Koketso Moeti's blog
The phrase ‘it starts with the person in the mirror’ is often used as a call to action. A way of telling us we should be the change we want to see. It’s a cliché that’s inspired many into doing some great things, be it cleaning up their environment or even volunteering for a good cause. But I believe we only grasp the phrase at surface level, ignoring the deeper meaning it possesses. When we think of the person in the mirror we shouldn’t only translate it as a call to action, we should start by thinking about our motives and interrogating why we want to take action.
I have attended many conferences, where various organisations provided attendees with well covered and attractive annual reports. These reports are also very often made available on their websites, making them accessible to a larger audience. This effort aimed at encouraging transparency and accountability is well-intended and applauded. It is essential that the nonprofit sector not only preach accountability, but also walk the talk, leading by example.
The words ‘competition’ and ‘competitive’ are increasingly being used to address the nonprofit sector, something which should both shame and alarm us all. As a sector, irrespective of our different areas of focus, our collective mandate is to facilitate an environment which uplifts human lives and we should not be competing to do that. Instead, we should be looking for ways to support each other in the achievement of this collective mandate.
Within the South African context there seems to be a lot of confusion about who civil society is and what it means. The term is often used loosely, which just deepens the confusion.
In my opinion though, all of us are civil society. There is a view that business people and politicians are not civil society, but they are. None of us are defined by our work and so within our personal capacity, we all make up the society of South Africa.
A few weeks ago, Sun City employees downed tools after discovering that the resort’s management had allegedly installed hidden cameras, without informing workers. This subsequently led to dismissal of hundreds of workers, accused by Sun City of ‘stealing food and beverages’.
During the strike, workers were shot at leading to the admission of three people into hospital, with one of them in a critical state after being shot with live ammunition.
For over eight years, I have volunteered, worked for and worked with a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). As such, I truly understand the value of a strong civil society, as it does have a very important role to play in the creation of positive change. I have also however had to disengage from some organisations because I have strongly felt that they play a part in further 'disempowering' the marginalised.