• ANC: Celebrating 100 Years of Existence

    The African National Congress (ANC) held its 100th birthday celebrations from 6-8 January 2011 in Mangaung, Free State, where it was formed in 1912. The celebrations featured events which were attended by among others, sitting and former heads of state, ANC members and supporters from all over South Arica and the alliance partners.

    Below are the messages of support to mark the ANC’s centenary:

    The event also saw former President, Thabo Mbeki, and ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada, handing over the centenary flaming torch to President Zuma. The torch will be taken around the Free State and to other provinces across the country, when the ANC takes its centenary programme countrywide.

    We invite NGO Pulse readers to share their views about the ANC’s centenary celebrations and what they mean to our 17-year old democracy. Comments and articles should be e-mailed to editor@sangonet.org.za.

  • Youth Dialogue

    Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth

    Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth) was formed in 2009, conforming to the provisions of African Youth Charter, which was adopted by the African Union. The Charter defines African youth as people between the ages of 15 and 35. Membership to OAYouth is open to individuals and youth organisations, that are working to empower youth on any issues.

    The youth voices in South Africa are fragmented and divided by race, religion and especially controversy-magnetic political platforms. As such, young people generally do not have a cohesive neutral platform for dialogue. In certain circumstances South Africa fails to answer: Who speaks for the youth?

    OAYouth, in partnership with students associations at University of Witwatersrand, is hosting a Youth Dialogue on 18 August 2012 in Johannesburg.

    The symposium will be attended by over 60 young people, youth organisations and students leaders.

    The event is aimed at discussing the following question - ‘how do developmental trajectories have to look like in order to achieve social equality in South Africa? What is the role of youth to make it happen?’

    These and other policy issues such as nationalisation, land reform, unemployment and entrepreneurship development, will strengthen a more coherent voice of youth and their willingness to partner with developmental stakeholders to make South Africa a great nation in Africa and the world.

    For more information contact:

    Mordekai Shumba
    President Organisation of African Youth
    Mobile: 073 445 4355
    E-mail: mordekai@oayouth.org

    For more about the Organisation of African Youth, refer to www.oayouth.org.

    Event start date: 
    Event end date: 
    Event venue: 
    FNB Auditorium 101 - West Campus, University of Witwatersrand
    Event type: 
  • Humanism Has No Borders - Commemorating World Refugee Day

    2012 marked the 11th anniversary of World Refugee Day, commemorated every year on 20 June. Thousands of people take time to recognise and compliment the input of people forcibly uprooted from their homes and displaced throughout the world. The annual tribute is noted by an array of events in many countries, incorporating humanitarian workers, civilians, government officials and refugees and asylum seekers. In most corners it is an opportunity to credit the boldness, resilience and dedication of children, women and men who are compelled to escape their native country under threat of torture, brutality and warfare. It is also an opportunity to recognise the contributions that refugees make to the countries that host them. In South Africa, World Refugee Day took a special significance to honour asylum seekers, refugees and non-nationals.

    Yet, there are still reports about xenophobia in the country documented by News24 and the Sowetan. Four years ago, the nation came together with a mass pledge of solidarity against xenophobia to say, ‘never and never and never again’.

    In May 2008, poverty stricken mobs of local black South Africans invaded informal settlements equipped with machetes, clubs and torches and attacked black immigrants from foreign countries. Physical and commercial insecurity propelled these bloodbath campaigns. This resulted in several hundred maimed, 62 non-nationals killed and mass displacement. The aftermath of xenophobia saw South Africans and non-nationals protest non-violently through marching, collecting clothing, food and blankets for the victimised, conducting vigils and speaking out against violence.

    News24 recently reported that 104 people are in court for xenophobic attacks in Limpopo for the charges of public violence, looting shops and malicious damage to property. The suffering of non-South African nationals eking out a living in South Africa has amounted to xenophobic levels requiring collective global justice intervention. It is argued that independent Africa has done more harm to black people than colonialism itself. Organisations corroborate their fear, saying this is not the first hints of possible violence and there is no respect of human dignity, when it comes to non-South Africans.

    Celebrated since 2001, World Refugee Day emphasizes unity. There is need to keep strengthening this unity as the only channel of fuelling sustainable peace and development, and upholding this unity against all forms of genocide or xenophobic violence. It is appropriate that much of this year’s celebrations are taking on the theme: ‘One refugee without hope is too many’.

    There are refugees and asylum seekers all over the world, on every continent and in every country. The system of migration may change, but the movement of people will always remain that of individuals or families moving to a place that offers them better opportunities. People from many countries migrate to South Africa because of the opportunities it affords them, either economic, or social in that South Africa is not at war and has a liberal constitution, but sadly, due to the intense competition for jobs and housing, many Africans continue to be persecuted once arriving in the country. Unfortunately, with such high unemployment, many South Africans perceive the arrival of foreigners as a threat to their already endangered access to resources. It is unfortunate that so many black Africans are treated as a threat whereas immigrants from other countries are often welcomed as sources of skills, talent and expertise. It is important for any person who is able to contribute positively to South Africa to be recognised as such, wherever they come from, and above else for the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers to be upheld. Rather than automatically treating non-South Africans as competition for resources etc, South Africans should also try to consider what circumstances have forced people to leave their home and think about the type of welcome they would want to experience if the same were to happen to them.

    Four years ago, many expressed fury at the lack of action despite signs and warnings, while for others the xenophobic violence came as an absolute surprise. But, nobody can ever again say they did not see it coming. Everybody knows that xenophobia is a problem, and for all the promises made four years ago, how much has changed?

    As we celebrated the World Refugee Day, we also remembered that South Africans fled during apartheid and accepted refugee status elsewhere in the world. It is our duty to accommodate and show compassion to refugees who are fleeing persecution in their home countries. We all must raise our voices loudly say "never, never and never again" against xenophobic violence.

    - Primrose Ncube, primrosencube4@gmail.com


  • Zim Sanctions Must Stay - NGO

    Zimbabwe Europe Network (ZEN), a consortium of more than 20 NGOs in nine countries, says sanctions on Zimbabwe must stay intact until human and property rights violations stop.

    In a press statement, ZEN coordinator, Tor-Hugne Olsen, says even after a year of a coalition government, the political, democratic and economic crisis in the country remains unchanged.

    “We support the continuation of targeted measures, including the travel bans on individuals responsible for human rights violations, until the Global Political Agreement (GPA) obligations are fulfilled,” explains Olsen.

    To read the article titled, “Sanctions must stay — NGOs,” click here.
    News Day
  • Hanekom Commends DHA on Zim Registrations

    People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) says the Department of Home Affairs has ‘exceeded expectations’ in its attempts to register Zimbabweans illegally in South Africa.

    PASSOP spokesperson, Braam Hanekom, who has been among its fiercest critics, points out that, “The officials worked hard, it was a mammoth task and they had limited time.”

    Hanekom says he is hopeful that at least 220 000 Zimbabweans who applied for the dispensation would be accepted.
    Looking to the year ahead, he fears that possible 2011 elections in Zimbabwe could lead to a fresh influx of refugees into the country.

    To read the article titled, “Home Affairs went the extra mile,” click here.
    Independent Online
  • Kenya Criticised Over Corruption

    Anti-Corruption activist, John Githongo, says not enough is being done in the fight against corruption despite commitments made by politicians under the new Kenyan constitution.

    Githongo says that impunity is still prevalent in government and not solid action was being taken against individuals implicated in graft.

    In the same vein, constitutional expert, Yash Pal Ghai, says that any individual implicated in graft should vacate office immediately to allow for investigations to take place.

    "Unfortunately the promises have not been kept so far. People who should be in jail are still in the Cabinet. The government is now trying to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and they do not really have the guts to face the due process," explains Ghai.

    To read the article titled, “Graft fight deflated, NGOs say,” click here.
    Capital FM
  • Pro-Gbagbo Forces Abducting Opponents – HRW

    The Human Rights Watch (HRW) says security forces associated with Laurent Gbagbo are abducting and ‘disappearing’ his rival's supporters.

    Citing statements from numerous witnesses, the organisation says the Ivorian leaders who order and encourage these kinds of grave human rights abuses could be held accountable by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    Africa director at HRW, Rona Peligal, notes that, “Abducting, disappearing, and killing perceived political opponents are horrific human rights crimes, which can and should be punished."

    "No Ivorian families should have to suffer this grave mistreatment," explains Peligal.

    To read the article titled, “Côte d’Ivoire: Pro-Gbagbo forces abducting opponents,” click here.
    Human Rights Watch
  • Adult Basic Education for Social Change

    Why is a large broad-based adult basic education programme not part of government’s ‘New Growth Path’? Are we content to merely provide pensions and grants to millions of adult South Africans who should be learning productive skills, entrepreneurship, basic health – and also about democracy?

    We are marginalising our people and keeping them dependent while we focus on those who have better education. And while we ignore the poorly educated, a seasoned adult-education NGO, Project Literacy, is retrenching skilled staff: as reported last month, this is because grants from the National Skills Fund have been suspended while government completes the formalities surrounding its new skills qualifcations.

    Adult basic education (ABE) can make dreams possible for thousands of adult South Africans who struggle daily for food and security. A strong South African ABE programme can offer education and training to help people make money, improve family health, share in community life, participate more in our democracy, take hold of their own human rights and extend these rights to others. It can help to build social justice and equity. 

    Take the story of a courageous rural literacy learner called Zanele, a member of an Operation Upgrade literacy class. She was the new wife in a polygamous family dominated by the first wife. In literacy lessons Zanele discovered that she had human rights and she questioned her role and status as a makoti (new bride, a newcomer to the family and a source of labour). She worried about HIV as well, after an alarming literacy discussion about how people get infected.

    Zanele decided to free herself from the marriage and from the danger of HIV infection by her town-dwelling husband. To get this freedom, she needed to leave her husband’s homestead and make a living for herself. Her own family would not accept her return, for fear they would have to pay her lobola back to her husband. Zanele needed somewhere to live. She puzzled for weeks about finding a way out.

    During discussion in her Operation Upgrade literacy class about a nearby low-cost rural housing scheme, Zanele said, “I am going to get a house!” She did. She and her little daughter now live in a simple two-room house where she can lock the door at night, grow her own vegetables and keep her own livestock. She does not have to cook and wash clothes for two other women and their families any more.

    She had problems getting the house – completing the application form in English (with the help of her literacy educator), being threatened by the wives and the induna, and being beaten by her husband – but she managed in the end. She makes traditional Zulu wear to sell. “I have freedom!” she says.

    Zanele’s story is common in adult basic education work. An adult literacy programme should cover human rights, HIV and AIDS, and solve social and economic problems relevant to the learners. It should include family health, gender issues, workplace issues and a host of other topics.

    Is this adult basic education? Yes it is, if you link the teaching of reading and writing and counting to a range of topics of concern to the learners.

    Operation Upgrade, a NGO in KwaZulu-Natal of which I am part, has ‘literacy and adult basic education for social change’ as its mission. In an isolated and neglected rural area north of Hluhluwe, the adult basic education programme teaches adult learners to understand and live with HIV and AIDS, write and read in isiZulu and English, calculate with money and run small businesses, grow vegetables and make and sell small crafts, including leather goods. Human rights – and gender issues – come as strong topics in the classes, and the learners make their own theatre sketches about life.

    How is literacy linked to a development topic in an ABE programme? A skilled adult literacy educator will start a lesson with a discussion on a key topic. The educator must have knowledge to share about the topic, or use a resource person, such as a nurse or an agricultural extension worker. After the discussion the educator and the class do literacy work based on the topic. Every literacy lesson should have both development and literacy objectives. It’s the development objectives that create full adult basic education.

    The premise underlying the Operation Upgrade programme is that combining adult literacy or adult basic education with HIV and AIDS education, family health education, livelihood development, food security support and human rights will help to break the cycle of poverty, poor family health and disease, and isolation – a cycle that makes up so much of the condition of disadvantaged adults in South Africa today. It is a model of integrated development education and support, using the literacy class as the vehicle for organising people and making inputs. 

    The content of the classes is negotiated with learners because the literacy experience must meet their needs. Learner needs for information or exposure to issues deepen as they go through literacy classes, developing greater critical consciousness about life in their community.

    We believe that literacy learning per se is not enough for learners: they are seeking ways to change their lives. It is wrong to lead learners to believe that literacy alone will improve their circumstances: a broad-based adult basic education programme is needed that reflects social and economic issues. Such a programme must change with changes in its social context.  Who would have thought to include HIV and AIDS in adult basic education 25 years ago?

    Huge funding is being spent on ABET (adult basic education and training) programmes in South Africa with little thought about the value of this education for adults or - which is worse – whether adults really want pieces of a school-equivalency paper.

    A look at the enrolment and examination numbers for Abet Level 4 across the provinces shows little interest in this learning. Some young people hope for ABET qualifications as alternatives to matric, but the numbers are small. And where are the mature adults studying at this level? Not many of those, either. Adult South Africans have real problems right now. They cannot wait for future generations to provide solutions.

    Nobody is decrying the efforts made by the various state ABET units to deliver a good education product – but the vision of adult basic education in national policy is very different from the ‘replacement schooling’ curriculum they offer. The ABET budgets are low and the programme gets little political support.

    The big question – How can adult basic education help people in South Africa to narrow the poverty gap? – has not yet been asked at a national level. Today’s adults are asking what is being done to improve their lives here and now.

    And the ‘T’ for training in ABET? No budget for low-level skills training in the ABET classes – the further education and training colleges are touted as the T component but they are largely inaccessible and their courses do not get people jobs ….. the truth is, the jobs are not there. 

    We are firmly convinced that employment for all will be the answer to poverty. More than half of South Africa’s working-age population are either unemployed or not economically active. What about training for adults for self-employment and self-reliance? Are we serious about being a developmental state?

    And then we spend billions on a nice-to-have mass adult literacy campaign, Masifundisane or Kha ri Gude, where adult learners in class for six months (part-time) learn to write in home their languages, speak and read a little English and do a little addition. It’s a quick dip in reading and writing. So what? “If you don’t use it you lose it”: there will be serious relapse from any minimum level of literacy reached in the mass campaign. When are we going to deliver useful education and training for adults?

    We have seen enough of ‘dumped’ classes after six months in Kha Ri Gude, classes of learners who cry, “What’s next for us? We want to learn projects!” Development NGOs, underfunded, are trying to cope with this problem.

    It’s time we stopped expecting traditional education to be the saviour of our disadvantaged adults. Plain literacy and school equivalency education will not put bread on the table tomorrow, nor will they teach a mother how to purify water from a river before her children drink.

    Let’s be honest. You and I communicate through literacy, so that’s what we think all people should have, but illiterate adults have more pressing needs. And the programmes offered to them depend on voluntary attendance, so we need to meet their needs, not design learning for them to meet alien or unrelated needs.

    The old role of the teacher-bestowing-knowledge merely serves to reinforce the status quo. There’s a vast, undereducated adult population which is not part of the economy and which has no involvement in developing our society. Is this what South Africa wants?

    We have the opportunity now to give adult learners an education that helps them develop a critical perspective on how they live and shows them ways to change their lives. Functional and problem-solving adult basic education and literacy is the best available means of developing our nation.

    - Pat Dean is the director of Operation Upgrade of South Africa, an NGO providing adult basic education with literacy. This article was first published in the Mail & Guardian and is republished here with the permission of the author.
    Pat Dean
  • NGO Criticises Kenyan Police Over Refugees

    Amnesty International (AI) has released a hard-hitting report with stinging findings on the harassment of Somali refugees by Kenya's police and soldiers.

    The report also questions the sincerity of Cabinet Ministers; Otieno Kajwang' (immigration) and George Saitoti (internal security), over their commitment in handling Somali refugees within Kenya's borders.

    The report titled "From life without peace, to peace without life" makes a gory reading as it gives a detailed account of the suffering of the refugees fleeing the war-torn country and entering Kenya.

    To read the article titled, “Police harass Somali refugees - international NGO,” click here.
    All Africa
  • NGOs Criticise Migrants Registration Deadline

    The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum has warned that the 31 December deadline of documenting Zimbabweans in South Africa is ‘unrealistic’.

    The organisation’s lawyer and director, Gabriel Shumba, points out that the major problem with that deadline is that there are thousands of Zimbabweans who do not have passports.

    In the same vein, Tara Polzer from the University of the Witwatersrand’s Forced Migration Studies Programme, argues that, “That is one of the biggest hurdles for this whole process. It’s actually quite concerning if the institutions involved are going into it without recognising that as a real hurdle.”

    To read the article titled, “Passport panic for Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa,” click here.
    VOA News
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