• Zim Urged to Guarantee Safety of Journos

    The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), a global media watchdog, urges Zimbabwe to guarantee the safety of journalists after a reporter was beaten up and detained by the police.
    Tapiwa Zivira, a journalist with the privately-owned NewsDay newspaper was attacked days after President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace, accused reporters at independent newspapers of writing lies about her.
    The CPJ states that, Zivira was attacked with batons after filming police beating street vendors and others.
    To read the article titled, “Zimbabwe urged to guarantee safety of journalists,” click here.

    News 24
  • Remembering Gerald Kraak: On the Vision and Legacy of an Extraordinary Man

    It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Gerald Kraak – a beloved friend, comrade, mentor and supporter of the South African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) movement.

    It is no exaggeration to say that the sector as we know it would not have been possible without Kraak’s vision, courage and determination. As the head of the South African office of Atlantic Philanthropies, Kraak was responsible for a major shift in the funding landscape, one that reinvigorated and forever altered our movement. Remarkably, Kraak also found the time to write a novel, ‘Ice in the Lungs’, which was the joint winner of the 2005 EU Literary Award and to direct a landmark documentary, ‘Property of the State: Gay Men in the Apartheid Military (2003)’.

    When Kraak became part of the funding sector in the mid-1990s, very few donors were willing to support the then-nascent LGBTI movement. At the time, most regarded sexuality and gender rights as secondary to the ‘big’ issues facing the new South Africa. This attitude was mirrored in the politics of the day: in a country plagued by racial inequality, economic disparity and violence, the ‘gay and lesbian question’ was viewed at best with suspicion and at worst with contempt and revulsion.

    Gerald Kraak thought differently. He believed that South Africa’s transformation would not be possible unless all people - including LGBTI persons - could access their human and socio-economic rights. His broad vision for social justice encompassed all South Africans - from migrants and refugees to farm workers to activists fighting for freedom of information.

    But Kraak did more than offer financial assistance to a fledgling movement: his foresight created space for a crucial transformation to take place. Through Kraak’s support, particularly after he joined Atlantic Philanthropies in the early 2000s, new organisations were able to emerge and existing groups were able to re-evaluate their approach. The impact the funding Gerald provided is apparent in the new generation of black community leaders, specifically those from townships and rural areas, who came to the fore during this period.

    In 2008, Kraak himself reflected on the shape of the LGBTI movement during the early years of our democracy:

    LGBTI organisations were concentrated in urban areas. They were typically strapped for cash, crisis-driven, run by small, committed activist staffs, and sometimes lacked professional capacity to carry out their programmes and relied on one or two donors for support… More problematically, the public face of the community was largely white, male and middle class.

    Kraak understood that this situation would not change without sustained and strategic investment. He recognised the need for organisations to be provided with a level of funding that allowed not only for programmatic activities but also for growth and development. The ensuing support permitted the movement to reappraise its values and goals, and to begin working in a more strategic and coordinated fashion. In his own words, Kraak described his approach as ‘less about an injection of cash into an impoverished sector than a synergy between targeted funding and imperatives within the movement itself’.

    The significance of this approach, of funding according to strategic outcomes, is evident in the 2006 adoption of the Civil Union Act. Kraak played a crucial role in channelling funds towards the same-sex marriage cause, ultimately allowing for the advocacy campaign that made this historic moment possible. Indeed, without the support of Atlantic Philanthropies, it is very unlikely that the Joint Working Group would have been able to undertake litigation or to successfully lobby the African National Congress leadership.

    It is also through Kraak’s expansive vision that transgender and intersex struggles became included in the broader LGBTI agenda in South Africa. With his support, for the first time, transgender activists could formalise themselves and create strong organisations. This validation contributed towards shifting the transgender movement from the margins.

    When Atlantic began its phased withdrawal from South Africa, Kraak acted to ensure sustainability of the movement. More than any other person, he was crucial in the establishment of the Other Foundation. In its first year, the fund has already demonstrated its commitment to advancing the rights of LGBTI people in Southern Africa. None of this would have been possible without Kraak’s tireless work. 

    While the impact of Kraak’s vision is indisputable, he would be the first to argue that we still have a long way to go. Over the last few years, Kraak continued to urge the LGTBI sector to build alliances with other movements and to engage strategically with political parties, trade unions and mainstream faiths. Such an approach, he argued, would highlight the connections between our struggles while also helping to increase visibility of our communities. For many organisations, this strategy has shaped our current and future activities.

    There are very few LGBTI organisations that have not benefited from Kraak’s dream of a better world. It is because of his courage to support an overlooked sector that our movement exists in the form that it does. Kraak’s refusal to take the easy approach, his insistence on allowing organisations to develop on their own terms, has left a lasting legacy on our movement and on South Africa. We still have a long road ahead in the struggle for sexuality and gender rights, but we are closer than ever to realising the freedoms of our Constitution.

    We thank you, Kraak, for all that you have done to make this world a better place.

    A luta continua!

    A memorial service will be held on 1 November 2014 in Johannesburg and on 6 and 7 November 2014 in Cape Town. Full details will be sent out in due course.

    In lieu of flowers, donations to the Wits Hospice can be made to:
    • Account Number: 201658186
    • Branch Code: 004105
    For more information contact:

    Coalition of African Lesbians
    Tel: 011 403 0004

    Durban Lesbian & Gay Community and Health Centre
    Tel: 031 312 7402

    Forum for the Empowerment of Women
    Tel: 011 403 1906

    Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
    Tel: 011 717 4239

    Gender DynamiX
    Tel: 021 633 5287

    Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Tel: 021 461 4027

    OUT Wellbeing
    Tel: 012 430 3272

    Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network
    Tel: 033 342 6165

    Triangle Project
    Tel: 021 686 1475

    Picture courtesy of Atlantic Philanthropies
  • Minister Favours SAHRC Office at Lindela

    Following numerous reports of abuse, Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has asked the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to establish an office at the Lindela Repatriation Centre.
    This month the home affairs portfolio committee convened a meeting at which parliamentarians called for ‘a special meeting’ with the department and the SAHRC to deal with issues regarding Lindela Repatriation Centre.
    Gigaba says he will not like to see an ‘antagonistic’ relationship with the commission, adding that he visited the Centre to gather first-hand information about reported abuses at the centre before a special meeting with the committee.
    To read the article titled, “SAHRC invited to set up shop in Lindela,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • Zambia Tackles Gender Parity in Land Reforms

    Rights organisation, Gender Links, says that, "Cultural practices and customary laws in Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) limit women's ability to access, own and control means of production such as land and livestock."
    The organisation believes that the inability by women to access means of production has had an impact on their economic independence and ability to move out of poverty.
    Statistics indicate that women's access to land for food production is critical to the welfare of the entire region as women are primarily responsible for maintaining households.
    To read the article titled, “Tackling gender parity in land reforms,” click here.

    All Africa
  • SERI-SA to Fight ‘Inhumane’ Evictions

    The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI-SA) is assisting Lesiba Matlaila (71), Sophie Kgomare (71) and Kgomare’s daughter, with their application against their eviction from 236 Wilson Street, Fairlands, were they resided for four decades.

    The organisation states that there are numerous personal circumstances, unique to this case, which the court must take into account.

    It says that All Building and Cleaning Services, a property development company, has flouted its duty in terms of meaningful engagement in its eviction efforts, instead resorting to coercion tactics to remove the three people.

    To read the article titled, “Rights group fights 'inhumane' eviction,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • Call for Responsible Social Media Use

    The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) urged the public to use social networking sites responsibly.
    The call came after the commission resolved a case involving, Ziyaad Kayat, who made anti-semitic statements.
    In a message sent to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) Facebook page, Kayat, stated that, "All Jews are pigs and I think we should kill you SA Jews and kill your kids and let you feel what the Palestinians are feeling."
    The SAJBD laid a complaint with the SAHRC which found that Kayat's comments were in contravention of, among other laws, Section 16 of the South African Constitution.
    To read the article titled, “SAHRC calls for responsible use of social media after man calls for SA Jews to be killed,” click here.

    Times Live
  • SAHRC Says Prisoners’ Rights Are Violated

    The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says the right to a healthy environment of the suspects detained at Maake police station outside Tzaneen in Limpopo has been violated.
    About 51 awaiting trial inmates are reportedly forced to relieve themselves in plastic bags and on their clothes because the police station did not have water.
    SAHRC spokesperson, Victor Mavhidula, points out that, “We have not yet visited the police station. We will visit the police station and see if there is any other contingency plan that the management are implementing to assist the inmates. I think the situation is very serious if people are being locked up and they are not being provided with water and they cannot go to the toilet.”
    To read the article titled, “Awaiting trial inmates violated: Human Rights Commission,” click here.

    SABC News
  • MISA Challenges National Assembly Ban

    The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia, has challenged the alleged decision of the National Assembly to bar its members from covering the opening of the Fourth Session of the 11th National Assembly.

    MISA described the decision as discriminatory and a violation of press freedom.

    MISA board chairperson, Hellen Mwale, asked the Lusaka High Court to declare that the move by the National Assembly and Zambia News and Information Services to bar its members from entering the Parliament precincts to cover the event, on 19 September 2014, is discriminatory and contrary to Article 23 of the Constitution.

    To read the article titled, “MISA challenges Parley ‘ban’,” click here.

    Times of Zambia
  • Nzimande Calls NW University an Apartheid Enclave

    Minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, believes the North West University’s Potchefstroom campus is an apartheid enclave - a hostile and foreign environment for people who are not white Afrikaners.

    Following a video clip showing students performing the Nazi-styled ‘Heil Puk’ salute, Nzimande was scornful of the university’s previous vice-chancellor, Theuns Eloff, who retired just after the video emerged, stating that he had not been prepared to transform Pukke - the traditional name for the Potchefstroom campus of North West University.

    Nzimande is of the view that the merger of the three former universities in 2004 - Potchefstroom, Vaal and Mafikeng - had been designed to keep the Potchefstroom campus Afrikaans and white, where initiation rituals for new students were structured to achieve this, and violate human rights and dehumanise first-year students.

    To read the article titled, “Campus an ‘apartheid enclave’,” click here.

    IOL News
  • Mokonyane Urges Rand Water to Communicate Better

    Water and sanitation minister, Nomvula Mokonyane's office urges Rand Water to work closer and to communicate better with communities regarding water supply interruptions and other challenges.

    Speaking at a meeting with the board, Mokonyane reminds the board that “[as a member]… you have a responsibility towards the communities you serve."

    The board had to close the gap between their commitment to communities and what was eventually delivered, it also had to look at their current way of doing things, and how it could possibly be changed for positive results.

    To read the article titled, “Mokonyane: Rand Water must communicate better,” click here.

    News 24
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