Violence against women, girls and children are one of the most pervasive and barbaric violations of human rights. It is shameful that a society that prides itself on being progressive and undeniably modern in many respects is also one characterised by appalling atrocities meted against their own flesh and blood so to say. This state of affairs warrants serious attention from everyone who truly believes in the ideal of an equal and just society Violence against women, girls and children reverses the gains of democracy and threatens peace and development across the globe. The statistics are glaring and shocking; one in every three girls will be married off before they reach teenage hood, more than 140 million girls are abused through female genital mutilation and women are raped as an act of war in most parts of Africa where conflict abounds. In a world that is riddled with extreme violence of all kinds the time has come to promote a culture of human rights. As a society, we need more than just campaigns to end these horrible atrocities and the impunity that has characterised responses from governments around the world. It is unacceptable that women, girls, and children are not free to live as human beings.
What is the role of civil society? As a body of organisations that work with people at the community level, one primary role is to ensure that government legislation is enforced and that the perpetrators of violence are apprehended and handed down maximum sentences. It is important that governments are held accountable to enforce their laws, policies and interventions in prohibiting all forms of violence. At the same time, civil society should ensure that national legislation meets the requirements of international agreements that aim to put an end to violence against women, girls and children, such as the agreements drafted by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Moreover, civil society has a duty to promote a culture of justice and support for victims of violence. Civil society organisations need to ensure that the government provides timeous, adequate and high-quality multi-sectoral services to survivors. Delayed services delay justice and render survivors of violence vulnerable to hopelessness. In instances where such services are not accessible, government officials entrusted with this task must be held responsible and prosecuted for negligence.
At the same time, civil society organisations should be at the forefront of educating women, girls, and children about their rights. These capacity building initiatives must include boys and men to ensure that cultural norms that perpetuate and engender discrimination are addressed. Awareness raising campaigns and institutional and legal reforms by governments around the world can also promote a culture of equality.
More importantly, it is imperative that civil society organisations ensure that accurate, reliable and meaningful data on violence against women, girls and children is collected. This data must be collected timeously and promptly. There is an urgent need for civil society organisations to enhance their own data collection, analysis, dissemination and utilisation of synthesised data to inform decision making. This approach to the fight against violence against women, girls and children builds a crucial knowledge base that supports multi-sectoral interventions.
Linked to the above point, partnerships with other local, national and international agencies are crucial in building a critical mass of knowledge to interpret trends across global regions. Thus, global strategies would be informed by experiences and actions across the world.
Last but not least, civil society is obligated to ensure that the economic emancipation of women is highly prioritised by governments worldwide, especially in developing countries, where women are still undervalued and remain largely unrecognised. It is imperative that women are supported to enjoy equal access to opportunities and resources, as well as to opportunities for societal leadership and participation. A just and equal society will only be possible if the structural conditions that stifle efforts to advance women are addressed.
In conclusion, the struggle to end violence against women, girls and children is on-going. It will not end until women, girls and children are safe and have a voice in all matters of societal development. A world free of violence is possible. Let us make sure that this ideal is realised in our lifetime.

Paul Kariuki is the Programmes Manager for the Democracy Development Program (DDP), a national Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Durban. He is also a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Civil Society Organisation Coalition (KZNCSOC) Executive Committee.  He writes in his personal capacity.

Water scarcity in South Africa has not come as a surprise. In fact, national government through its communications agency, Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), has chronicled and extensively communicated the dire situation that has beleaguered South Africa for a long while as a water scarce nation. The main problem seems to be a general lack of strategic planning compounded by operational inefficiencies at local government level. An article on water scarcity by water expert, Professor Anthony Turton’s published by the South African Race Relations Institute (SARRI) notes that the lack of critical technical skills due to the transformation agenda has compounded the water challenge in our country. Furthermore, the slow reaction by local municipalities in responding to water leaks in many communities, especially in townships, has contributed to significant water losses.

A recent article in The Mercury about eThekwini Metro Mayor, His worship James Nxumalo’s tour of Cato Manor, confirmed the inefficiency of the Metro’s water department in responding to water leaks in that community. This is a grievous state of affairs for the Metro, which is noted to be losing about 40 percent of its water daily. Surely, somebody needs to be held responsible for this state of affairs. Urgent action is required that will save the Metro millions of rands as well as ensure that water flows from eThekwini residents’ taps. As if this is not enough, last week it was reported that water reservoirs in Bloemfontein in Free State Province were contaminated with sewage waste from different sources such as abattoirs, exposing citizens to disease-causing pathogens.  This scenario is not unique to Bloemfontein; there seems to be general inefficiency in treating waste water properly before it is released into bulk water treatment plants for consumption by the public. According to Professor Turton’s article, close to four billion litres per day are released into rivers as partially treated or untreated sewage. He adds that the general public remains largely unaware that the bulk of drinkable water in the country comes from dysfunctional sewage treatment plants and is treated by bulk water treatment plants that are not designed for this purpose.

Therefore, the big question is: Is South Africa dealing with the issue of induced water scarcity due to operational inefficiencies?

Civil society has largely been silent on this issue, except for small, fragmented pockets of civil protests in different parts of the country, largely confined to Gauteng and North West provinces. This is a worrying response to a national crisis. Thus, another key question is: what can civil society do to get water governance in South Africa on track? In its broadest definition, civil society is a watchdog for the general populace. It should thus lobby for the provision of quality drinkable water and demand accountability from the government where provision is compromised. In a nation already labelled “water scarce”, civil society cannot afford to be silent. It has to make its voice heard and call for a rapid response from the government to address the situation, not with political rhetoric but with pragmatic responses.

At the end of the day, it is citizens that are suffering from operational and systemic inefficiencies. Thus, civil society should consistently monitor water service provision, especially in situations where water leaks are on the increase at community level. This must be treated as a matter of urgency. Ideological wars should be avoided so that serious attention can be given to remedying the situation. Furthermore, civil society should address the issue of private companies that continue to commodify water at the expense of millions of citizens who cannot afford or access quality drinkable water. Even if water is sold at reasonable prices it is still punitive for the majority of citizens who live on less than a dollar a day. There is a need for strong civil society participation in water policy review activities and legislation to enhance the sector’s own awareness of current practices and proposed future policy directions. This advocacy role will be significantly supported by a strong demand for information from relevant government departments and agencies so that civil society is well informed on how it can engage the state better and more meaningfully on an issue such as water provision. Access to information will also enable civil society to monitor the implementation of key legislation that is aimed at improving citizen’s access to water. Finally, civil society organisations should be active in monitoring the imposition of penalties on local municipalities that are defaulting on remedial action.

In conclusion, civil society can no longer remain silent when it comes to water provision. It is time to step up to the plate before the situation deteriorates any further.

- Paul Kariuki is the Programmes Manager for the Democracy Development Program (DDP), a national Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Durban. He is also Member of the KwaZulu-Natal Civil Society Organisations Coalition (KZNCSOC) Executive Committee.  He writes in his personal capacity.

25 November - 10 December

Count me in: together moving a non-violent South Africa forward’


The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is an international awareness-raising campaign. It takes place every year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The period includes Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day.
South Africa adopted the campaign in 1998 as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence. The campaign continues to raise awareness amongst South Africans about the negative impact of violence against women and children (VAW&C) on all members of the community.

At the launch of the 16 Days Campaign on 25 of November 2014, President Jacob Zuma said that activism against gender-based violence should be a year-long campaign and not limited to 16 days. The Department of Women heeded the President’s call and launched the 365 Days for No Violence Against Women and Children’ (#365Days campaign) and ‘#CountMeIn’.

President Jacob Zuma will launch the 2015 campaign on 25 November 2015 in Naauwpoort, Mahikeng.

Objectives of the campaign

The objectives of the 16 Days Campaign are to:

  • Attract all South Africans to be active participants in the fight to eradicate VAW&C; hence the theme:
  • Expand accountability beyond the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster to include all government clusters and provinces.
  • Combine technology, social media, the arts, journalism, religion, culture and customs, business and activism to draw attention to the many ways VAW&C affects the lives of all people in all communities around the world.
  • Ensure mass mobilisation of all communities to promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children.
  • Encourage society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is NOT a government or criminal justice system problem, but a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities.
  • Emphasise the fact that the solution lies with all of us.

What is violence against women and children?

Violence takes many forms, for example:

  • Physical violence in the form of domestic violence, terrible violent crime such as murder, robbery, rape and assault.
  • Emotional violence and trauma at many levels caused by many factors. Women and children in their homes, at work, at schools, on our streets, in our communities suffer this form of violence for various reasons.
  • Another terrible blight of our democracy is the violence of poverty, starvation, humiliation and degradation, especially against women and children. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives.

What can you do?

Together, let us take actions to support the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

  • Support the campaign by wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period: A white ribbon is a symbol of peace and symbolises the commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children.
  • Participate in the various 16 Days of Activism events and activities.
  • Volunteer in support of NGOs and community groups who support abused women and children: Many organisations need assistance from the public. You can volunteer your time and make a contribution to the work of institutions. Help plant a garden at a shelter, sponsor plastic tables and chairs for kids at a clinic or join an organisation as a counsellor. Use your skills and knowledge to help the victims of abuse.
  • Speak out against woman and child abuse.
    • Encourage silent female victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
    • Report child abuse to the police.
    • Encourage children to report bully behaviour to school authorities.
    • Men and boys are encouraged to talk about abuse and actively discourage abusive behaviour.
    • Seek help if you are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive to your partner and/or children. Call the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline (0800 150 150).
    • Talk to friends, relatives and colleagues to take a stand against abuse of women and children.
    • Try and understand how your own attitudes and actions might perpetuate sexism and violence.
    • Spread the message on social media using
    • Join community policing forums (CPFs): The community and the local police stations are active partners in ensuring local safety and security. The goal is to bring about effective crime prevention by launching intelligence-driven crime-prevention projects in partnership with the local community.You may want to also become a  reservist, a member of the community who volunteers his/her services and time to support local policing efforts to fight crime. For  more information on how to join, contact your local police station.

What is government doing?

  • The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill provides government with the legislative authority to fast-track the empowerment of women and address issues of enforcement and compliance towards the attainment of our target of 50/50 gender parity.
  • On 6 June 2011, Government launched the Strategy and Guidelines on Children Working and Living in the Streets [PDF]. This Strategy provides guidance on the services and programmes to be rendered to children living and working in the streets.
  • The Green Paper on Families [PDF] seeks to strengthen and support families as the cornerstone of a well-functioning society.
  • Since 1994, Government has developed several pieces of legislation to redress the wrongs affecting women and children.
  • The  Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act (Act No 7 of 2013) fights trafficking of young girls and women, and also the practice of ukuthwala, a form of abduction that involves kidnapping a girl or a young woman by a man and his friends or peers with the intention of compelling the girl or young woman’s family to agree into marriage.

Where to get help

  • What if you are abused [PDF]
  • Service contacts [PDF]
  • SAPS Crime Stop
    • 08600 10111
  • Gender-Based Violence Command Centre
    • 0800 428428/0800 GBV GBV
  • STOP Gender Violence Helpline
    • 0800 150 150/ *120*7867# from any cell phone
  • Childline- Report child abuse
    • 0800 055 555
  • Elderly people helpline
    • 0800 003 081
  • Family and Marriage Society of South Africa – Advice on family relationships
    • 011 975 7107
  • Thuthuzela Care Centres-
    • 012 8456136
  • Suicide Crisis Line
    • 0800 567 567
  • Alcoholics Anonymous SA
    • 0861 435 722 Substance Abuse Helpline 0800 121 314
  • Narcotics Anonymous SA
    • 0839 00 69 62
  • Mental Health Information Line
    • 0800 567 567
  • AIDS Helpline
    • 0800 012 322 / 011 725 6710
  • National Anti-Corruption Hotline
    • 0800 701 701
  • Disaster Operations Centre
    • 080 911 4357 
  • Crisis Line
    • 0861 574747
  • National Crisis Line- Counselling Service
    • 086 132 2322
  • Human Trafficking
    • 08000 737 283 (08000 rescue) / 082 455 3664
  • SASSA- Grants enquiries
    • 0800 60 10 11 or CPS 0800 60 01 60 
  • SA National Council for Child Welfare
    • 011 339 5741
  • Legal Aid
    • 0800 1110 110
  • Presidential hotline - Unresolved service delivery complaints
    • 17737 (1 PRES)
  • National Anti-corruption Forum
    • 0800 701 701
  • Cancer Association of South Africa
    • 0800 22 66 22

Nonprofit Boards are either seen as a decisive force to ensure accountability of nonprofit organisations or, as problematic institution not contributing to the basic business of the nonprofit. There seems to be a general perception that non-performing boards are the rule, and not the exception. The basis for this perception depends on who you speak to:

  • Staff ask “what is the board doing”
  • Management complains that board are not fulfilling  their duties or are overstepping their boundaries
  • Funders and Compliance bodies complain that board are not exercising their oversight duties
  • Boards complain that they are merely rubber stamps
  • Communities and staff complain that board members merely serve to pad their CV’s

And the list goes on.
The kind of problems that is raised regarding Boards include:

  • Purpose: It seems inconceivable that there can still be uncertainty regarding the purpose of a board of a nonprofit. The volume of literature on this topic is extensive and abundant. There also seems to be a basic approach of training our way out of board problems. The main functions for the board can be summarised as:
    • Set the organisation’s mission and organisational strategy (both on near-term and long-term challenges and opportunities), and modify both as needed. Ensure effective organisational planning
    • Ensuring prudent use and conserving of all assets – fund, property, people, and goodwill. Manage resources effectively
    • Evaluate and help managing risk. Ensure that applicable laws are obeyed and acting in accordance with ethical practices
    • Mentor Director or CEO – select executive staff through an appropriate process, evaluate, ongoing support and guidance to the executive, Monitor performance, and hold accountable for performance (and if required replace)
    • Enhance the organisations public image. Advocating for the organisation and building support in the wider community and related change systems such as government departments, funders etc. Both linking the organisation to the wider community, but also being the bulwark against “attacks”
    • Assess own (board’s) performance
  • Performance: While legislation and regulations ensure that most nonprofits have boards and gives some indication on the purpose, this does not seem to address the perceived lack of performance of boards by the various parties. The reason for this can most often be linked to the fact that many board members, executives and organisations as a whole, do not understand or accept the purpose of the board.
    • If your board must do all the tasks as indicate above, why is the organisation not ensuring that they compose the board of individuals with the skills, resources, diversity, and dedication to address these aspects? Board composition is not an abstract exercise – it is about difficult and grueling process of  finding and adding the right board members
    • The roles and responsibilities, and by implication performance, of the nonprofit boards seems to create confusion. Why then, after recruiting you board according to required skills, not assign responsibilities according to these skills, and evaluate performance according to these skills.  Why not extend organisational processes such as clear and measurable job descriptions, and performance appraisals to the Board.
    • Accept that not all board meetings are going to produce “game-changer” decisions and inputs. A large portion of the “important” work that the board does can be periodic or occasional – this needs to be differentiated from the routine work that has to done on more regular basis. If not, the possibility of inflating routine issues to strategy level is real – or alternatively neglecting the strategic focus of the Board.
    • nonprofits operational staff have quite a few regular (monthly) meetings relating to various issues – staff meetings, management meetings, project meetings, operational meetings, financial meetings etc.  The assumption is that these operational meetings and decisions are contributing to the overall strategic mission and plan of the organisation.  (If not – what is the purpose?). It is the function of the Executive Director or CEO to translate – for both the board and the staff- the operational matters to strategic activities, and ensure the flow of the information between the structures. In short – if you have something to discuss internally in the organisation, you should have a higher level “something” to convey to the board. If the CEO has mastered the skills to communicate to the Board an integrated and functional account that presents and decodes the organisations situation, Boards will be able to discuss the strategic impact (and also limit straying into operational matters and discussions)

The most important rule for all parties to realize is that the board as a whole, as well as individual members, without doing anything, confer legitimacy to the organisation. Furthermore, there may many laws, guidelines, and literature that confers legitimacy to the Board (which transfer the legitimacy to the organisation) – however no amount of laws or guidelines can compel the board to be high-performing.  This is a goal that board, the executive, and the organisation as a whole must strive towards collectively.
A committed board member actively builds relationships for the organisation to succeed, is expressively linked to the organisation, and works on the highest skill level for the organisation - and actively work to improve their own and their organisations performance. A skilled CEO does not see the board as a rubber stamp or “big brother”, but as partner to reach the strategic mission of the organisation.

Both a committed board member, and a skilled CEO do not waste any time discussing the performance of board, if they have not reached shared clarity on the purpose of their board. A knowledgeable board and CEO do not spend time on what is operational and what is strategic, as all are clear on strategic vision of, and risk management  in the organisation - and what strategic and operational decisions have been taken (in advance) to reach strategic vision and avert/limit risks.

The most important relationship in a nonprofit is that of the CEO and the Board (in particular the Chairperson). It this relationship is characterized by lack of trust, lack of meaningful communication and an ineffective division of labour, is does not bode well for the organisation. Organisations need to be clear on

  • Whether the purpose and performance of the board should be thestarting discussion point,
  • Or should be rather discuss the lack of performance and lack of clarity on purpose as the result or consequence of an unconstructive relationship.

Pauline Roux is Managing Partner at the Organisational Puzzle

Virtually in every concern of our society we are experiencing what I term the ‘reincarnation’ of Steve Biko's ideas, not that they ever died, but the conversations around Black Consciousness can go by unnoticed. In my spare time I spend most of my time conversing to ordinary, sometimes fairly educated, ‘semi-elitist’ friends and acquaintances about this that and the other. Some of my friends are well vested academics and others part-time philosophers who speak about all manner of things that get me confused most of the time; however, I neither blame them nor myself for such tangled confusion. Just the other day I could not help but notice how emotive the subject of Black Consciousness is to them, and also to the South African public at large.

Without having to sound politically correct, I believe we ought to first understand what the concept of black consciousness is, its emergence and the movement’s evolution 38 years later after Steve Biko’s death - it founder in South Africa. As one of the key interventions in curbing the obscurity of the history of the struggle for responsible legacy and pedagogic purposes, there has to be a coveted effort to reliably interpret Biko’s credentials in the struggle against apartheid, his philosophical influences in the mass movement and his literatures accurately. 

In an unambiguous disparity to all the rhetoric and rigid intentions with regard to describing the man’s background in furtherance of our own personal desire as does by Andile Mngxitama and his clique who wants to claim Biko’s philosophy as their own and cast those who celebrate his ideas without their approval with a bad spell; Steve Biko made it clear that ‘It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realize that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality’. It is a grave danger to narrowly assume that the Black Consciousness Movement can only be carried out by a handful individual who wants to achieve their own personal gains.

In the context of Biko’s outlook on the Black Consciousness Movement, the shared communal values were paramount and individual welfare were always situated within the setting of civic prosperity. This is evident in that Biko embodied the moral belief of communal sharing and kindness, collectively initiating effective community organisations that worked for the mental and physical health of the poor black people through organisations such as the black community programmes, Black People’s Convention, the Zimele Trust Fund, Impilo Community Health Clinic at Zinyoka outside King William’s Town and when he realised there was a need for black identity separate from any white or multiracial identity from the National Union of South African Students, he spearhead the formation of the South African Students’ Organisation 1968 December, at a conference held in Marianhill, Natal (now known as KwaZulu-Natal) and the organisation played a major role in the Black Consciousness Movement and succeeded in attracting large numbers of Black, Coloured, and Indian youths.  

Many of my fellow black people who are left in the trenches of poverty are certainly finding their voices in the Black Consciousness Movement as lessons and life-sacrifices of Steve Biko, who was murdered on 12 September 1977 as per the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by apartheid operatives is starting to gain traction once again. Majority of my fellow blacks are influenced, shaped and moulded by leaders like Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe, Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela and other African philosophers who unwaveringly opposed the culture of inferiority and exploitation of black people as pathologically unreasonable and advocated that all black people must reclaim the purposefulness of life, so that the world can, in Biko’s words, understand that:  “The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity”. In my view, the Black Consciousness Movement as envisioned by Steve Biko is a vehicle for black people’s conviction to cure our past societal affliction and conquer our collective ambitions.
Chumani Maxwele, a political activist, University of Cape Town student and #RhodesMustFall movement founder, will be joined by Dr Federico Settler, a well-known sociologist and academic from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on 27 October 2015, at Durban’s Maharani Hotel to unpack in-depth this particular topical issue as part of the Democracy Development Program’s series of public forums on race relations in South Africa. Be part of the evolving narrative of the South African context and join the conversations. 

For more information please contact the Democracy Development Program at 031 304 9305 or email

Written by Thula Zondi, Communications Intern at DDP.


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