protection of Information (Secrecy) law and Alison, ODAC’s Executive Director, also assigned me a project where I was to extract clauses relating to PAIA (Protection of Access to Information Act) from South African environmental law to be compiled for comparative analysis with other countries around the world.
Another one of the highlights of my time at ODAC was definitely being sent to Polokwane in Limpopo Province with Emma to assist in the presentation of a workshop regarding the Protected Disclosures Act. We educated members of various trade unions on how they can best use statute to their advantage when blowing the whistle on corruption in the workplace. While this opportunity was extremely professionally enriching, the greatest takeaway was the cultural and political experience of going to a more remote area of South Africa and interacting with members of COSATU, The Congress of South African Trade Unions. The COSATU members were cautiously attentive, especially as we fielded questions that were oftentimes very politically charged. Little did I know that learning how to drive on the left-hand side of the street would not be the largest hurdle of the trip.
Above all, the best part of my time in Cape Town was getting to know all of the members of the ODAC team. I will miss staff meetings on Monday mornings more than anything (except maybe lunches at the Eastern Food Bazaar). Further, sharing an office with my comrades, Tobela, Mkhululi, and Ronald, remained perennially entertaining as we exchanged lighthearted banter about everything from workshops in Khayelitsha and the KZN (pronounced "kay-zed-en") to our favorite lunch spots.
I would highly recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in coming to Cape Town and learning more about South African law and politics".
Beverly Vu ( Intern 2011)
"I have worked at ODAC for 2 months now, starting in May and ending in July. As my final day approaches, I can honestly say that I will be sad to go. During my time here in Cape Town I have been exposed to many interesting and important issues regarding open and transparent governance. Best of all, ODAC has shown me how one small NGO can make a difference. Members of this office have been caring, funny, dedicated, and have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome in Cape Town (whether it be by sharing food and videos or yoga recommendations). ODAC has a very collegial atmosphere and it is clear that everyone is passionate about his or her work. I was especially impressed by the many projects my director, Alison Tilley, and supervisor, Mukelani Dimba, are involved in and I am sure it is through their direction that ODAC has been as successful as it is, with growing international recognition.
While at ODAC I worked on several projects. I wrote a brief regarding international standpoints on public interest defenses, looked at the effect of amicus curiae participation in bilateral investment treaty arbitrations and its implications on civil society involvement, researched freedom of expression laws in the workplace, assisted with surveys of freedom of expression and access to information laws, and regularly attended parliamentary deliberations on the Protection of Information (Secrecy) Bill. My work was varied and challenging, and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to tap into many different areas of law.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at ODAC and in the beautiful city of Cape Town. I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone coming to Cape Town".
2010 ( Soccer Year) ODAC welcomed 2 interns from Harvard Law School
"I was a volunteer intern at ODAC from June-August 2010. I am currently a law student at Harvard Law School in the U.S., about to enter my second year of study (it’s a 3-year graduate degree).
Over the past several months, I was involved in two main projects. The first was a project for Mukelani, the Deputy Executor here at ODAC. Mukelani is doing research on access to information laws and policies in several other African countries. Because I studied French in college, he had me research this issue in the DRC and write a descriptive report. Most of the reading I did for my research was in French. I compiled a 30-page report, finding that (1) the laws/constitutional provisions protecting the right to information in the DRC are nonexistent, shaky, or simply not implemented; (2) citizens do not know they can request information from the government or how to do so; (3) citizens are preoccupied with more vital, “life or death” concerns, such as physical security. I ultimately concluded that it is not likely that DRC citizens currently make or will soon make requests to the government for information. I also assisted Mukelani by translating some correspondence and documents from English into French so that he could communicate with another organization in the DRC.
The second major project I was involved with concerned victim empowerment policies in South Africa and the feasibility of enacting victim empowerment legislation. I attended weekly meetings with Alison Tilley, the Executive Director of ODAC, and others involved with the project from Rape Crisis Centre and the Women’s Legal Centre. After researching the relevant policies in South Africa and international trends in victim services treaties and legislation, I wrote a policy piece proposing a more proactive system of providing information to victims of crimes, arguing for victim empowerment legislation that specifically confers upon victims the automatic right to be updated about the progress of their case, whether or not they have specifically requested that information.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience volunteering at ODAC and living in Cape Town. I recommend working at the organization to anyone with an interest in freedom of information policy".
James Robert Kinngman (Jim)
"I volunteered at ODAC as an intern and researcher during my summer break between my first and second years at Harvard Law School. Though it was winter in Cape Town—much different than the Texas summers I am used to in June and July—the experience allowed me to enjoy the city during the World Cup while working on accountable and transparent governance matters. The office is small and each person has their own set of projects, so over the course of my time here I worked on many different issues.
For my first assignment, I wrote part of an Amicus Curiae brief for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding the right to truth for the families of Brazilian guerillas disappeared by the military junta in the 1970s. In addition to sifting through international law, this required me to learn the Constitutional framework behind the Promotion of Access to Information Act and the Protected Disclosures Act. I also prepared a literature review on the state of Access of Information laws in Zambia and Uganda. The Protection of Information Bill and the Protection of Personal Information Bill are both progressing through Parliament, so on days of important presentation or deliberation, I would go observe the process. I drafted a few memos regarding the use of ‘public interest,’ ‘national interest,’ and other terms related to the legislation.
Throughout the summer I researched the role of free speech laws in the workplace throughout the world. I helped grade and compile the Golden Key Awards, the recognition that ODAC confers on organizations that have distinguished themselves with transparent and accountable processes, as well as helping to design a study on the connection between the application of South African access to information laws and primary education".