Siyavuya improving prospects for youth in Khayelitsha

Name: Siyavuya Mlungu

Province: Western Cape

Siyavuya Mlungu, describes himself as a business coach and inspirational speaker. He is also passionate about youth entrepreneurship and leadership.

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

As a young person who grew up tough conditions in Khayelitsha, I had big dreams when I transformed my life from being a gangster to being a businessman. I wanted to change young people in the townships who are going through what I went through. For me to do that I had to partner with likeminded people and ACTIVATE was recommended to me by a friend.

So the main reason I joined the ACTIVATE! Network is to grow as leader and be around change makers. 

What did you enjoy the most about training?

LEMON Leadership, and the overall training program. Our facilitators are so interactive and engaging making the training fun yet informative.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

It has raised my level of awareness on HOW I view things. I always responded to life based on my conditioning to neglect social ills. Now I can look at a situation in different ways before attempting to solve it.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

I think the role of the youth to develop South Africa is to come up with new strategies to solve the errors of the past. Strategies that will get rid of competition and introduce more collaboration.

The role of the youth is to build new schools with a new education system, focus more on development instead of entertainment, take part in decisions in parliament, be more involve in our respective communities.

What is your field of interest?

My field of interest is business and leadership, primarily small business and public speaking

How are you driving change in your community?

I host educational workshops and seminars for people who want to live a purpose-driven life, have multiple streams of income, start their own business, and coach those who need guidance and support towards a successful journey.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

I am planning to attend every event that available within the network, connect with other Activators and make a point to contribute directly or indirectly to the success of their initiatives.

I recently finished writing my own book, I am planning to go around the country to launch my book at ACTIVATE training stations. Working with activators in those provinces.

What are your plans for next year?

Next year I plan to start ACTIVATE R1 (One Rand) Crowdfunding. Where we will ask people to contribute at least R1 a month to assist and fund Activator initiatives and programs.

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

In every event or speaking engagement that I will have, ACTIVATE should be available as now I am an ambassador of the network. ACTIVATE Branding and Presentation will be found at my events.

Additional information you would like us to know?

I have a 5-10 year project plan to start and build a private school of business and leadership in Khayelitsha. A school that will teach or specialise in educating young children about business ownership and leadership.   

SA Power in too few hands

Recent developments which seem to have placed truth, freedom of expression and party discipline on a collision course prompted an urgent critique of the prospects for the extension of democracy. 

The promise of the miracle “Rainbow Nation” is premised on the assumption that, with time, the general population – and especially those previously on the margins- would begin to have impact on the overall national agenda as negotiated in Parliament and similar forums. 

This assumption is derived from the long-standing declaration to make the voice of the people more supreme in shaping our beleaguered society. Indeed, one of the most politically sublime declarations of the Congress Alliance as embodied in the Freedom Charter has been that, in the new South Africa, “the people shall govern.”  

Our understanding of this noble principle is that it was meant to put the sovereignty of the population above that of either the government of the day or any individual political party. 

Based on this interpretation, the question then becomes, in what form- at a constitutional level- will people’s sovereignty over the political party and the government be exercised. This constitutional question directly challenges a number of assumptions that seem to have informed the drafting of the final Constitution of our country. 

Broadly, the two major forms of party representations in South Africa are the proportional representation model and the constituency based model. 

No logical reason

While it is understandable why proportional representation was used in the 1994 elections, we find no logical reason why this model was retained in the final Constitution. 

In fact, we believe that its retention represents a historic setback for democracy in SA. 

The adoption of this model transfers the sovereignty of the people to the political elites, and in fact, even undermines prospects for their meaningful participation in the democratic process itself. 

In its crude form, the proportional vote model limits the choices of individual communities on how they would like to be represented in national or regional government structures. 

At yet another level, the model tends to excessively entrench the influence and powers of an already powerful hierarchy within individual parties, a situation more accentuated in our nascent democracy. As an illustration: individual party representatives will always be under the party whip on matters that are taken to the vote, even when issues of principle, and not necessarily policy, are at stake. 

We make this example because we believe that party loyalty should never be elevated above national loyalty. 

In this respect, we believe that individual party representatives should have the latitude to vote against their party where they feel that national interests may be subsumed or compromised by sectional interests. 

Further, we contend that such dissent should not be construed as a betrayal by the individual representatives. Given a constituency base model, one wonders what the outcome of the “will of the people” would have been regarding the dismissal from Cabinet of the ANC’s Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Bantu Holomisa. 

In these cases, there was no broad consultation of the constituencies that effectively put them in their positions in the first place. Obviously the will of the people was totally usurped by the political elite. This illustration shows that the present model will stunt the development of diversity and thereby the maturing of democracy within individual parties and broader society. 

Patronage will inevitably be the predominant mode of operation as loyalty to party hierarchies become a safe route for all aspirant politicians. We cannot overstate the crippling effects such a trend has had. 

In contrast, a constituency-based representation model holds a greater potential for SA. In this case, every parliamentarian has to be chosen by a specific constituency, to which they will ultimately be accountable for their overall performance. Although candidates are initially nominated by their parties, those elected become their community representatives. 

This way, local communities are able to access national institutions by right and design as individual Members of Parliament are forced to maintain a reasonable profile to justify the support they solicit from the community. In turn, the MPs themselves will keep abreast of the concerns of their communities and clearly articulate their concerns. One fundamental benefit from this process is deepening and consolidation of the Democratic process. 

In light of the above, we argue and advocate that the constituency -based model provides the only reasonable affirmation of the Congress Alliance’s declaration on the people’s government. 

We also contend that this model has the capacity to empower even the most marginal of our society, as they too will be in direct contact with national developments. 

Direct contrast

This will be in direct contrast to the current trend in which only the privileged, vociferous and select few seem to enjoy the “visits” and “report back” meetings of parliamentary representatives. 

In turn, local party structures will be elevated beyond mere electioneering and fundraising machines. They would develop the capacity to forcefully impact on the policy dynamics in their national structures. 

In this model, our MPs – having a definite constituency mandate and base- would be able to balance the needs of their parties on the one hand, with those of the nation and constituencies on the other. 

We urge that our political elites make a noble sacrifice for the sake of a healthier democracy. Our growing baby needs a bigger cradle. 


ACTIVATE! CEO declares Mphanama Station Official

On the 24th of November 2016, the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Chief Executive Officer Christopher Meintjies accompanied by the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Limpopo Provincial Acting Representative Koketso Marishane, visited Mphanama (Ga-Kgaphola) in Limpopo Province to meet with the Kgaphola Royal Council and the Tubatse Fetakgomo Municipal officials as part of the national tour to inspect how provinces are functioning.

“We’ve been working tirelessly with Koketso Marishane since ACTIVATE! Change Drivers visited our community. Our youth are very much excited about the program and they’ve joined in large numbers to express their hunger for development,” said Mphanama Community leader, Sir. S.P Kgaphola

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, a free apolitical youth leadership development program represented throughout South Africa, trains South African youth on socio-economic and geo-political dynamics of the country and the world.

“ACTIVATE! has really helped me discover my leadership potential by affording me the platform to showcase my talents as a young person from rural Limpopo”, said Activator Mogau Kgaphola.

There are currently 2000 people in the ACTIVATE! network nation-wide and approximately 500 of them are from Limpopo Province and the program will be continuing for a brief while before it gets discontinued in the near future.

“I’m honoured to be accompanied by the CEO of the program to Mphanama, Ga-Kgaphola. But, I’m equally honoured to be welcomed and appreciated for the work we’ve been doing through the program in the community. Our visit here thus reaffirms our commitment to continue relations as we’ve started and we’re going bigger in terms of the work scope”, said ACTIVATE! Limpopo Acting Provincial Representative, Koketso Marishane.

Mphanama has been identified and acknowledged both at provincial and national level as one of the promising communities needing special focus for development. Through their efforts, reports show that the youth are serious about development hence other records of their predecessors are testimony to that.

“We are fortunate today to be receiving visitors from as far as Western Cape- Cape Town. We’re appreciative of their efforts, but most importantly, their interest in developing our people in this rural space. We promise and commit ourselves as the Fetakgomo-Tubatse Local Municipality to support the initiative for our development”, said the Mphanama Ward Councillor, Mr. S Kgaphola.

“I’m happy to be welcomed, acknowledged and appreciated by the Kgaphola Royal House in their community. I’m also happy to see the wonderful work done by our ACTIVATE! members in this community together with other young people within the Sekhukhune area. I am thus content to declare this venue, the ACTIVATE! Sekhukhune District Station and with that said, I look forward to strengthening relations with people within this area on future projects starting from 2017”, said ACTIVATE! Change Drivers CEO, Christopher Meintjies.

“Our people have for a long time been longing for services. We’re now happy that their cries will be a thing of the past,” concluded the Kgaphola Royal House Representative, Sir. M Kgaphola


A victorious day for women

“I wrap myself around the curvaceous bodies of women all over Africa. I am the perfect nightdress on those hot African nights. The ideal attire for household chores. I secure babies happily on their mothers backs…Armed with proverbs, I am a vehicle for communication between women. I exist for the comfort and convenience of a woman. But make no mistake…I am not here to please a man…Please don’t use me as an excuse to rape. Don’t hide behind me when you choose to abuse…”

This is how Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement, started a dialogue reflecting on violence against women and children. The poem, I am Khanga by Fezekile Khuzwayo, popularly known as Khwezi, was her response to President Jacob Zuma when he was found not guilty of allegedly raping her. Inyathelo felt it necessary to not only pay tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Women’s March to the Union Buildings, but also to remember Khwezi.

The discussion was led by award-winning journalist, Zubeida Jaffer and writer on gender, political and cultural issues, Nomboniso Gasa. “This day is important for a number of reasons. It is important to look beyond the superficial narrative of history. The history of women’s resistance has been misrepresented, it is erased and it is misunderstood. The relationship between power, abuse of power and a woman’s body is well established in the history of the world. As we mark the beginning of 16 Days of Activism, we must pay tribute to the women who refuse to be silent; to the women who insist that their bodies are not battlefields and to women who insist that they will have bodily autonomy,” said Nomboniso.

Simamkele Dlakavu, who was part of the silent protest against President Jacob Zuma, highlighted the importance to address the politics of memory and honouring the history of a woman’s struggle. “What memory are we privileging? Who are telling these stories? Whose voices and histories are being erased? Referencing Pumla Gqola’s book, Rape: A South African Nightmare, Simamkele said the silence we have to break is not for women to speak out, the silence we have to break is who the perpetrators are. Rape is not a perpetrator-less crime,” said Simamkele. From Gqola’s book, she furthermore asserted that there must be a social cost to the actions of rapists. “The burden of shame should not only be felt by women, the perpetrator should also carry shame. There must be a social cost to rape,” she added.

Judy Brooks from the audience, questioned why the only topic of discussion was rape, as there are many different forms of violence against women taking place. Simamkele said violence against women is an everyday violence, women experience it every day. When women are denied transport money to get to work, that is a form of violence. When women are underpaid, that is a form of violence. When women have no access to healthcare or sanitary towels, that is a form of violence. Simamkele went on to point out that cyber violence and online harassment is also a pervading reality for many women. “Safety in the online space needs to be regulated and taken on as a serious issue. The online space is also a space where women should be affirming each other and mobilising,” said Simamkele.

The consensus reached by the panel affirmed that it is important to talk and think about where we are as men and women and our collective challenges. Unity comes from discussion and from understanding each other’s histories. The reciting of Khwezi’s poem is indicative of the collective discriminatory, lived-experiences that countless women endure every day. “The only way we can deal with continued repression, sexual violence and other forms of abuse is through solidarity. This dialogue is an example of solidarity,” said Nomboniso.


Lessons from Europes largest technology conference

The Web Summit 2016 attracted 50 000 attendees for its inaugural four-day conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. The conference brought together delegates from around the world. Activator, entrepreneur and TV show host of BizToday, Nazareen Ebrahim proudly represented Socially Acceptable after being awarded a ‘Women in Tech’ ticket. Socially Acceptable is a South African digital media and communications company she founded nearly three years ago.

“This was an incredible opportunity to learn from my international counterparts, interact with people from all over the globe and absorb a new energy to bring back to a South African context,” said Ebrahim on her return from the summit. “I fully appreciate the opportunities we have as entrepreneurs in South Africa and plan to pursue better solutions for businesses and to empower young people.”

Opening the summit, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced a €200 million venture capital fund to attract overseas startups to settle in Lisbon, Porto and Braga.  “We’ve realised that the best way to support financing is via co-investment and launching this program,” said Costa. “We created this new instrument because we believe that if we make money available to the right people to implement the right processes, we’ll be able to make the big investments to help reinforce a more dynamic and innovative economy,” he explained.

Corporate giants like Facebook, TAP Portugal, KPMG, Delta Caffes (who sponsored the coffee/tea stations for the entire Summit duration), Startup Lisboa, Indeed, Atlassian were feature stars at the Summit.

Prominent speakers also came from sport and film backgrounds. Hollywood actor, Joseph Gordon Levitt, founder of Tinder Sean Rad, soccer icons Ronaldinho and Luis Figo including technology and entrepreneurship expert Gary Vaynerchuck drew crowds at their various addresses and panel discussions.

Listening to Gordon Levitt and soccer heroes Ronaldinho and Luis Figo, Ebrahim said: “The energy and vibe was incredible. Here are individuals who have made tremendous strides in their respective industries and are world renowned, but have still experienced the challenges of growing a startup business. It further confirmed the importance of technological innovation, research and development in all industries.”

“The incredible number of conversations and networking opportunities that came out of the summit blew my mind. I realised that my skillset and knowledge base was on par with my international counterparts and that there is still so much more to be done in terms of knowledge acquisition in the digital and entrepreneurial spaces.”

What’s next for Ebrahim now that she is back in South Africa?

“The summit gave my business vision an electric jolt of new energy and revitalised my thinking around entrepreneurship and technology. Prior to going to the summit, I had started to stagnate in my thinking around growing the business and my service offering. Now that I’ve experienced a world outside my own, connected with like-minded individuals and grown my network with further international experts, I am confident that I can bring even more value to the South African market. As a female tech entrepreneur in this space, it brings me even more joy that I can share my experience with fellow female entrepreneurs and encourage them to travel and attend international conferences to bring them and their businesses a new wave of inspiration and confidence. Attending the Summit was a special experience for me, because it was a year of planning, hard work and dedicated allocation of funds before it was even confirmed that I would attend. God’s hand has been at work in making this trip a successful realisation and this belief is what gets me through building my company each day,” she says.


Activator Shakes Global Entrepreneurship Week

Free State based Activator and social entrepreneur Tshepo Mabuya’s company Afrika Mayibuye Entrepreneurship Hub Accelerator (AMEHA) launched their inaugural Social Entrepreneurship Exchange Summit on 17th to 19 of November at the University of Free State.

The three day summit was launched during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). The summit is  one of the flagship programmes of AMEHA. The aim was to create a networking, collaboration platform for young entrepreneurs who want to scale their businesses, build sustainable Pan-African SMME’s and Cooperatives in South Africa and the African continent.

“We wanted to create a platform in which entrepreneurs in the Free State from all walks of life would meet and collaborate with one another, in order to develop and engage while mobilising stakeholders that would be instrumental in the creation of an effective entrepreneurship ecosystem within the Free State province,” says Mabuya.

The summit was attended by a number of renowned social entrepreneurs like Joe Nawaya and Elliot Sithole from Creative Mind Space; captains of industries, Phallang Mofokeng from Kasi Entrepreneurship Youth Summit; entrepreneurship incubators like Gary Smith from Ubuntu Business; managerial leadership Organisations like Black Managemhy Forum represented by the Student Chapter Free State Chair Ayavuya Madolo and one of the best emerging chartered marketers Lebohang Matlabe  from Leknaka Media.

Mabuya’s company (AMEHA) collaborated with Ubuntu Business Consulting, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Creative Mind Space, Kasi Entrepreneurship Youth Summit, Unqeto IT Solutions, Women in Agriculture, Kairos Conglomerate Lenaka Media and Communications, Mayibuye World, Dream Afrika Magazine, CUTFM, Black Management Forum Student Chapter, Central University of Technology and University of the Free State

Mabuya attributes his personal entrepreneurial journey and event success to organisations like ACTIVATE! Leadership: “ACTIVATE! has helped my entrepreneurship journey through SWITCH where I learned how to improve my business operations through the business modeling canvas. ACTIVATE! has also played a very important role in branding and resource sponsorships with an aim of making the summit a resounding success. Last but not least ACTIVATE! has supported me in my journey through the Community Development Course. This is where I learned the importance of project planning and project execution.” he says.

While explaining the event timing significance Mabuya says: “We decided to host the event during GEW as a way of ensuring that the entrepreneurship flair that we aimed at sparking is in line with the GEW and that this will enable entrepreneurs to feel that indeed they are part of the Global Entrepreneurship Movement.”

AMEHA founders are planning to make Social Entrepreneurship Exchange Summit one of the major Africa-based annual entrepreneurial events on the calendar. The bigger future plan is to make sure that the Social Entrepreneurship Exchange Summit addresses the ongoing entrepreneurship challenges like lack of funding, access to market, while creating conducive intra-Africa small and medium enterprises trade and facilitated mentorship, and promote emerging African entrepreneurs and their startup businesses.

“The post summit feedback has given us a lot of ideas on what to improve next year. For us, it is very clear that the best ways of improving this summit will include working together with stakeholders like the NYDA, Department of Small Business Development, business schools, entrepreneurship accelerators, business advocacy organisations like the Black Management Forum,  fellow entrepreneurs, activators and off course ACTIVATE! Leadership business flagship programme, Switch,” says Mabuya.

Mayibuye Entrepreneurship Hub Accelerator has already helped develop over 60 youth led SMME’s, cooperatives. The company provides services like business boot camps, social entrepreneurship exchange summits, youth entrepreneurship festivals, company registrations and brand development. The company’s co-founders are working on establishing an NPO-SMME Mentorship Programme for its clients where clients can get first hand mentorship and guidance from well established companies and non-profit organisations.

Activators and civil society members interested in knowing more about Afrika Social Entrepreneurship Exchange Summit can visit their website: www.ameha.co.za or contact the Afrika Mayibuye Entrepreneurship Hub Accelerator Social Entrepreneurship Exchange Summit organizers on 081 395 9054 or 0739414565 or via their email info@ameha.co.za.

Facebook: Afrika Mayibuye Entrepreneurship Hub Accelerator

Twitter: @AnehaLtd

Instagram: ameha_biz

A! Mens Freeze Flash Mobb

It was the 19th November 2016 when A! Men invaded the historical Vilakazi Street in Soweto to do a first Freeze Flash Mobb. The idea is very simple, members of the organisation wear the A! Men gear and placards with messages on them. This was done on an important day for men the world over, International Men’s Day.

International Men’s Day was started with a clear focus on men. The month also coincides with Movember, an annual charity event, and also has Universal Children’s Day on the 20th November. The objectives for this day are many, yet can be summarised in the following: “A focus on men’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care.” www.internationmensday.com 

It was an incredible to see, both women and men intrigued by the messages that were on the placards hanging around the necks of Activators Amos Malungane,  Njabulo Mabaso, Nhlanhla Ndlovu, Siphiwe Mngadi and Themba Mzimba. The messages on the placards was intended to stimulate discussion around men and their role in society. It did just that! A Caucasian male commented: “Thank you for bringing something so different and powerful to Vilakazi Street. I wish you could do this to also spark conversation around “blessers”, and the effect of these relationships in the growing number of HIV infections amongst young girls.”

The crowds were amazed that a group of young men came out boldly to spread positive messages about men. The public were also had opinions as to the importance of men in society. Many echoed the idea that if men took up their place in society, we would not have as much problems as we do today.

One placard read “The true index of a man is in the health of his woman.” One of A! Men’s messages is that of raising gentlemen. Men who are not shy to wear a three piece suit and take his lady on a date. One who is not shy to open his woman’s door when she gets into a car, men who are not afraid to cook, clean, do laundry and serve their women. For doing these things does not make a man weak, it rather shows his strength.

Amidst all the mess that men are surrounded by, it truly is worth noting that men also have plenty to celebrate. And plenty still to teach young men. T Edison observed: “Opportunity is often missed because it comes dressed in work suits.”  A! men will not miss opportunities because it come as work. A good society needs labourers to be built.

 

The role of education in transformation

The journey was a powerful and an amazing experience and I am still humbled by the various lessons I gained. Emotions were rolling up and down especially when I did not know what will be happening the following day even though it was exciting to be in the “survivor” show. I found myself asking what happens when unity is practiced, what happens when powerful minds come together to share powerful ideas? What was achieved by A! Bus journey was historically significant, a titanic battle of ideas was the order of the journey.

Visiting the East London Museum made me realised that transformation is key for the country to move forward. We can learn about transformation but we haven’t practically applied it in our communities. It is our responsibility as citizens to take charge of our transformation. While we look at the bright future we should acknowledge our heritage and identity. It is important that communities get involved, as Steve Biko said, black communities are tired of standing on the touchlines to witness the game that they should be playing. They want to do things for themselves and by themselves.

During the journey, I have gained insight about the EC province, in fact there is a lot that South Africa can achieve through transformation of our heritage and leadership. It is imperative that we realise the important role of education in transformation through the introduction to multiple frames of reference that are all seen as equally valid. Education should open spaces for critical engagement with the differences and possibilities across a range of worldviews. We acknowledge that there are different ways of being that are equal, even though they are different, and creates spaces for critical engagement with a difference. We need to accommodate diverse methods of enquiry, drawing from different worldviews and philosophical underpinnings. Bringing varying intellects, scholars of theory and practice, liberal thoughts, pan-africanist thoughts, masters of thesis, synthesis and anti-thesis, individuals who possess clarity of thoughts and profundity of thoughts made this journey a nucleus of what the future holds for ACTIVATE as an organisation.  I am inspired by the possibilities of responding to our community issues and realities within the local/national context.  

No words can express the gratitude felt and the sheer pleasure of the participants in engaging in this very necessary topic for vision 2030. This engagement shall be the catalyst for more vigorous and frank discussions the network will have and we shall once again humbly expect your contributions.

I am looking forward to the beloved community which will be formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world – bell hooks.

I look forward to continued engagements and keeping a cohesive network.


A Gentlemans Perspective

I am sick and tired of carrying the heavy chains placed upon my neck by earlier generations of men. I am sick of being a victim of society which has labelled me a rapist, murderer, abuser and destroyer because of men not in control of themselves who have lost the plot entirely. Ladies, there are men like me out there, not preoccupied by images in my head about how I am going to pin you down in bed. There are men out there who can give you a compliment without the expectation of receiving your number in return. In the following paragraphs, I want to make it clear that all men cannot be boxed into one, and generally accept being called dogs. I am not a dog, I am a classy gentleman with integrity and respect.

THERE ARE MEN OUT THERE who will respond to your text messages. Men who will initiate conversations because they simply can’t wait to see what you’ll say next. There are men who will never be too busy or too preoccupied to wish you a good morning. Men who remember to call when they say they will – because they want to – and those who surprise you with their curiosity about your seemingly monotonous days. There are men who aim to be the last person you talk to before you sleep, and the first name you see on your screen when you rise. Men who show up on time – or even early – men who are genuinely excited to see you.

There are men who want to go on dates. Real dates. Men who want to take you out to their favourite restaurant and will never expect you to pay, but always appreciate the gesture. There are men who want to talk to you for longer than one drink after work, just to get you upstairs. There are men you don’t need to convince to see you. Men who aren’t purely motivated to be your sexual partner, but just love being around you. There are men who won’t wait three days — or even three hours– to ask you out again. Men who have grown past games and cryptic messages that you don’t have time to decode. There are men who simply, truly just want to get to know you.

There are men who want to hold your hand in public. Men who enjoy walking around department stores shopping for things they can’t afford but love the feeling of your tiny fingers interlaced with their adorably bony knuckles. There are men who love sitting next to you on the downtown train just so they can look at your face, even if they notice the uneven lines and imperfect skin in the terrible lighting, because they can’t imagine another way to spend their Saturday afternoon. Men who wish they could capture the wonder on your face when you see a new part of the city you didn’t know you loved, but now do. Men who want to show you off to the strangers on the street because they find you so incredibly intoxicating. There are men who are happy to be seen by your side, thankful to be someone you choose to roam about town with.

There are men who want to be your boyfriend, who are totally excited to introduce you as their girlfriend to their friends and to their families. There are men out there who are ready for a relationship, who aren’t ripe with excuses about the timing or the situation, that the feeling or the possibility just isn’t right. Men who don’t blame yesterday on their immature inability to develop something today and imagine tomorrow. There are men who wouldn’t pass on the chance to be yours because they know how amazing – how special – how superbly wonderful you are, and that they’re lucky you want to be with them, and only them. There are men who don’t hesitate on title changes or commitment. Men who want to grow with you and learn with you, love you the best way they can, be with you as long as you allow them to. Men who don’t reply “thank you” when you say those precious three words.

There are even men who say that incomparable phrase first, not second. There are men who are proud of your successes, not intimidated by them. Men who are amazed by your determination and passion, who see the things inside of you that you can’t notice yet, or decide to ignore. There are men who believe in your future as much as they believe in the world you can create together. Men who want to witness your bad times and your good, be there when you fail and celebrate when you find that sense of belonging that we all look for, but never quite understand what it means until we stumble across it.

There are men who know when to buy yellow tulips and kiss your forehead when you’ve had a rough day, men who remember you don’t ever take advice in the worst of situations, but you’ll want to hear it in the morning. Men who remind you of all the things to come and promise to be there when you get to the top of that mountain you’re climbing.

There are men who listen. Men who linger on each and every word you say because they know they will never know too much about you, and are intrigued to always learn more, regardless of how long they’ve known you. There are men who have the ability to put your needs before their own, who remember the first time they noticed something different about you. Men who like the way you look right after a long shower or a night run, when you’re dressed to go out and when you’re in your sweats from college. Men who see your insecurities but find them only a small part of what makes you beautiful. There are men who will remember your birthday, the day you met, the moment they knew they loved you and when you made them want to be a better person. There are men who love your thoughtful heart as much as they’re turned on by your soft body. Men who know how hard you like it, what part of your neck gets you going and that sometimes, you really just need to be spooned until you fall asleep. There are men who will accept you for whatever you are, whoever you are, whenever you decide to be that person in that place. Men who will stand by you and fight for you because they know you’re worth it. Because they know you’d do the same for them.

There are men who truly, honestly, completely will love you. There are SO MANY men out there. But you’ll never meet them if you don’t LET GO of the guys you really don’t want, in order to find men you really deserve. The men who are waiting to meet someone just like You.  

 

COMMUNITY OF PABELLELO VOWS TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST VIOLENCE

All roads led to Upington in the Northern Cape on Saturday to discuss the critical issue of how we can promote a violence-free society in a time when numerous communities are tormented by violent rebellion. Upington is home to only six Activators, Dineo Segopisho, German Jacobs, Nadine Jacobs, Lea Nkathane, Mmeza Gaborone and Mandilakhe Mbob who adopted the name K6-Krag Van Ses (Power of six). With little to no resources, these six individuals have been a powerful force within their communities. With the assistance of Northern Cape Activators from Kimberly, Kuruman, Oliefantshoek and Springbok, they started a conversation with the community of Pabellelo around what it would take to achieve a society where violence is not prevalent. The dialogue was an intense discussion that shook many in attendance and took us out of our comfort zones to force us to tackle this very real issue haunting and tearing our communities apart.

With the participation of Stakeholders like the South African Police Services (SAPS) represented by Warrant Officer Marina Brewis; the Community Policing Forum of Pabellelo (CPF) represented by the Chairperson, Samuel Sandlana and the South African Student Congress (SASCO) represented by Regional Executive, Richard Moncusi, the dialogue started with a simple question: What is Violence and what are the Causes of violence?

Facilitated by Activators, Nadine Jacobs and Lea Nkathane, Warrant Officer Brewis explained that: “Violence starts by anger that we carry around because of incidents in our lives we never dealt with, as a result, we direct that energy to violence. We need to find peace within ourselves and deal with symptoms that cause violence. Violence is furthermore common because of the abuse of alcohol.” In my estimation as an Activator, I explained that violence is caused by the intergenerational transfer of poverty which causes a ripple effect in the community. With so many unemployed young people, combined with factors like alcohol and drug abuse, the  effects of sustaining the needs of an individual eventually leads to various forms of violence.

Youth leader, Lee-Roy Mbusha explained that violence is also learned behaviour: “Violence is what we learn in our family homes. For instance, if one has a violent father and elder brother, eventually as a child we learn these behaviours and we think it’s right. We grow up and only then do we realise that it is wrong, but then it’s too late because we’ve already learned the behaviour.”

Because the community is faced with many persistent forms of violence, the community of Pabellelo was grateful to have the opportunity to ask SAPS, the CPF and SASCO questions on how to ensure the community stays free from violence. The collective consensus reached was that a non-violent society starts with us. The community agreed that the dialogue should continue because silence can no longer observed against the plague of violence: “We need to be accountable for one another and keep each other accountable for our actions, it’s not only the job of SAPS and the CPF but the community to ensure safety in our community,” said Dineo Segophiso.

The powerful dialogue came to an end with Activators asking the community to continue discussing issues of this nature and to continue supporting one another in all areas of life. Activators furthermore challenged community members to make a personal pledge to the future of Pabellelo and what small actions or steps they are going to take to ensure that their commitment is carried through. Community members thanked ACTIVATE! and encouraged them to continue driving change. They also extended a warm gratitude of thanks for the K6 Activators from the community who inspire and motivate them through tough circumstances. The event ended with Activators and the community of Pabellelo singing and dancing.

If you’re interested in hosting an Imbizo or want to find out about upcoming Imbizo’s, contact: lezerine@localhost

A deep desperation for change

On the 26th of October 2016 a group of young leaders embarked on a journey in the Eastern Cape which took up three central themes: (i) Tracing back history, (ii) Steve Biko’s Legacy and (iii) Fort Hare University (UFH) and its role in the liberation movement.

As young leaders we were slapped with the reality of our current circumstances, basing this on the history of South Africa as seen through the eyes of East London and its rich legacy. We first took a step back into history; each day was filled with what I call, “an awakening to realise the need to go back to the future!” Each day roused in us the conviction that South Africa still has a long way to go before we all can enjoy what it has to offer.

As I reflect on the week that was, I cannot help but feel a deep desperation for change. I feel as though I have been plunged into a deep sense of nostalgic pain of a time I did not experience, and yet felt the pain so acute, so profound, it forced me to consider my position in society and the role I play in advocating change.

The journey was an eye opener. Journeying into past roads in the shoes of those who have already walked in them, an experience which was both emotional and a reality check, simultaneously.

The Steve Biko and UFH tour opened my eyes to the fallible education system that seeks to undermine the black brand further. It perpetuates slavery through systematic miseducation of the black mind (as defined by Robert Sobukwe – ‘an African whose allegiance is to the natural black child). Discussions amongst the youth erupted around the issue of education many times during the tour. The sentiment that was robustly debated was the fall of the current education system which does nothing for the development of the black child. It does nothing to help the black child understand himself/herself and his/her potential, consequently, the black child remains under the white child, as a result, the black child will never reach a state where she is primus inter pares (first amongst equals) with non-white South Africans, notwithstanding the global village.

I, ergo, am resolved to be a leader in the edge of chaos, who will lead a disruptive divergence from the status quo, to lead through education that develops the black child to be black, and in her blackness, to not look discriminatorily at other races as though they are inferior to hers, rather, to achieve a state of being a first amongst equals. To appreciate every race and what it has to offer in the greater scheme of things, all the while not compromising herself or subordinating herself to other races.

The A! Bus journey reminded me of what Carter G Woodson said in his book The Miseducation of the Negro when he observed: “If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.” 

This, in a nutshell is what I found myself reflecting on throughout the journey. All skin colours that fall under the black child reference has a mammoth task, tantamount to moving mountains, and that task is to undo what has been done over four centuries of miseducation, and to educate herself anew for future generations to truly enjoy the sacrifices and wisdom of African giants like; Thomas Sankara, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, inkosi Albert Luthuli, Goven Mbeki, Patrice Lumumba, Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyata, Carter G Woodson, Marcus Garvey, W E B DuBois, Sellina Johnson-Sirleaf, Haile Selasie, Kwame Nkruma, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngosi Adichie, Bessie Head and the likes.

This trace into the past has been an incredible journey, and indeed did not end when the bus drove off, leaving us young leaders transformed, emotional and resolved to fight for a better South Africa and Africa in her greatness; rather, the journey continues long after this retreat by the bus, we will fight on, having our first mission being very clear: Influencing the redo of the Steve Biko statue standing in the corner of a block of East London municipal offices.

 

Thank you Activate Leadership for an experience with so much value, no amount of words can express.

On the 26th of October 2016 a group of young leaders embarked on a journey in the Eastern Cape which took up three central themes: (i) Tracing back history, (ii) Steve Biko’s Legacy and (iii) Fort Hare University (UFH) and its role in the liberation movement.

As young leaders we were slapped with the reality of our current circumstances, basing this on the history of South Africa as seen through the eyes of East London and its rich legacy. We first took a step back into history; each day was filled with what I call, “an awakening to realise the need to go back to the future!” Each day roused in us the conviction that South Africa still has a long way to go before we all can enjoy what it has to offer.

As I reflect on the week that was, I cannot help but feel a deep desperation for change. I feel as though I have been plunged into a deep sense of nostalgic pain of a time I did not experience, and yet felt the pain so acute, so profound, it forced me to consider my position in society and the role I play in advocating change.

The journey was an eye opener. Journeying into past roads in the shoes of those who have already walked in them, an experience which was both emotional and a reality check, simultaneously.

The Steve Biko and UFH tour opened my eyes to the fallible education system that seeks to undermine the black brand further. It perpetuates slavery through systematic miseducation of the black mind (as defined by Robert Sobukwe – ‘an African whose allegiance is to the natural black child). Discussions amongst the youth erupted around the issue of education many times during the tour. The sentiment that was robustly debated was the fall of the current education system which does nothing for the development of the black child. It does nothing to help the black child understand himself/herself and his/her potential, consequently, the black child remains under the white child, as a result, the black child will never reach a state where she is primus inter pares (first amongst equals) with non-white South Africans, notwithstanding the global village.

I, ergo, am resolved to be a leader in the edge of chaos, who will lead a disruptive divergence from the status quo, to lead through education that develops the black child to be black, and in her blackness, to not look discriminatorily at other races as though they are inferior to hers, rather, to achieve a state of being a first amongst equals. To appreciate every race and what it has to offer in the greater scheme of things, all the while not compromising herself or subordinating herself to other races.

The A! Bus journey reminded me of what Carter G Woodson said in his book The Miseducation of the Negro when he observed: “If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.” 

This, in a nutshell is what I found myself reflecting on throughout the journey. All skin colours that fall under the black child reference has a mammoth task, tantamount to moving mountains, and that task is to undo what has been done over four centuries of miseducation, and to educate herself anew for future generations to truly enjoy the sacrifices and wisdom of African giants like; Thomas Sankara, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, inkosi Albert Luthuli, Goven Mbeki, Patrice Lumumba, Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyata, Carter G Woodson, Marcus Garvey, W E B DuBois, Sellina Johnson-Sirleaf, Haile Selasie, Kwame Nkruma, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngosi Adichie, Bessie Head and the likes.

This trace into the past has been an incredible journey, and indeed did not end when the bus drove off, leaving us young leaders transformed, emotional and resolved to fight for a better South Africa and Africa in her greatness; rather, the journey continues long after this retreat by the bus, we will fight on, having our first mission being very clear: Influencing the redo of the Steve Biko statue standing in the corner of a block of East London municipal offices.

Thank you Activate Leadership for an experience with so much value, no amount of words can express.


The shameful shenanigans of the elite

South Africa never ceases to amaze, but then again, few things remain amazing.

As South Africans, we need to commend the positive contribution made by former Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela for the sterling work her office had done. Despite the limited resources at her disposal, she enlightened both the country and our international allies that, nobody is untouchable. 

The report by Adv. Madonsela awakens us to many points, but for the sake of time, I’ll state a few and hope for the remainder, will be unpacked in time.

Prior to the emergence of the ANC Administration, the Bophutatswana (North West) Government Chief Administrator Mangope once told the citizens that the oncoming ANC government will mock, humiliate and alienate them because it’s a party full of unscrupulous criminals who care about nobody but themselves.

20 plus years later, the ANC government has been in power, and what has the country seen? A government administration that is too reluctant to get rid of poverty, inequality and unemployment. A government that is too reluctant to quench a culture of powerlessness in a people previously excluded. A government that’s too reluctant to create leaders, from a class which is heavily consumed by an excruciating hunger for assimilation. The current ANC group has, undoubtedly, become a disappointment.

Mindful of the reality faced by the youth, it’d be interesting to know how government executives plan restore faith in their offices- like Adv. Madonsela has done. To date, SA youth still pass through schools that don’t teach, forced to search for jobs that don’t exist and ultimately left stranded in the streets to stare at the glamorous lives advertised around them.

The State Capture Report by Adv. Madonsela exposes us to some of the cruel, barbaric but astonishing realities South Africa has reached. Shameful shenaniganism executed by people entrusted with sensitive spaces of public responsibilities.

Never mind the endless rhetoric by pseudo-politicians in courts represented by lawyers, never mind the endless protests in metropolis by citizens expressing energised disgust, politicians simply don’t care! And of course, the poor are at the receiving end.

What’s rather frustrating is the psychological impact these barbaric deeds have on our emerging youth, especially in rural areas. What messages and meanings do they receive from their leaders in public spaces? That it’s okay to burn learning institutions?

Searching for positives

Es’kia Mphahlele used to say: “I am an irrepressible teacher and will teach anywhere I am invited to, as long as I will not be subjected to play the role of a token nigger.” For a large majority amongst ourselves, it’d be shameful if we travel “down second avenue” for retrospections. Our predecessors are laughing at us wherever they are.

During my visits to schools as adjudicator with NEA, I am always struck by how old some of our schools in urban areas are. Some are so old that their proud alumni in their middle-age life are freely servicing (maintaining) the structures by contributing either dedicated material or immaterial resources for institutional development. Such are people doing positive things towards the healthy development of society, the nation and ultimately the world. Through their tiny ripples of effect, they become every day heroes the youth can look up to.

In relation to the former, it’d be interesting to know how many developmental institutions of the ANC government still remain intact. Seemingly, for a nation that sees colour, most facilities in “black-communities” built by the ANC government were of very poor quality. It’s thus not difficult at all to understand why mostly “black youth” are alienated from developmental institutions because they eventually resort to burning them in anger. There’s a notion that says: “talk when you’re angry and you’ll make the greatest speech to regret.”

With the emergence of democracy, our parents had hoped for among other things, equal opportunities so we’d start playing roles in building our own institutions and developing ourselves to be the present-future role models for our successors in the process. Amusingly, we continue to form or join professional clubs with the hope of combating the ill-ecosystem that exists in our professional spaces.  

The questions that arise then are, amongst all these professional associations that our elites come from, are we seeing positive value? Is the end result worthy of the investment? Is the impact generally positive for our national discourse?

It’s worrisome that, for a large majority among “blacks,” black parents continue to leave their developmental institutions in their rural communities, travel hundreds of kilometres away from their dwellings only to enrol their kids in former model-c schools. The reality is worrisome because the direct translation is that “blacks are incapable of developing themselves” and for as long as the case perpetuates, blacks will have nothing as their point of reference.

What’s rather puzzling is the insane ideological notion that our black elders continue to entrench in the psyche of black kids that for them to develop into strong, diverse and intellectually well balanced people, they must be trained by other professionals outside their racial group.

Amidst all these fascinating humiliations, we need to redeem ourselves, start-afresh and re-make our beloved country great again. Yes, We Can!

Koketso Marishane is a community youth development practitioner and writes as a concerned citizen.  

A suicidal gay community

I was 18 years old when I tried to commit suicide. One afternoon on my way home from school I decided to walk in front of a moving car. The worst part is, this was not the first attempt. Three weeks before, I had taken a little over 120 pills in attempt to kill myself.  I was depressed, alone and had no hope for change because of my sexuality. I had no one to talk to and the people who could see that I was hurting did not support who I was. I was shunned by my family, rejected by other teenagers and ridiculed by the church. I had nothing to live for. I am writing this today because I survived. I survived the pain of being misunderstood and the fear of rejection; the torture of being looked down upon and the heartache of continuously being made fun of for being a bit different. I survived depression. 

However, many gay kids aren’t as lucky as I was. Depression amongst gay men is serious and it is often because of patriarchal ideologies. We teach our children that men are governed by certain laws of nature and aren’t allowed to be different. We often show children that it is okay to mistreat those that seem different from the prescribed ways of being an average man. We even end up teaching our children that it is okay to hate yourself if you aren’t masculine. I’m beginning to think that being gay threatens the existence of heterosexuality. One could say that masculinity is fragile and for the gay community it makes it quite dangerous. 

Statistics show that at least 9% of gay/bisexual men have committed suicide due to depression, compared to just 0.5% of all men in general. It has also been said that 53% of gay men have suffered mental illness in their lives and a little over 40% of them have attempted suicide. It truly breaks my heart to know that we live in a world where it is okay for men to hold guns but it is considered disgusting for two men to hold hands.

It is not just men who practice this kind of prejudice though. A lot of women have patriarchal views too. Numerous times I have heard women say that they love gay men but would never accept their children for being gay. I have heard this even from some of my own friends. Some claim that it is because they do not want to see their children go through what we have to go through every day and some say it is because they want their children to marry women and fulfil their duties as “real men.” 

Our communities need to come together to fight for love, happiness and compassion. They need to try a little harder to accept and understand gay men instead of just tolerating our existence. I want my nephew and my son to know that being different is not wrong. The world needs to teach children to always love and accept themselves. To be who and what they are without having to explain themselves to anyone. We cannot build proper communities if we celebrate the death of another because we don’t accept who they say they are. We are human first before we are men and we are men first before we are gay. So maybe next time you decide to bully someone for being different, take a minute to think about the damage you might be causing them. No one in their right mind would choose to be something that the whole world hates so much.   

Image from askideas.com

YOUNG LEADERS DISCUSS POSSIBILITIES OF A VIOLENCE FREE SOCIETY IN UPINGTON

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                   

10 November 2016                                                                                                                           

 YOUNG LEADERS DISCUSS POSSIBILITIES OF A VIOLENCE FREE SOCIETY IN UPINGTON     

Following the Anti-Drug Silent March in October, which aimed at creating a drug-free community, network of young South Africans, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers will convene a dialogue, the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo, in Upington to establish means of realising a non-violent society. The dialogue will take place on Saturday, 12 November at Thembelihle Hall in Paballelo from 11h00 till 13h00, in time for the International 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.  

One of the organisers, Dineo Segophiso, says the Anti-Drug Silent March was a first step towards creating a safe environment for all residents. After the march, a pledge to all residents to participate towards the creation of drug-free society was compiled and made available at the Paballelo police station for everyone to sign in agreement. “Following the success of the March, a dialogue with community members to discuss violence and crime seemed like a sensible second step,” says Segophiso.

Given the rate of crime and violence that continues to sky rocket in South Africa, there is an urgent need to develop and execute more strategies to exterminate the contributing factors. With 2183001 (50665 from the Northern Cape) reported crimes in 2016, South Africa is amongst the most violent countries in the world. Despite measures by the officials to ensure the safety of all citizens, more crimes are reported every day.

ACTIVATE Change Drivers’ Lezerine Mashaba says the initiatives by the government that are designed to reduce violence are in vain if citizens are not creatively coming up with more ways to deal with the problem to meet the government halfway.

Members of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network, known as Activators, from Northern Cape are playing a significant role in bettering their communities, thus ensuring not only a safe environment but also a progressive one. For example, Mmeza Gaborone from Upington runs Bokomoso Jwa Ka, a non-profit organisation that provides career guidance and motivational talks to young women in that area. Gaborone believes that empowering women will ultimately play a role in ensuring their safety and security. Buyiswa Nkathane, also from Upington, established an anti-drug campaign, to promote a drug a drug free society. The campaign also provides post-rehab support to recovering drug addicts.

“Activators have invited Upington community members to this dialogue which will also involve community upliftment organisations and civic organisations to discuss the root causes of violence. We will then brainstorm different approaches in which we can resolve these issues,” says Mashaba 

Love Life, South African Police Services, Department of Social Development community radio station, Radio Riverside are some of the organisations that will be present to engage with the audience. The session will be as interactive as possible to encourage maximum participation of all attendants, thereby enabling environment for teaching and learning.

For more information and details on how you can participate or attend, please contact Buyiswa Nkhathane on 076 079 1207 or Dineo Segophiso on 076 436 3375.

ends.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

– ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a network of 2000 young change makers across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole. The Network connects these young people and equips them with necessary knowledge and skills to thrive in their respective efforts.

– Journalists are welcome to join the dialogue and engage with the stakeholders

 Issued by ACTIVATE! Change Drivers. For more information please visit www.activateleadership.co.za

For media related queries, please contact:

Nelisa Ngqulana

Communications Manager: ACTIVATE! Change Drivers

Email: nelisa@localhost (cc: communications@localhost)

Cell: 073 817 8017

THE ACTIVATOR 2016

In this bumper edition, catch up on Activator stories; events; Imbizo’s; the You Count Survey; what happened when ACTIVATE was represented at the UNESCO Conference and a new Innovation Challenge for 2016. Filled with photo’s and successes of the Network, this edition promises to be a good read!  

Content Highlights:

Page 8: Imbizo’s: Find out about all the Imbizo’s held for 2016 and gauge the media reach across the country.

Page 4: Walala Wasala: Meet Activators who participated in the Walala Wasala television series.

Page 5: Taking to the polls: As we look back on the local government elections, we find out what communities have to say and how the You-th is Making Local Government Work.

Page11: Connecting Communities: The inaugural rural dialogue series was a resounding success. We highlight the success of three rural dialogues held in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. 

Page 14: Switchers Making a difference: We look back on the SWITCH year that was and the inugural SWITCH Weekend Seminar.

Page 15: Training in Action: We take you through Module 3 highlights.

Page 17: ACTIVATE Educating: We introduce the Community Development Certificate Course (CDCC) to the network.

Page 20: The A! App: Find out ways to keep in touch with the network.

Page 22: The Innovation Challenge: We challenge Activators to come up with innovative ways of dealing with social ills.

Page 30: Where are your ACTIVATE stations?: We show you where all the ACTIVATE stations are across the country.

To explore is to experience

Mmeza Gaborone from Upington who participated in the Gauteng leg of the ACTIVATE! Journey, reflects on what the journey meant to her.  

My experience on the A! bus journey with fellow Activators from different provinces was immensely exciting. The journey came with cleansing, clarity and closure of Activating2030. I marveled at the sublime peace which the journey brought to my soul. The combination of nature and learning created a sincere and calming duet. The initiative was a testament to the possibilities of realising a better South Africa by 2030, as contemplated in the National Development Plan (NDP). I was also able to observe personal behaviors from my fellow Activators and our guests during the Gauteng leg of the A! Journey. Although my way forward comes with limitations, my experience during the journey will benefit my path.  

The first day started with profiling of Activators and ascertaining what country we imagine in 2030. Shooting a television series in front of big cameras was a great experience. On the second day, the adventure began to The Cradle of Humankind, Sterkfontein Caves where we spent our day with Dr Nonhlanhla Vilakazi. We spent the day engaging and interacting with each other about Roots and Identity. Where do we come from? What does it mean to be human and why does it matter?  Many of us were confused and could not immediately differentiate between the two. The A! Journey was remarkable and unforgettable as memories were made.

On the third day we made our way to the infamous John Vorster Square, a place that was used as a detention centre mostly for political activists. Those sent to “detention” were not allowed to have any contact with family members. We were privileged to meet and engage with former detainees, Dr Prema Naidoo and Dr Elizabeth Floyd who shared with us their views on the current state of our nation. The mood was somber as many of us we were touched by the stories we heard. We also visited John Vorster SAPS to meet South African artist Mr Pat Mautloa who explained the inspiration behind his sculpture, “Simakade” the big beautiful rock.

As I reflect on the last day of the journey, I became more excited and was in high spirits imagining the future of South Africa by 2030. Our journey continued to Soweto where we were joined by Seth Mazibuko, a student leader at the forefront of the June 16, 1976 student uprising. During his speech, he touched our hearts with the horrific story about how he was tortured at the age of 16 years. Visiting the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum held significant importance in the political history of South Africa. For many of us, it was the first time we visited the historic site which was an honor. I extend my gratitude and well wishes to my beloved Activators who joined me on the A! Bus in Gauteng. God bless our hustle. I’m honored and humbled to be part of the A! Bus Journey. #Activating2030

 To follow the incredible ACTIVATE! Journey visit: www.activateleadership.co.za/journey

Dignity for International Migrants

As part of a public consultation process, The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) released its Green Paper on International Migration. ACTIVATE! Leadership as a youth based organisation analysed the document and presented recommendations.

The Green Paper has both problematic and encouraging aspects which this report will try to engage with, as well as provide some recommendations.

Organisations collaborated on a discussion document to submit to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) for the published International Migration Green Paper. The aim of this collaboration was to provide a unified voice on what the issues and solutions civil society has in regard to the aforementioned pieces of legislation.

 The outcome of the discussion were solutions that spoke to the language and tone of the Migration policy- specifically in regard to the glaring class-distinctions that the policy seems to make- perhaps unwittingly.

 POSITIVE ASPECTS OF THE GREEN PAPER:

 ?     The department of home affairs is correct in pointing out that the current South African immigration policies are largely based on Colonial and Apartheid policies and conceptions of migration. The recreation of the immigration policy to address the issues around the favouring of Europeans over Africans is necessary and something that should be welcomed.

 ?     The Department is also right in stating that the 1999 White Paper failed to anticipate the additional budget, resources and capacity for managing South Africa’s current migration needs. The constraints on the processing of asylum seeker applications should be addressed, but in addition the state must ensure the human dignity of all who enter South Africa.

 ?     The proposed solution around SADC integration and skills development are adequate and implementable. The proposal for low-skilled regional visa has the potential to help the state better manage regular migration if it is well-managed and regulated.

 ?     The documents willingness to engage with South Africans in the Diaspora seems like a positive step towards attracting skills and income from South Africans abroad, however this section of the paper needs to be better elaborated because it is not really clear.

?     The green paper has outlined a real issue that South Africa faces, that is that the country needs skilled professionals and currently attracting or retaining these skilled individuals has proved difficult. In this regard, the Green Paper stipulates a proposal to award permanent residence to qualifying international migrants this is a very positive step towards fixing the skills shortage problem and to foster better relations with fellow Africans.

?     Although the Green Paper rightly acknowledges the view that ‘foreigners are invading South Africa and stealing jobs’ is grossly exaggerated, there’s no clear and direct condemnation in the paper against xenophobia.

PROBLEMATIC ASPECTS OF THE GREEN PAPER: 

  • The asylum seeker application process
  • The Green Paper does not address the core role of the asylum processing system.
  • The Department of Home Affairs claims in this paper that many economic migrants are abusing the current system without engaging with reasons as to why economic migrants should not be granted asylum, especially when economic troubles are often linked to political instability and other problems.
  • Furthermore, the DHA provides no evidence of how asylum seekers abuse the system and yet it uses abuse as a reason for many of the new regulations.
  • The Green Paper also does very little to acknowledge current system failures from the Department in the process or to address the fact that  it will take years for asylum seekers to navigate the adjudication process due to the high backlogs .

Categorisation

The coalition notes with concern that the manner in which migrants seem to be categorised is largely reliant on the class position of the migrant. This means that, too much value is placed higher up on the scale of migrants- this becomes problematic when you consider who it is in particular that may be in need of greater assistance.

Suggestions from the coalition speak to the fact that the policy needs to explain how it won’t actually close the door on the people who need the protection of government. Under the current draft, the appearance of the legislation seems to protect the educated and financially capable migrant, and very few mechanisms are practically reachable by the non-mobile migrant- who may perhaps be requiring asylum. The situation is exacerbated by the possible time-frames for processing of applications and so forth. Which leads us to the next point.

Capacity Deficiency

The coalition notes this deficiency on 2 counts: that of the Department of Home Affairs, and that of the South African Border Control. This deficiency, whilst unfixed, perpetuates a situation in which many migrants are likely to remain undocumented due to the issues they may encounter when engaging the system itself.

At this rate, refugee social services is inundated with requests and generally cannot act quicker than it needs to. This means that when individuals are now inside the territory of the country, even keeping track of their movements becomes a logistical nightmare because they generally do not have adequate places of residence at the time at which their application is being processed.

When it comes to border patrol, even in the policy document itself, there are many averments to the inability of the state to ensure that there is secure passage of people in and out of the country. This is problematic on many levels, which includes the possibility of increased drug-trades and human-trafficking.

It is important the policy invests more time in spelling out how these gaps in capacity and personnel is likely to be fixed in the near future.

Integration of Migrant Communities

The coalition and member organisations were some of the first responders in the various cases of xenophobic violence in and around KwaZulu Natal, and so this issue cannot be closer to home. The struggle primarily, in the view of the discussants, is that migrant communities generally group together, either with family members or other individuals who are not natural citizens. Whilst this is human nature, it is problematic because it creates segmentations in already existing communities and the process of integration is that much more difficult.

It is important that there exists a multi-sector approach to integration of the migrant communities into ‘migrant-friendly’ communities as identified by the government and other stakeholders. The policy and manner of integration needs to be more pronounced however, as we cannot have a situation in which integration means ‘forced assimilation’ or is as lax as the placement of individuals. South Africa is not a homogenous country, so the diversity itself needs to form part of the positive measures of integration.

Ultimately, the coalition feels these are the steps that need to be undertaken in the reworking of the policy document:

  • Focus groups in each province with prominent civil society partners in the area and field of work. These focus group discussions need to be accompanied by other community engagements such as dialogues. Placement needs to be in areas most affected by xenophobic violence as well as areas in which large enough non-nationals may have been unaffected by violence so that there can hopefully be a clearer picture presented.
  • Engaging more with civil society organizations who were first responders to xenophobic violence.
  • Engaging with foreign nationals and the coalitions who are part of this field of work.

SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS IN PROCESSING

Making generalisations about asylum seekers’ legitimacy based on what country they come from is highly problematic because certain minority groups are persecuted in countries that could be defined as stable. The immigration paper should avoid such broad generalisations.

The Green Paper mentions and divides asylum seekers based on their potential skills. Determinations should not be based on the asylum seekers skills, but on persecution. The asylum seeker process is to protect persecuted people not identifying skills for the South African economy. While skills are important, it is not the purpose of the asylum seeker process.

The paper mentions the application and appeals process takes a while and has therefore became an attraction for many, however for many this tedious process puts a huge burden. The long waiting periods, short duration of permits, taking time off work, finding childcare, transport, and many visits for one renewal is something that the department should look into fixing because it will help both the government and asylum seekers. Legitimate asylum seekers should not be punished for system failures.

Asylum seekers and refugees experienced corruption at multiple stages of the asylum application process and the process for most is already longer than 180 days as stipulated in current legislature. The green Paper does not articulate how the current proposed solutions will address human rights violations in our asylum seeker and immigration system.

Many of the proposed policies for asylum seekers are unlikely to work given the history of capacity and implementation issues within the asylum system and due to the often onerous requirements placed on asylum seekers. A likely outcome is an increased number undocumented asylum seekers who will have international protection needs as well as increased vulnerability to criminality and labour exploitation in South Africa

INAPPROPRIATE SOLUTIONS TO CHALLENGES IN THE ASYLUM SEEKER SYSTEM

The solution the Green Paper proposes is that “Asylum Seeker Processing centers should be established closer to the borderline,” however the paper fails to clarify whether such Asylum Seeker Processing centers will in fact be more like Detention Centers or to mention how long people will be in these centers, especially since people can be in the system for years before they are approved as refugees.

The Green Paper’s policy recommendation to remove the right to work for asylum seekers further reinforces the idea that foreigners are stealing jobs.

The Green Paper recommends removing the right for asylum seekers to work and study, this will makes it difficult for asylum seekers to survive. The paper does not mention current individuals who are in the process of applying for asylum and are working and studying. Clarity about what will happen to these individuals is necessary.

The Green Paper also suggests that asylum seekers should be held in administrative detention centers. These centers will put a huge burden on the state and they conflate seeking asylum with criminality.  Furthermore, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights applies to ‘everyone’ in South Africa unless specifically mentioned. Asylum seekers therefore enjoy the same human rights as South African citizens to dignity, life, freedom and security, administrative justice, privacy, religion, freedom of movement, and access to information and courts. These detention centers are a direct contradiction of this.

The Green Paper indicates that asylum seekers will not be allowed to work nor integrate into local Communities. The Constitution guarantees the right to education to ‘everyone’, including foreign children, and the Green Paper has not elaborated on this aspect of the proposed detention model.

The Green Paper provides no information on how South Africa will afford building all these asylum seeker processing centers. There is no plan which indicates how it will meet the basic needs of thousands of people who will be trapped in limbo and denied basic human dignity which the right to work affords. Let alone health provisions and other basic human rights enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

INTERVENTIONS

The green paper proposes a number of ongoing interventions that are already applied to existing asylum seekers, refugees and even to foreigners living on work permits in South Africa. Such interventions include:

A marriage security clearance issued by DHA prior to solemnisation of marriages involving foreign nationals. These proposals are in clear violation of human rights and human dignity. These measures affect even marriages between asylum seekers themselves and/or refugees and work permit holders who want to get married in South Africa. The proposal is unconstitutional.

The proposal promotes othering and undermines government efforts for communities’ integration and social cohesion between refugees and their South African counterparts.

One of the negative legacies of apartheid that is enduring and tearing the family structure in the South African society is the high number of fathers who do not take care of their children. The socio-economic cost of fatherlessness to the country and to the black community in South Africa is unquantified and the need for positive parenting is ever pressing.

The proposal in the Green Paper seeks to regulate interpersonal relationships and does not take into account the fate and interests of children who are likely to be born from relationships between foreign nationals and South Africans. These children would be forever disadvantaged and deprived of a positive environment both parents would provide for their development. Children are denied their right to dignity and proper parental guidance.

Removal of a right to apply for PR on the grounds of years spent by a refugee in the country. The proposal is in violation of article 34 of the 1951 UN convention regarding the right of refugees to naturalisation. Furthermore, this proposal undermines integration of refugees and efforts for social cohesion since the grounds on which a refugee obtains PR are that he/she remains a refugee indefinitely. This provision is made to allow the refugee to integrate and live a normal life, in dignity. The proposal perpetuates the status of refugees for all descendants of refugees. Yet these children would grow up in communities together with South Africans and would know no other home except South Africa. The current law that links PR to naturalisation should remain and be applied.                                                               

COMMENTS AND CONCERNS 

  • Government must scrap the Refugee Amendment Bill immediately as you can’t have a ‘public consultation’ on international migration while at the same time trying to push through legislation. 
  • Home Affairs has failed to substantiate its claims that the reason 90% of asylum seeker applications are rejected is because of widespread abuse.
  • The Green Paper completely fails to acknowledge, discuss or propose solutions to the wide spread corruption, discrimination and lack of capacity in the processing of asylum seekers. The fact that the Musina Refugee Reception Office has a 0% grant rate for asylum seeker applications, is a clear indication that the system is in crisis.
  • The Green Paper does not outline how it will increase administrative capacity for asylum seeker processing, or ensure the systems core role, of protecting refugees and ensuring administrative justice is realised.
  • Home Affairs should not make broad generalisations about asylum seekers’ legitimacy based on what country they come from, and should not consider granting asylum based on an asylum seeker’s skills or financial situation.
  • The Green Paper fails to discuss, or propose solutions to systemic problems at Refugee Reception Offices (RRO), including very few asylum seekers getting into an RRO on their first visit, waiting on average over a year for a status determination interview, and less than half of asylum seekers receiving their section 22 permits the first time they visit a RRO. There are also long queues at these offices, where asylum seekers are threatened with extortion, violence and crime, as well as face health and sanitation issues.
  • The Green Paper doesn’t make proposals around how to ensure asylum seeker processing is done fairly, impartially and without unnecessary delays.  The current high level of rejections means that there is a very high number of appeals, creating a backlog with Refugee Appeal Board. There must be greater transparency and information about the application process, better training of Home Affairs interpreters and due notice to applicants given before interviews.
  • The Green paper also does not outline how Home Affairs will ensure that Refugee Status Determination Officers will make decisions based on clear reasons, relevant considerations and in line with the law.
  • The Department of Home Affairs MUST ensure administrative effectiveness does not come at the cost of administrative injustice, as per the promotion of the Administrative Justice Act.
  • It is disappointing the Green Paper does not propose more effective ways of relieving the administrative burden on the asylum seeker processing system, such as increasing the validity period of asylum permits, and ensuring that asylum seekers who move can renew their permits at their nearest RRO. At present there is overwhelming evidence that is extremely hard to renew at a different office and that inter-office file transfers don’t happen properly.
  • Home Affairs must also comply with court orders and immediately cease with fining people for expired permits. Instead they should give more notice of interviews, explain what interviews will cover in advance, ensure proper interview durations and allow asylum seekers to fully explain their claim.
  • Any discrimination and biases against asylum seekers cannot be tolerated, and this must be addressed.
  • It is disappointing that the Green Paper fails to even mention the overwhelming evidence that unfair decisions have been made on asylum seeker applications that violate both refugee law and the Constitution.
  • The Green Paper appears to be obsessed with alleged abuse and security threats, and fails to engage with our commitment to human rights, and the right to dignity.
  • If over half of asylum seekers surveyed have been in the system for over 180 days, then it’s clear the current system fails to fulfil the Regulations to the Refugee Act (No. 130, 1998). It’s disappointing that the Green Paper does not mention this, nor outlines how this will be addressed.
  • The Green Paper’s language is problematic, as it conflates migration with criminality. Research shows migrants are not more likely to engage in criminal actions, than the general South African population.
  • It is extremely disappointing that the Green Paper fails to engage with the above issues, and instead proposes a large infrastructure project to build Asylum Seeker Processing Centres on our borders as a solution.
  • The Green Paper fails to outline how these processing centres will not be de facto detention centres like Lindela where there have been well-documented human rights violations.
  • It is deeply disturbing that the Green Paper references ‘common international practice’ of processing centres used in Australia. Australia has been condemned by countries all over the world for its processing centres which are in fact detention centres where gross human rights violations take place.
  • It makes no sense to close Refugee Reception Offices and instead open processing centres. How is it that we don’t have money for computers to reopen the office in PE, but can build a new facility in Lebombo?
  • It is difficult to engage with the Green Paper when it does not outline the costs associated with processing centres nor how Home Affairs will meet the housing, food, water, sanitation, health and education needs of those held in Asylum Seeker Processing centres. This will surely be a huge cost to the state, meaning less money to deliver services to all in South Africa.
  • The Green Paper appears to suggest outsourcing South Africa’s responsibility to ensure the human dignity of asylum seekers to international organisations such as the UNHCR and the Red Cross.
  • There is a growing body of empirical evidence indicating that even short periods of time in detention facilities have long term negative impacts on mental and physical health. There is no evidence that detention practices have any deterrent effect on irregular migration. There is a growing international consensus that there is no justification for detaining children.
  • Home Affairs’ current immigration detention regime has a history of unlawful activity; one study analysed 90 unlawful detention cases (brought over a 23 month period) and found that the cases cost the Department at least R2.5 million in legal fees and R2.6 million in costs relating to those unlawful detentions. Further, as of March 2013 there were R503.3 million in pending legal claims against Immigration Affairs. These figures indicate systemic difficulties surrounding Home Affairs’ detention practices and call into question the Department’s ability to implement a detention regime that would meet human rights and administrative justice standards.
  • The Green Paper contradicts itself. Its policy recommendation is to remove the right to work for asylum seekers. One could only be pushing for such a policy change if some in Home Affairs agree with the idea that foreigners are ‘stealing’ jobs. But the Green Paper itself debunks this statement, stating that “South Africans make up over 90% of those employed in every sector”. The real issue, is not that foreigners are stealing jobs, but what the Green Paper rightly points out, that South African employers are breaking the law by wanting to pay the cheapest wage possible, and are pitting poor asylum seekers and migrants against poor South Africans, fuelling tension in poor communities.
  • The Green Paper acknowledges xenophobia, a word government has often avoided using. However, the definition of xenophobia in the Green Paper fails to acknowledge the frequent violent nature of xenophobia or the institutional xenophobia that denies non-nationals the right to basic education, health and other services in South Africa. Furthermore, misinformation and comments from public officials have fueled xenophobia, and that this must be addressed.
  • The Green Paper talks about push and pull factors in migration, but does not propose solutions, such as communicating information about applying for asylum to deter those who are not eligible, as well as trying to address the persecution that forces many to flee.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Establish Asylum Seeker Processing Centres (ASPCs) but only for those who will need to enter the country in the future.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the RRCs to cater for existing asylum seekers.
  • Provide legal immunity to asylum seekers whose permits are no longer active to encourage them to come forward to renew them.
  • If need be, distinguish between asylum seekers and economic migrants among the existing applicants, and enable them (in a way or another) to live legally in the country. This recommendation owes to the fact that due to corruption and other systemic failures, South Africa has tried (through Operation Fiela and the Lindela Repatriation Centre) to identify and deport all the undocumented immigrants. In addition, a blanket expulsion will not bode well with regional politics. Furthermore, while it can be costly or even impossible to arrange deportation in a humane manner, if illegal immigrants could possibly be apprehended in their numbers in spite of corruption in both the DHA and security apparatuses – keeping them in the country is more economically viable.
  • Do not strip the right to work and study from asylum seekers because government can’t cater for them. They have and can meet their own basic needs while contributing to the economy without government hand-outs.
  • Do not strip their right to marriage with whoever they want, as it is simply one of every person’s inalienable human rights and constitutional rights. If challenged in court, such measure to ban them from marriage could cost government a fortune. Fraudulent marriages do exist as a means to acquire immigration permits in the country. It is not a unique phenomenon in South Africa and should be discouraged. Government should not attempt to regulate relationships but through social workers follow the progress of relationships that declare intention to proceed to marriage, intercept any corruption and fraudulent activity but also encourage genuine marital unions to be formed and developed.

?     Better communication about information relating to applying for asylum to deter those who are not eligible and better training and security for DHA staff.

?     More efforts to address socio-economic and persecution that is causing people to flee.

?     It’s critical that asylum seeker processing is done properly.

?      Increase transparency and information about the asylum application process. Increase training of DHA interpreters.

?     There must be a greater oversight process. DHA must be held accountable for violations of the law. Increase capacity of the Refugee Appeal Board. Both greater administrative effectiveness and administrative justice in the asylum system.

?     Asylum seekers should be allowed to work and study within South Africa as well as access to basic social rights and they should also be allowed to integrate into communities once they have been awarded asylum seeker permits. Where a period of not more than one year should pass without the awarding of refugee status.

?     The third-country is mentioned in this document, however the DHA needs to clarify as to what extent it will be applied, especially since many of the countries that asylum seekers will pass through do not have well established judiciaries that can be trusted to protect the human rights and dignities of the individuals concerned.

CONCLUSION

The statistics supplied by DHA in the Green Paper reveal that in the past 22 years, South Africa has given refugee status to 115,000 individuals. That is roughly 5,200 refugees per year and this is quite a small number. The statistics also say that about 78,000 asylum applications are still active and that 980,000 applications are dormant. This points to an administrative problem and should be dealt with by acknowledging the lack of administrative capacity and by strengthening the RROs to process applications timely.

A new proposed legislation will not solve the problem but pushes it forward to burden future South African generations with the responsibility to address the situation which by then would have been intractable.