The importance of understanding available basic municipal services

Understanding basic services or the lack thereof could be identified as contributing factors behind the escalating widespread of service delivery protests across the country  . These protests are fuelled by anxieties linked to lack of access to basic, mandated municipal services. This is primarily experienced within rural and disadvantaged urban areas.

Housing, access to basic energy and sanitation seem to be the epicentre  of this unrest.

This week’s episode focuses on access to basic services .Young activator, Anzani Tshifheya investigates what the basic services are and how communities can access them.

“What I found in my community is that people are not fully aware of what basic services are and the rights that they have as a community on ensuring that they have access to these services,” says youth Activator, Anzani Tshifheya. “A lot of our people do not understand that access to basic services transcends beyond them having their rubbish bins collected every week”.

 In support of an initiative to empower the millennial generation driven by SABC education and the IEC, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has availed its youth leaders from various provinces to drive authentic narratives on the current state of municipal services through eyes and experiences of the youth.

 “This generation of going leaders is looking for solutions based on the realities they are experiencing today. Finding new ways of addressing old challenges,” says Nelisa Ngqulana, Communications Manager at ACTIVATE! 

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a national network of 2000 young South Africa, connected through their visions of building a better South Africa.  “Being part of a significant programme such as Walala Wasala gives  Activators an opportunity to drive a positive conversation between youth and available local government resources and structures”.

says Nelisa Ngqulana, Communication Manager at ACTIVATE!

 the looming local government elections and concern of low youth voter registration, the programme is aimed at encouraging youth to take a more active stand in the governance of their communities.

Episodes of Walala Wasala will be airing every Thursday on SABC 1 at 21:00

IMBIZO: Discussing HIV/AIDS Prevalence In KZN

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), with HIV prevalence at 27.9% amongst people from age 15 to 49 years, continues to have the highest rate of people infected with HIV in South Africa. Youth network, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is taking a step towards resolving this issue by empowering the youth of KZN with education and skills on HIV prevention, management, control and access to healthcare. Members of the network will facilitate a community gathering, the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo, at the Coastal KZN College’s AS-Salaam Campus in Ugu District on Tuesday, 05 April from 12h00 till 15h30.

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a network of more than 1600 young change makers or “Activators” across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole.

The ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo in KZN aims at exploring the subject of HIV/AIDS in the province, specifically the Ugu district. Ugu is one of the mostly affected by HIV/AIDS districts in KZN.

The event will serve as a platform for the community to have intergenerational conversations on topics such as HIV/AIDS education at schools, prevention of the virus, health rights as well as the government’s intervention.

Communications Manager and Spokesperson at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Nelisa Ngqulana, says: “With the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo we hope to eradicate the myths on HIV/AIDS, prevention methods and treatment by addressing issues such as stereotypes and the stigma. Part of our mission is to work hand in hand with the government to tackle youth related issues. So the event will also update the community on the latest developments in government’s efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

The timing of the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo is perfect as South Africa is preparing to host, for the first time, the 21st Annual International AIDS Conference in Durban from 18 to 22 July this year. This is event is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, policy makers, people living with HIV as well as other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. The 2016 programme will present new scientific knowledge and offer many opportunities for structured dialogue on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. Ngqulana says it is important for South Africans to be kept updated on HIV/AIDS related matters through platforms such as the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo. This, in turn, enables them to contribute in global dialogues like the International AIDS Conference.

The content of the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo will be delivered in form of both theoretical and practical outputs. Government representatives and relevant private organisations have been invited to take part in the dialogue. The session will be as interactive as possible to encourage maximum participation by all involved parties.

For more information and details on how you can participate or attend, please contact Nkosikhona Mpungose on +27 73 735 0861.

Under the umbrella theme, ‘Democracy in Action’, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers will be facilitating similar Imbizos in three other provinces. On 08 April the Imbizo will be in Eastern Cape where ‘Abortion’ will be discussed as a topic. In Free State the Imbizo will be on 22 April and will look at ‘How civic engagement and social participation among South African youth can be enhanced’. The last Imbizo will be held in North West on 06 May and the topic will be ‘Land – What’s the plan for youth.’ The plan is to highlight how these topical issues affect South Africa’s hard earned democracy and come up with resolutions. 

5 Minutes with Anzani

1. Introduction

Anzani Tshifheya, 24, currently studying Human Resource Management at iCollege in Thohoyandou, Limpopo.

2. What drove you to be an activator?

I saw that most people in the ACTIVATE! Network are young, so that first attracted me to join. I also received a pamphlet on the organisation that highlighted what they do.  I remember it spoke about the Integrated Development Plan, local government, scholarships and how to be an innovator. It also asked questions about what it means to be a young person in South Africa. This motivated me to know more.

At the time I had been busy with a project I started in my community in 2012, so I was also motivated to find out how it can assist me in that way.

3. How long have you been doing it for?

I joined ACTIVATE! in 2015

5. Tell us about your involvement and the experiences/ results you have had?

I have a project in my village called Riakona Sports Arts and Culture Events that is run by me and my sister. We have various projects with the youth in our village and three of the surrounding areas. We focus on after-school and holiday sessions and offer various initiatives from netball lessons to English tutoring. Our projects are always evolving and depend a lot on the needs of our participants, but our main focus is always to uplift all our participants. In my village there are many senior and junior participants, and it can be challenging managing them, but it has been very rewarding working with all of them, there are roughly 40 participants in each of the villages.

Even though we began only working with high school learners, we realised that many of the juniors from our village needed help with their English homework and we began assisting them too. We found that many of the elders in the community are not used to speaking English so they cannot assist the children with their homework. So that is where our motivation comes from. We want the youth to have more than just a good education, we want them to learn how to be confident about who they are so that they can become leaders in their communities.

Our most recent achievement was meeting the King in Venda. We spoke about our project and he was very interested in the project, we spent almost three hours talking about the work we do and also spoke about hosting a cultural, poetry and sports event on June 16, Youth Day.

 4. How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?

At the time of joining ACTIVATE! I would only help youth in November when it was close to exams, joining the organisation made me realise that I needed to do more and help more young people in my village. Since then the project has grown to our surrounding villages and more people are involved both as facilitators and beneficiaries.

I have learned a lot, all the modules inspire me to do more, but the last module where the facilitator speaks about how ACTIVATE! has done their part and that it is now up to us to take it further, I felt inspired during that time, like I have something to more to share and more people to uplift.

There was also a module where we were told about people who fought for South Africa and that even when they felt demotivated they carried on. I often think about them when I feel overwhelmed.

The Washline Methodology has really assisted me whenever I want to facilitate or run an event, it helps me identify what I need to achieve especially with event planning.

Also, the power questions that we were encouraged to ask ourselves allowed me to think further. It left me with many questions for myself, not only in the now but ongoing. It forced me to look at individual, community and country problems, such as What is the future holding for the upcoming generation? Who are the future leaders if there is no education? And ask myself how I can assist to bring change.

6. What are your thoughts on Active Citizenship?

It calls for all us, as a country to interact, to take part in local government. There can’t be a local government alone, there needs to be more done by the young people and for young people. Active Citizenship is not all about complaining but also about community action.

7. Do you think that the voices of the youth are being heard?

No. If I look at our parliament, most of them are above 35 and I feel they do not speak for youth.

For many youth, especially in rural communities, this is not easy. General access to information is limited in rural communities, for example, the closest shop to our village that sells a newspaper is 15km away, to get there you need at least a R30 and for many that is a lot of money. There are many homes with no television, no radio, no internet connection, so there is very limited access to information. Unless you have access to a school or to a point where there is Wifi then you won’t always know what is happening.

8. Do you think that youth is doing enough?

Looking at the youth in my village, I would say no.  I am the only one in my community bringing youth together so that we can assist each other. Young people need to shift their mind-set so that we can be recognised. There are so many problems facing rural communities and youth can play a great part in changing realities. Rural communities believe in education, but I believe that there are other areas such leadership that can really make a difference.

9. How accountable do you think municipalities should be for lack of service delivery?

They have to be responsible.  On the hand of the government they should employ more people to do surveys so that they can identify problems.

10. Tell us about your contribution to the upcoming episode of Walala Wasala?

I highlighted various issues that affect my community. One of the main challenges we have is a lack of access to water. We have one tap that accommodates 100 people. The tap doesn’t work constantly and sometimes is off for 2 -3 weeks. Last year there was no water and villagers were forced to buy water from people who have boreholes for R2. Unemployment is very high in my village, so for many it is very hard to get that R2 to buy the water so people needed to sacrifice buying certain things to buy water.

We also spoke about the stream that we use if there is no water from the tap. People then use water in the stream to wash themselves and their clothes. But during times when there is no water, the water decreases a lot and becomes contaminated so we can’t use it.

I also highlighted the badly built and unfinished RDP houses.

Access to education was also highlighted, we spoke about there only being one primary school in my village and there is no library. The closest library is 16kms away and that many people in my community, have never been to a library.   

11. What was the experience?

It was a good experience; it’s hard to appear on television especially when you need to talk about serious issues but the hope is that by highlighting the issues on TV that more people will become aware of the issues facing rural villages like mine.

12. What topic did you cover?

Access to basic services

13. What were the results?

There has been some change, since the guys came and did the photoshoot, there is regular water flowing from the tap. I think the issue was highlighted to the King after one of his civic members came to our village to find out why they will be filming.

14. If there is anything you could have changed in the experience what would it be and why?

No, I wouldn’t change anything.

15. Why would you encourage youth to be future Activators?

To be an Activator, is a great platform to fight for our country in a formal way, it’s an opportunity for young people to share their concerns and ideas with each other and also been given awareness in how we can communicate with government.

16. How are YOU going to continue contributing towards the activation of change in your community?

I need to get a funder for my project so that a library or sports centre can be built in my village that participants can use. I believe with more libraries and sports centres, young people will exercise their minds; it will help with many things such as prevent teenage sex and curb drug use, as people will get information about getting jobs. Once they get employed they can bring their skills back to the community and the economy will grow.

5 Minutes With Motsatsi

What drove you to be an activator?

Immediately when I saw the words INNOVATIVE and CHANGE DRIVER, it made me realise that I must not miss this training. My love for people is my motivation, because I want skills that will help me develop my community and network.

How long have you been doing it for?

I’ve been an Activator since 2013.

Tell us about your involvement and the experiences/ results you have had?

After I attended a session where we spoke about our past, it made me feel like a new person who is ready to face the world. I learned to work in a team and to recognise that people have different skills, and when we work together it makes things easier.

An example of when I used what I have been exposed to at ACTIVATE! was the time when there were violent protests in my community that were preventing children from going to school. I managed to be innovative and used the training I received, to motivate my community to engage with different stakeholders and conduct brainstorming sessions as a way to find resolutions.

The protests lasted close to a month and because of their violent nature community members were too scared to defend themselves for fear of victimisation. Then I used methodologies like the Washline to get community members together.

We convened community meetings and met with various stakeholders including parents, taxi associations, the Department of Education, South African Police Service, traditional leaders (indunas) and the South African Youth Council. It was a very tense time, but I knew the only way forward was through communication.  I also knew I needed to let the public know what was happening so I used my network that I made at Activate! and began talking to Karabo Maila, the executive Content Producer for Capricorn FM’s Breakfast Show. The collaboration proved very beneficial to the community as I was allocated time to talk about the problem on air and it brought much needed attention to the issue and accelerated the course to resolution.

What are your thoughts on Active Citizenship?

It’s a gift from God, because there are different plans among us as people. It’s vital to the future growth of our country, we all have hearts that feel, we need to listen to other people’s ideas and make sure you know and understand the cause of problems before they can be tackled. To be an Active Citizen one needs to be a person of the people.

Do you think that the voices of the youth are being heard?

Not always. I feel that youth who have money are listened to.  When youth speaks the truth they make sure the doors of work opportunities close on him/her especially when speaking up against government.  But I believe that truth is my only security. I think many departments and municipalities are influenced by politics. Once other youth stop being puppets of the government and have the same vision as all youth I believe that we will all be heard.

Do you think that youth is doing enough?

Not at all, I believe that the youth are too easily influenced. We still have a long way to go.

How accountable do you think municipalities should be for lack of service delivery?

Municipalities must be accountable for service delivery. They must make sure they deliver, instead of just giving empty promises. As citizens we must make sure we don’t destroy government properties when we are angry and protesting because it hinders progress.

Tell us about your contribution to the upcoming episode of Walala Wasala?

Oh yes, I felt blessed and favoured by God.  It made me realise that somewhere, someone saw my hard work and passion in everything I do.

I spoke about how I got different stakeholders to get together to brainstorm during the time of the protest. I expressed the importance of finding your contacts within networks and use it to uplift communities.

I also expressed disappointment in municipalities and when they meet with the public it seems like we only see them when the elections are close. We have found that they do not work well with people. As chairperson of the South African Youth Council in Maruleng municipality, I found that the mayor started to sabotage our programs because he realised that I’m not with him in politics and that all I want is the truth and to uplift my community.

What was the experience?

To be on television is not simple because during shooting I needed patience. There was a time that I was tired but I just told myself that I must be patient until things were done as accurately as possible. I learned to listen to instruction from someone else, and it made it even clearer to me that listening is a very strong weapon that people can use. My experience is to listen to understand not to respond.

What topic did you cover?

How to communicate with local government.

Topics I touched during the interview include:

 

  • Causes of protests
  • Municipalities not communicating well with communities
  • Encouraging people to vote
  • Importance of voting
  • What I’m passionate about

 

What were the results?

I believe changing people’s mindsets, because if we all learn to use our minds to think instead of just following other people’s instruction we can work together and achieve more.

Why would you encourage youth to be future Activators?

I will encourage youth in South Africa to be activators because the training will assist them in standing up for themselves.

After being activators they will be activated and able to face all challenges of the world and they will be better prepared to handle any disappointments and negative things in their life. One of the best motivations is that they will be able to network with each other as young Africans.

How are YOU going to continue contributing towards the activation of change in your community?

I will contribute to my community by attending community meetings; engage in sports activities, visit career exhibitions at schools and motivate them – while getting motivated by the youth. I will continue giving Life Orientation lessons at Drop Centres in my community and will always be open and polite to people so that they will feel free to speak with me especially the youth. “DREAM BIG, BUT TAKE BABY STEPS”

Motsatsi Mmola is 28 year old, currently unemployed Activator who has previously worked at the Expanded Public Works Program.

Every right to be angry

A very close friend of Zandile Motsoeneng, Activator 2015, was shot and killed. This happened shortly after arguing with a group of men about her sexuality, on the street next to her house. At the time Zandile’s friend was working and looking after her parents. Until this day, no arrests have been made. Zandile is convinced that the men who killed her friend are the ones she argued with few minutes before she was gunned down at her gate. “These men decided to end my friend’s life because she was a lesbian,” Zandile said with a shaking voice.

The loss still haunts Zandile. The thought of how women are seen and treated, the expectations and standards that the world has created for women; all these things upset Zandile. In the past few weeks during the ACTIVATE! SWITCH training, the facilitator talked about looking professional when meeting with funders. The facilitator, then, made an example that women should cover all part of their breasts. Zandile raised her hand quickly saying she is against the idea that women have to conform to certain standards put before them by other people.

The facilitator tried to explain that, in this case, it’s not only about women, men too, are expected to wear in a particular way. Zandile wasn’t convinced but had to accept that maybe her point isn’t relevant in this particular conversation, “Ok, maybe I overreacted, it’s just that I’ve grown up in a very patriarchal society,” she said with her deep hoarse voice.

Like many other women in her community, Zandile experiences patriarchy daily, but it’s not just patriarchy for her. “Imagine being a black woman in the township and on top of that being a lesbian or bisexual, you can only imagine. It’s hard,” she said. However, Zandile’s pain led her into helping other women and men who are in danger- like her friend- who was killed and discriminated against because of her sexual orientation. She joined the Forum for the Empowerment of Women and later started her own organisation.

Dikgoro Dibutswe was started in 2014, with the aim to defend, support and rehabilitate gays and lesbians in Naledi and Soweto surroundings. Also, to advocate for their rights. The team is made up of eight members. Some of them are feminists and some are LGBTI activists.

“I chose to focus on gays and lesbians because they are the out of the closet people in my township and they are outspoken about their sexuality. But we’re open to cater for the whole LGBTQIA+ community if the need arises in my community,” she clarified.   

Keitumetse Finger, 28, a member of Dikgoro Dibutswe, says people are not educated about sexualities. “When you’re part of the LGBTI community you face a lot of challenges out there. You’re always at risk of being physically and emotionally abused, or even killed. The people around you consistently look at you like you’re crazy,” she said.

“Some of my friends became enemies the day I told them the truth about my sexuality. My extended family doesn’t want me. People start asking questions like: So, you won’t have babies? Hayi maybe you haven’t been done well by a guy. Are you sure about this thing? And they don’t understand what these questions do to you”,  Keitumetse explained.

But, since she joined Dikgoro Dibutswe, Keitumetsi doesn’t feel like she owns anyone the answer. She is grateful of the family she has found in this organisation, “I have come to realise that you don’t have to educate people who are not willing to learn. For you to learn about other people’s sexual orientations you need to open your mind.”

Some of Dikgoro Dibutswe members are disowned by their families- they are homeless and jobless. Zandile is lucky to be supported by her family. She informally started housing friends with problems at her house so her parents got used to their house being a stop center for abused gays and lesbians.

The need and determination to do more makes Zandile feel like she isn’t doing enough. “Presently I can’t claim any success stories as I feel I haven’t done enough like when someone comes and I find them a place but they can’t stay there forever. It  hurts when I can’t give them food parcels at that time because I don’t have anything to give,” she said.

“I would love it if ACTIVATE! could plead with people within the network for donations or physical space we could utilise, social workers to come to the table and we can see what we can do. We also accept donations in the form of second hand computers that can be used for CV and training others how to type and do administrative work”,  she added

Dikgoro Dibutswe is currently running on zero budget, but how can Zandile give up? With her colleagues , they donate R100 and non-perishable foods every month and give to who ever is really in need at that time.

Upwards and downwards for Zandile and members of her organisation. Their stories are what millions of other people within the LGBTQIA+ community have to go through every day. The South African Constitution states that no person shall be discriminated against based on his or her social status and identity, including sexual orientation. However this doesn’t protect them from the abuse and crime they face every day.

YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD LEAD THE ANTI-RACISM MOVEMENT

Due to unjust Apartheid laws, South Africa’s past is characterised by systematic defiance and protest against racial segregation. One would think that after numerous tragic incidents like the Sharpeville Massacre and 22 years after attaining our democracy, the country’s famous rainbow nation is harmoniously cohabiting. However, based on the recent racism related events, it seems like South Africa has not yet reached its goal of a non-racial society.

2016 began with a social media uproar following a post by KwaZulu Natal realtor, Penny Sparrow who compared black people to monkeys, calling them “uneducated” and “inviting huge dirt and troubles and discomfort to others.” An Investment Strategist from Standard Bank, Chris Hart also became the centre of a storm after his tweet was deemed racist, which resulted to him losing his job. Hart came under fire after he tweeted: “More than 25 year after apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.” Many people from different areas of the country felt offended by his claim and called for his removal from Standard Bank. Soon after that a number of other racist posts started popping up all over social media, leading to unrest and an exchange of hateful remarks.

On a more recent incident, a group of students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) set fire to paintings they took from the university’s residences. The majority of the artworks destroyed and specifically targeted were of white people connected to the university. The paintings were dubbed “symbols of the colonisers” and “problematic white people’s pictures” by the protesters. This happened shortly after the students erected a shack on UCT’s grounds in protest against the university’s lack of accommodation residence for students from poorer backgrounds.

Just like the struggle heroes, some youth organisations and individuals are taking an initiative to free the country from the evil that threatens to destroy its unity by implementing strategies that aim to eradicate racism. Amidst the growing number of racist attacks and in response to the sluggishness in post-apartheid nation-building processes around issues of race, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have joined forces to launch the Anti-Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA). The network consists of more than 80 organisations from around the country, forming an alliance against the apparent resurgence of racist incidents and hardening racist attitudes.

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Youth Club, ASRI Future Leaders Fellowship Programme, Equal Education Foundation and many others are some of the youth development organisations that form part of ARNSA.  The network launched the Anti-Racism Week, which ran from 14 to 21 March to coincide with the commemoration of the Sharpeville Massacre and the celebration of Human Rights Day. 

The Anti-Racism Week aimed at strengthening public dialogue around issues of race with multiple activities scheduled across the country. The activities were not only meant to educate the public on issues of racism, they also served as a platform for South Africans to openly interact and speak about their experiences of racial prejudice.

People were encouraged to identify, promote and build on good practices and initiatives to prevent, reduce and eradicate racism.  Another aim was to empower communities and individuals to take actions to challenge racism and to seek compensation when it occurs. The campaign also extended its reach to social media by encouraging users to join the conversation under the hashtag ‘Take on Racism’ and pledge their support.

Racism is like a disease that disturbs our peace and restrains our prosperity as a country. During his State of the Nation Address, President Zuma said racism is an enemy of humanity. As with many problems started by people, it can be solved by people. Young people are in a better position to lead the anti-racism movement as the modern society exposes them to other racial groups and allows them more opportunities to learn about different cultures.

Despite that, young people should be empowered with skills and knowledge on how to accept and respect people’s differences. Earlier this year, the ANC’s KwaZulu Natal chairperson, Sihle Zikalala said South African children should be taught at a young age to despise racism. To achieve this, he suggested that the department of education should ensure that life orientation currently taught in our schools has extensive content that deals with social cohesion and racism. 

5 Minutes With Siphelele

What’s your passion?

Youth development and helping young people live into their full potential. I think every young person has so much within themselves and I want to assist them in finding themselves again.

What change are you keen to drive?

The change I am driving is focused on personal development; I believe that once a person is developed internally that everything else will follow. Youth often struggle to find their true potential because of external challenges that they are facing, such as poverty and unemployment. The youth are so weighed down by everything that happens around them, that who they are becomes secondary.

How are you driving change?

I am part CEO of a non-profit organisation, Educo Africa, my responsibilities include fundraising and facilitating interventions. We believe that the wilderness is the greatest teacher in assisting people to find themselves and take participants on trips to connect with themselves. We include solo nights in the programme that sees participants spend a night in the wilderness on their own.

Having gone through the programme myself 11 years ago, I benefitted immensely from the experience and have motivated youth to take part ever since.  

The organisation also has the Making Local Government Work programme. Currently in its pilot stage, the intervention’s main aim is to encourage youth to get to know more about their local government. Understanding the importance of building relationships with local councillors and knowing who they need to contact to deal with various challenges in their community. We also want to break misconceptions that you need to be affiliated with a certain political party to be involved with local government.

The programme’s workshops are held in partnership with the IEC and Activate! and are held in Kraaifontein, Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Hanover Park, these areas were chosen  because they were political hot spots in the last two years.

The vision is that young people influence and inform young people through the ideal of peer education.

You were interviewed under the topic, What is local government on SABC 1’s education programme Walala Wasala. Why do you think you were chosen for this specific show? And what was highlighted on the programme?

The show reinstated the importance of education in South Africa and highlighted that youth require navigation in knowing their local government.  

We discussed the work we do at Educo Africa through our Making Local Government Work programme. Highlighting the vision of the programme, we also raised how we are interacting with youth groups and the topics that are being discussed. For example, what is The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP),  how does it affect youth and how do young people get their voices heard in local government.

How would you describe the experience and the importance?

What I enjoyed most is the exposure the show gave the programme and how it empowers youth.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?

Through Activate! I feel supported, being introduced to a network of young like-minded individuals and having opportunities to work with them has been amazing.

I have also used many of the methodologies and trainings I have learned, such as Developing Others While Developing Self and Practicing Democracy. These are methodologies that I have also adapted in the Making Local Government Work programme.

Another example is the U Theory, it entails how one deals with a challenge. There have been times that I have been faced with a challenge and I have used the theory of going outside the problem. Then looking at how others are dealing with their challenges and developed a prototype on what I see or experience.

How do you motivate yourself?

My biggest motivation is not allowing frustration to turn into negativity.


Final comment?

My vision for South Africa’s youth is that we as young people, stop putting boundaries around ourselves. We allow South Africa to box us. We need to challenge the norms and create our future now. That’s what I always do. Live my legacy now.

Youth vs Local government; is enough being done?

Youth Network, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers features on SABC Education and the IEC’s youth democracy education programme to emphasise the importance of engagement between youth and local government .

With local government elections around the corner, recent evidence of low voter registration and ongoing discontent between communities and municipalities  are indications of a desperate need for interventions. With the “born-free” generation being at the ages where they are eligible to vote, the country has seen the growth of a new breed of active citizens who are focus on realistic results and leadership accountability.

Through popular youth television magazine programme, Walala Wasala, viewers will be taken on a national journey that sees young Activators share their thoughts on the performance of their local government and how they are actively making a difference in their communities.

“Youth participation in local government is a necessity that has been overshadowed by unnecessary issues at times,” says Nelisa Ngqulana, Communications Manager at ACTIVATE! “We believe that having programmes such as Walala Wasala will encourage youth to be more active and take more responsibility on the way in which their communities are governed.”

From empowering youth on the function of local government to addressing issues on access of basic services, public health and illegal dumping, the 13-episode series will be showcasing the value behind youth participation within the local government structures.

There are these incredible young people out there who are going to engage politically and actively contribute towards changing the system from within. With the mentoring and range of skills provided by the ACTIVATE! network, these young people have the capacity to be our next members of parliament, and they will know how to listen and hear what people are saying, and have a wealth of ideas on how to find solutions.

The first episode of Walala Wasala will be airing on Thursday,10 March on SABC 1 at 21:00

For more information on the programme check out the following:

Websites: www.activateleadership.co.za

Social Media

Twitter: @ActivateZA

Facebook: Activate! Change Drivers


Men as partners in African Feminism

I am privileged to have been taught by brilliant scholars in the areas of gender and womxn’s studies. As a man living in South Africa, it is not easy to access or engage in knowledge in these domains and there are various explanations for why this is so. Through incessant cognizance of my positionality I have now come to teach on African Feminism and utilize this theoretical framework in advancing knowledge in my areas of research. But of more relevance, we are of the position that the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of African feminism and intersectionality should be used as thinking tools for advancing consciousness of the collective (African) male psyche.

African feminism emerged in the late 1900s where black feminists were marginalised within the feminist movement by their white feminists counterparts. It emerged from the understanding that in the same way that a group of womxn formed a movement to address oppressive systems repress womxn, they were not a homogenous group where everyone had the same degree of oppression. Systems of power and oppression come together at a particular point to shape the subjective realities of diverse people differently and some are more oppressed than others. This is known as intersectionality – where one’s privilege and oppression meets or intersects to influence an individual’s social standing and access to economic and political mobility.  For example; a poor black trans-lesbian womxn are more oppressed compared to a cis middle class gay black man. However, we are aware that I cannot speak for poor Trans black lesbian womxn and for all middle-class gay black men.

I have found that it is quite easy for us to identify and understand how people and systems are oppressive against us and what we represent as men, but to a large extent we are constantly fighting to maintain our male privilege. As a gay man of colour, it has always been easy to pinpoint and challenge discriminatory practices on the basis of my race and sexuality that are targeted towards me. For example, I understand that institutional racism exist in context of the institutions I am part of. In such spaces it would be difficult to find a sense of belonging because the system is violent towards you because there is the underlying reality that these spaces were historically not designed for what I represent.  But it was a point realisation when, in the same way that white feminist had to engage with white privilege, I had to become aware of my male privilege. This is despite the fact that I do not represent the hegemonic heteronormative ideal. Irrespective of the masculinity that I represent being marginalised in certain contexts and spaces, I have to understand that by virtue of me being a man, I hold a particular position of privilege over all womxn. This privilege has afforded me more resources, confidence and capacity to claim more space and allowed my voice to be more dominant over womxn’s voices. It is in the most implicit but also explicit ways that I have exercised this privileged over womxn in various contexts.  

But it is in the process of conscientisation that you engage with this privilege. To better understand and engage with transformation and decolonization efforts and to challenge all macro and micro systems of oppression, we need to not only engage without privilege but also be prepared to hand it over. Probably the most difficult thing to do.

Partnerships with feminists and becoming allies in feminist movements have made me understand how my maleness is violent and oppressive towards womxn everywhere and so it was important for me to learn to take several seats and take in the narratives of those whose experiences of oppression is a consequence of a system that is affording me the privilege to do so and not be aware of it. It is only then that I was able understand how my behaviour and attitude towards womxn should be changed at a fundamentally internal psychological level.

It is through this process that men will begin to understand and engage with the social issues that affect womxn and how they reinforce and perpetuate womxn’s struggles.  Men should therefore not only be allies to the feminist movement but should be active partners and activists for inspiring African feminism. It should not be uncomfortable or difficult for men to be led and directed by womxn. Black womxn particularly have been at the forefront of many liberation movements but their efforts have often been silenced by platforms afforded to men. Black womxn continue to be at the forefront of these movements and many who fail to understand why this is necessary, are blatantly uncomfortable with black womxn’s anger and rage. The masculine complex of many men are threatened by handing over authority and dominance to womxn.

As Minister Bathabile Dlamini states in her Open Letter to All Male Leadership Figures, men have to be conscious of this entitlement derived from male privilege so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination and violence against womxn. Think about how vulnerable a young woman with no political or economic currency must be and feel every day. That is what we must change if we are to have a peaceful and equitable society.

So with this being said, it is important for men to identify and play their role in shaping society and directing it towards a gender conscious, non-sexist community.

This is what we speak about when we refer to male responsibility in the context of womxn empowerment across all aspects. It will take a community of men who acknowledge how male privilege and masculinities are violent towards womxn, a community of men who understand and recognise when their voices are silencing women’s experiences, and it will take a community of men who understand the centre of their privilege. It is a possible community, it just needs a launching kick from a group of action-oriented, conscious African Feminism allies/partners.


 

Activator aims to unleash the greatness in his community

Mlekeleli Khuzwayo, 2015 activator from KwaMashu in Durban, is giving 100 school uniforms to less privileged children in 10 primary schools at Inanda, Ntuzuma and Kwamashu townships.

During December holidays last year, Mlekeleli looked at how people spend money celebrating  Festive season, while others have none. Khuzwayo thought of what he could do for those who could not afford, and the idea of future planning sparked him.

Although Khuzwayo could not buy them holiday luxuries, his plan was to focus on what comes after.  “I thought of school children whose parents cannot afford to buy school uniforms. I started asking my friends for help, and some of them have been very supportive”, he said.

The Unleash Greatness within Campaign was initiated in January 2016 with the aim to reinforce “the community spirit, ubuntu and taking care of each other,” according to Mlekeleli.

“My motto is: ‘black man you’re on your own’ because we must take care of ourselves. If we don’t look out for each other, who is going to do it for us.” Added Khuzwayo when explaining the idea behind his campaign.

Khuzwayo ‘s initiative focuses on  the connection between the child’s confidence and school uniform, and how it influences children’s performance at school. “When children see that they look the same as others, even though their parents don’t afford, they gain confidence,” he said.

Being a physical trainer and the founder of Triple B Fitness Family helped Mlekeleli identify schools and get support from gym members.

He said that there are teachers who go to his gym, so he told them about this campaign and they helped with identifying schools, and sponsoring the campaign.  

“The people that helped in this campaign are those in my network. I’m sure if we marketed it well, we would be very far. Business people need to invest in young people”, he adds.

Zanele Shelembe, a teacher at UThando Public Primary School, in Inanda, said her school is thrilled to be selected because many learners come from disadvantaged homes, “As teachers we try to help but we can’t help all of them.”

She agrees with Khuzwayo that uniforms play a huge role on how learners see themselves. “This is a good programme because it will help them emotionally and physically- you know what they say, if you look good, you also feel good about yourself,” Shelembe added.

Learners will get their uniforms during the Triple B’s annual gym event to be held at Ntuzuma G Sport Ground on  12 March 2016. “Their schools will be invited, I want the Department of Education to also intervene because if they want children to wear school uniforms that they don’t have, it’s a problem”, says Khuzwayo.

Kwazulu Natal Department of Education, communications manager, Muzi Mahlambi, said communities need more initiatives of this kind, “We welcome any contribution that will assist our learners to have dignity. We encourage to have many Khuzwayos,” he said.

Khuzwayo encourages people to continue supporting this campaign, even after 12 March because school uniforms are always a problem for those who can’t afford. “We are not taking cash but instead we give out a list of specific ages, sizes and schools of the kids chosen. In cases where someone donates money, Tripple B account details are given to that person, we then scan and email proof of purchase back to that person”.

But, this will not be a once-off event, Mlekeleli is also planning a function at the end of the year, where matriculants will only be allowed to the venue if they donate their school uniforms. “I want to stop grade 12 learners from destroying schools uniforms, and show them that they can give it to someone else.”

Mlekeleli believes that ubuntu means that if you have something that your neighbour doesn’t have, you should give them before they even ask you, and you should not expect anything in return or repayment.  

“Today a parent puts under the bed shoes if they no longer fit their children, but they know that there is a child from next door who doesn’t have shoes. What happened to Ubuntu? Someone has to stand up and bring it back, in my community I want to be that person”, Khuzwayo’s words.

One day, Mlekeleli wants to have a house, where learners come for breakfast on their way to school, and come to do homework together after school, “There is so much on our young people. We need to love them. We need to take care of them. That’s what I want to do.”

He says all activators who want to collaborate with him are welcome, “Activators are welcome to work with me in pushing this, but I don’t want lazy people. I don’t want people who make good plans and disappear when it comes to implementation,” he adds.  

As a gym coach, many people know him as a health guru, even his broad-fit shoulders and legs say it all, not to mention the ‘six pack’. When asked where this passion for children comes from, he said, “I’m an artist. I travel a lot. When you go to other countries and realise what other people do for their countries, you just realise that we aren’t doing enough,” he said with his loud deep-toned voice.  

But, still, that doesn’t fully answer where Mlekeleli’s passion comes from, or we all can’t really explain why some things are more important than others? There are many other young people like Mlekeleli in the ACTIVATE! network, who are always revived to bring change for the public good in their communities.

 

 

2016 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS: YOUTH OPPORTUNITY TO RESHAPE SA

On Saturday, 5 March and Sunday, 6 March, South Africans will once again be granted an opportunity to reshape the socio-economic and political future of the country by registering to vote at the fifth Municipal Elections. The 2016 South African Municipal Elections will be held between 18 May and 16 August for all districts and local municipalities in every province.

An alarming statistic is that out of the approximately 9.1 million eligible voters who are not currently registered, more than 80% of them are youth. As an effort to change that, the Independent Electoral Commission has launched a widespread communications and education campaign to encourage first-time voters to register and participate.

Some members of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network, with a mission to make the South African democracy work, shared their views about the 2016 municipal registration and elections. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a network of more than 1600 young change makers or “Activators” across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole.

Western Cape based Activator Siphelele Chirwa is one of many young South Africans who are active in creating public awareness on the importance of registering for the coming Municipal Elections. Chirwa believes that one of the major reasons youth do not vote is that they do not know how local government works. They only interact with local government to express their concerns. Chirwa suggested that youth should not be reminded that voting is their democratic right. Instead the youth should be shown how powerful their votes are towards strengthening our democracy.

Thabang Phokungwana, an Activator from North West pleaded with all unregistered eligible voters, especially the youth, to not only consider  voting as a political process but also as an opportunity to shape the future of South Africa for generations to come.“ We have been told many stories about what our previous leaders have done for South Africa. We might not be facing the same challenges nowadays but they played a major role in securing a free and democratic South Africa for us. It is now up to us to move the country forward and one of the most viable tools we have is voting,” said Phokungwana.

Other young people like Zikhona Mgwali have vowed to use the upcoming municipal elections as a tool to challenge status quo and change South Africa political landscape. Mgwali and many other young people are intending to use the current youth related social and political issues as an ultimatum to make demands from any political party that wants their support. Mgwali said: “For the first time in South African democracy, political leaders will not look at young people as their ticket to higher political self-enriching positions. With issues like Fees Must Fall, young people will make sure that all elected leaders account not just to their constituencies but to the whole country.”

Prominent independent political analyst and Activator, Ralph Mathekg believes that the 2016 Municipal registrations and elections will present many challenges to all political stakeholders who are counting on youth votes. Mathekg said the recent isolated youth uprising incidents will make it even harder for anyone who used to rely on political rhetoric to attract young voters. “Gone are those days where South Africa vibrant and robust politics would force youth to be spectators. Most young people are interested in politics but will only participate under one condition and that is if politicians assure them of specific measurable, attainable, realistic deliverables. Registration and elections alone can never be starting point of attracting young voters. Current youth related issues like Fees Must Fall might play role but I do not foresee any drastic rise of youth registration and voting turnout,” he added.

All registration stations will open from 08h00 untill 17h00 on Saturday 5 March and Sunday 6 March for new voters to register and for existing voters to update and check their registration details. This is also an opportunity for registered voters to ensure that their address information is correct.

Unlike national and provincial elections, voting in a municipal election is only allowed at the station in the voting district in which you are registered to vote. A voter has to register where they live and vote where they are registered. Voters who do not know their voting stations can email IEC at email info@elections.org.za or website www.elections.org.za. Alternatively communicate with IEC through their Twitter handle @IECSouthAfrica or Facebook IECSouthAfrica.

Those who do not have access to the internet can call the IEC call centre on 0800 11 8000 between 7am and 9pm weekdays or dial *120*IEC# (*120*432#). Voters who are already registered can SMS their number to 32810(cost R1) to receive confirmation of their voter registration details including the name of their voting station. 

In terms of the Constitution the election must be held between 18 May and 16 August 2016. The exact date of the 2016 Municipal Elections is yet to be announced by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs David Van Rooyen.