Gender Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo

On 21 March 2018, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Africa Unite commemorated Human Rights Day by hosting a Gender Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo at Phillipi Village in Phillipi, Cape Town. The Imbizo sought to create an enabling platform for a broad spectrum of thought-leaders, activists and other key decision-makers to critically engage the pressing question of gender based violence from a human rights perspective.

In her opening remarks, Lezerine Mashaba, moderator of the Imbizo highlighted the historical link between Human Rights Day in South Africa and the events of 21 March 1960. On that momentous day 69 people died and 180 were wounded in Sharpeville and Langa respectively when apartheid police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the pass laws. “It is important for us to reflect on the lessons of the Sharpeville Massarce in our quest to address modern day human rights challenges. On 21 March 1960, ordinary people rose in unison to proclaim their rights”, she said.

Miss Mashaba added that “21 March has become an iconic date in our country’s history that we commemorate as Human Rights Day as a reminder of our rights and the cost paid for our treasured human rights.

Delegates representing various organisations including the Department of Health, the International Peace Youth Group, SWEAT, Overberg Development, Khayelitsha Peace Building Team, JUST Choice and the Phillipi Brotherhood Project participated in an array of activities and discussions aimed at deepening their understanding of gender-based violence as it relates to human rights.

As part of the proceedings, participants were challenged to explore the root causes of gender-based violence, unpack the effects of gender-based violence on society and reflect on the changes necessary for the creation of more gender just communities.

Facilitators Lezerine Mashaba and Eleanor du Plooy creatively employed a tree analogy to create an interactive and engaging environment for critical discussions.  Drawing from the tree analogy, participants identified roots of gender-based violence as unequal power relations between men and women, patriarchy, culture and religion among other things. Furthermore, participants maintained that these identified roots naturally lead to gender injustice, inequality and ultimately gender-based violence.

Though gender and women’s empowerment issues are gaining currency within the South African development context, gender, sexual and reproductive rights are still regarded as taboo, too sensitive and emotive to warrant attention by the broader society. It is within the above-noted context that organisers of the Imbizo sought to stimulate dialogue on Gender Based Violence and Human Rights, with a particular focus on the rights of the most vulnerable in society including women, children and the LGBTIQA+ community.

Representatives of SWEAT, an organisation at the coalface of sex worker advocacy, human rights and mobilisation in Africa, shared with the plenary their experiences as human rights activists and lamented the criminalisation of sex work in South Africa.  “Criminalisation of sex work infringes upon a sex worker’s rights to equality, privacy, human dignity and bodily integrity as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.” argued Pam Ntshakula.

Commenting during a plenary session, activist and writer Zilungile Zimela emphatically stated that “Just as communities worked collaboratively to advance the human rights of the LGBTIQA+ community in post-apartheid South Africa; we have a moral obligation to contribute towards the struggle for the recognition of rights of the most vulnerable in society including sexual and reproductive rights. We must as a matter of principle, learn, unlearn and relearn that which makes us human in order to contribute meaningfully towards the course for the transformation of society for the public good.”

Hasina Subedar from the Department of Health urged delegates to work together to address the challenge of sexual and gender-based violence. She mentioned that the Department of Health is committed to increasing access to health, educational and other services to improve the lives of adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. “Through the She Conquers Campaign, we are partnering with communities to empower girls to take charge of destiny to become the women they want to be”.

The Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo concluded with attendees recommitting themselves to working, together with communities, more effectively toward the advancement of a more gender just society and for the rights of the most vulnerable in society.


A! Gender Based Violence Imbizo

On 24th August; ACTIVATE! Change Drivers in conjunction with Africa Unite and the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation will convene the A! Gender Based Violence Imbizo aimed at engaging the views of social activists, thought-leaders, experts and practitioners within the sexual health and gender rights sector on effective community-based interventions to address the challenge of gender-based violence in South Africa.

Furthermore, the Imbizo will endeavour to explore opportunities for multi-sector collaborations aimed at addressing the stated challenge of gender based violence.

The South African constitution guarantees equality for women and the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the right to freedom from violence, and access to socio-economic rights such as housing, land, health and fair labour practices. Notwithstanding, the reality that South Africa has some of the most progressive legislation in the whole of Africa; the country continues to experience horrendous gender-based crimes.

While it is commonly accepted that men generally constitute the majority of perpetrators of violence against women, the LGBTQIA+ commonly, men are also victims of violence as experienced within communities across South Africa. While little has been documented regarding men on men violence in South Africa, men are also affected by violence given that the country is generally characterised by high levels of crime and violence.

The various stakeholders expected to contribute to the conversation include the Commission on Gender Equality, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries, Gender Works, the Khayelitsha Peacebuilding Team and STEPS, to name a few.

The month of August marks National Women’s Month in South Africa and essentially sets out to commemorate the 20 000 brave women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956  protesting the apartheid pass laws being extended to black women. Moreover, Women’s Month endeavors to draw attention to the challenges facing women in society in general, including the pressing challenge of gender-based violence.

In light of the above-stated, it would be correct to argue that there is a dire need for communities across South Africa to be empowered to contribute towards enhancing effective community based responses to the challenge of gender based violence.

The A! Gender Based Violence Imbizo will be coordinated under the following arrangements:

Date: 24 August 2017

Venue: Africa Unite

6 Spin Street

Cape Town

Join the conversation and share your perspectives and views on how various sectors of society including government, the private sector, civic society and communities across South Africa can all work towards finding solutions to the challenge of gender based violence.


Notes to the editor:

ACTIVATE! is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa. Connecting youth who have the skills, sense of self and spark to address tough challenges and initiate innovative and creative solutions that can reshape our society.


For more information on the A! Imbizo:

Events Co-ordinator : Rammolotsi Sothoane

Call: 082 8781 263

Email: rammolotsis@localhost


Facebook : Activate Change Drivers

Twitter : @ActivateZA

Instagram: activate_za

For media related queries, please contact:


Zilungile Athenjwa Zimela

Cell: 078 255 3378


Women of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network will tomorrow pay homage to the Women’s March of 1956 where more than 20 000 women of all races and backgrounds came together to march against the injustices that women faced. Today, women of South Africa face terrifying reality of violence linked to various reasons that are also connected to their gender.

The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network has dedicated itself to conduct robust discussions that question and challenge why such injustices continue to this day. Through dialogues of this nature we hope to host honest inter-generational discussions to understand what role women play in contributing to a patriarchal society and to gender-based violence.

At the heart and back-end of the dialogues is the insatiable desire to celebrate women who go unrecognised yet are working every day to rebuild South Africa from the roots up. The dialogue will see the attendees signing a pledge that denotes the ongoing commitment to continue the discussions and sisterhood support circles in communities to provide safe spaces where women of all ages can empower themselves so that they can reach their best potential.

The main aim of the event is to ensure that women do not grow weary of their everyday work of being nurturers, leaders and strong pillars of support.


When: 25 August 2017

Where: Constitutional Hill

Time: 10am-15:00


For more information on the event contact:

Event Coordinator: Bongi Ndlovu – 079 270 3536

Project Manager: Tebogo Supping –  076 622 8564

Notes to the editor:


ACTIVATE! is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa. Connecting youth who have the skills, sense of self and spark to address tough challenges and initiate innovative and creative solutions that can reshape our society.


For media related queries, please contact:

Communications/ P.R:

Zilungile Athenjwa Zimela

078 255 3378



On social media:

Twitter: @ActivateZA

Facebook: ACTIVATE! Change Drivers


Instagram: Activate_za


How can South Africa’s young people find innovative tools for not just every day challenges, social transformation in a country that’s going through a phase of transition?

This was the question asked of a group of more than 20 Activators as they gathered at Athlone’s YMCA this past Saturday, using every day scenarios as case studies and within a set time coming up with novel solutions.

Despite Eskom’s loadshedding schedule affecting the audio visual component of the Exchange, participants remained enthusiastic.

Facilitators Ashley Roman and Gray Macguire ensured that the participants were well briefed and those time limits on discussions were strictly adhered to.

Five different groups of Activators were tasked with going through newspapers, placed on their tables and choosing one case study where they could apply innovative tools to bring about social transformation in not just a particular community but universally.

Before any discussion could start, group members introduced themselves to one another. At the table where this reporter was seated, Dumisa Thetiwe spoke about a project he had started in the Eastern Cape and the difficulties he had encountered.

Cathy Achilles, who was celebrating her birthday, along with Keith Knoop, Wande Madikane and Lizerine Mashaba made up the rest of the group.

Mashaba who used crowdfunding to build an orphanage in Khayelitsha encouraged Thethiwe who was struggling with funding his project.

Madikane, who works for the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation says it starts recruiting students in Grade 6, and followed through with them, checking on their academic performance right through high school.

“The application process is quite lengthy…academic (performance) plays a role but we’re looking for students who are thinking, we want to know their thought processes and whether they’ve got potential (to go further),” said Madikane.

So stringent was the selection criteria, Madikane says only 100 of the over 4000 applicants are accepted into the programme each year.

“And through the application process we can assess students. We’re looking at whether they are active in their communities, whether they play sports. Successful applicants have to be active in the programme, you can’t be receiving funds and then just chill,” says Madikane.

He says their monitoring was quite effective, and that between 70 to 80% of those participating in the programme for high school students would eventually be part of the tertiary programme.

Madikane says the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation programme in high schools was specifically targeting disadvantaged youngsters.

After the participants at the table had introduced themselves, Roman started the conversation by stressing the importance of innovative ideas.

After a short adjournment for tea, and a music interlude, participants picked up the newspapers on their tables, identifying a challenging issue they thought could use some innovative solutions.

Going through the People’s Post community newspaper, the group narrowed down two subjects. Expanded Public Works Programme workers in Manenberg complaining over their remuneration, and residents in an Athlone complaining that CCTV cameras, erected to fight crime, were instead an intrusive nuisance and invaded their privacy. Eventually the group settled on the former subject by means of a vote.

After deliberating for over 20 minutes, the groups presented their solutions to the packed YMCA hall.

Group 1: Chose to tackle the issue of housing developments which was isolated from economic opportunities. They argued that decentralized economic activities had to be encouraged by the authorities to spur developments in communities.

Group 2: They tackled the issue of how communities could deal with child abuse in their midst. And their solution was quite innovative, using safe houses within the communities which were colour-coded. This meant that children who suffered one or the other form of abuse could seek support within their communities by going to homes where they would receive the most appropriate assistance.

Group 3: EPWP workers in Manenberg had complained that they were short-changed when it came to their wages by contractors. Although this had been happening for months, the workers only started complaining towards the end of the year as the contractors were preparing to shut down for the holidays. The solution that the group came up with was the workers needed to participate more actively in the planning and implementation of EPWP projects in their communities.

Group 4: Tried to find a solution for teachers who were complaining about the selection, and competence of exam markers. Amongst the complaints from teachers were that these markers lacked an understanding of South Africa’s education system. The group suggested that teachers had to be part of the decision-making process on the appointment of markers. They also argued that there had to be a measure of transparency by the Department of Education, so that their decisions could be digested and decoded by teachers.

Group 5: Looked at the issues of grant beneficiaries, especially pensioners who were being targeted by crooks, fleecing them of their social grants. Their solution was to empower youngsters, who often lived with their grandparents to help them and ward off crooks. This would be done by using role-playing to educate grant beneficiaries, and through this using “fresh innovative ideas” on how the whole process worked.

Group 5’s ideas on using role-play were chosen by the audience as the best innovative tool in combating a real problem.

Roman said afterwards: “These are not just ideas but ideas that can bring social change. We should be using networks to have meaningful connections with each other”.


Whilst ACTIVATE! Exchanges got underway in Cape Town and Klerksdorp, Port Elizabeth had its first ACTIVATE! Exchange at the B&E Conference centre on Saturday the 29 November.  Janice Jobson was the presenter of the event. She is a Social Activist who has been involved in various organisations such as Amnesty International; she also spearheads the ACTIVATE Programme.

The quarterly ACTIVATE! Exchange opens a dialogue for young people from all walks of life to discuss Government, Social Responsibility and other pressing issues. One thing that ACTIVATE regularly highlights is the need to change attitudes and rethink post-Apartheid South Africa. One topic that emerges regularly is Citizenship.

ACTIVATE connects attendees with insightful leaders of varying ages. Participants are able to interact with these leaders in a relaxed atmosphere as well as having the platform to share pressing ideas and opinions with leaders around the table.

Participants and panel members sat together at tables before leaders addressed the panel. Panel leaders selected challenges from their respective fields that they felt needed to be highlighted, within their groups. The groups were presented with object cards and had to link their cards to the challenges they face.

The focus for the day was Innovation.  Groups came up with innovative ways to tackle pressing issues. Issues such as Land Reform, Social Responsibility and Education stood out.

Ngaba Mpofu, @NqabaMpofu, tweeted “Necessity is the mother of invention, and innovation is key to overcoming many of society’s problems. #ActivateExchange

Luyolo Nqakula, a Social Activist/Entrepreneur and one of the panel members, raised the hot topic of Land Reform. Nqakula said Land Reform is an uncomfortable conversation for some that needs to happen.   Nqakula’s statements got the crowd talking.

Then Janice Jobson responded to Nqakula’s comments:

“I think this is a question and an issue that we really have to get to grips with now. For a very long time land-reform has been a notion that everyone generally agreed to but we haven’t dug down- into.  I think that’s the critical, crux for our generation- Can we translate theory into practice? What would it mean to revitalize the Agricultural sector? What would it mean to shift ownership in a way that everyone thrives? “

Lizalise Mngcele, a Statistics and Economics student at NMMU, was also on the panel at the ACTIVATE! Exchange. He offered innovative ideas and a captivating speech. He told everyone of an Information Communications Technology (ICT) project where ICT developers were brought into a township to offer residents the tools to generate mobile applications. He pointed out that this collaboration was mutually beneficial to the developers and the residents, because without the residents, the IT developers would not have had access to application ideas that truly affect the people.

A probing question asked by Prince Charles, a panel member and a sociology student at NMMU:   “Does it benefit the poor? – and if it does not benefit the poor it is not innovation!” His statements resonated with panel members and the participants and also inspired a few tweets.

Lenina Rassool-Louw, @Nina_210, echoed: “If it doesn’t benefit the poor or change the lives of those around us, then it is not innovation.” #ActivateExchange

Nqaba Mpofu ‏@NqabaMpofu  tweeted: “Speak out against authority, be respectful, take responsibility and ask questions” Glenton de Kok #ActivateExchange

Glenton de Kock, a panel member and the Project manager for Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber offered a refreshing take on what the role of citizens in South Africa is.  Through his experience working in the Civil Society Coalition in Port Elizabeth, De Kock states that we should reinterpret our role in governance. “If you make a cross you have a right to tell a counsellor they are not doing their job.” He encouraged citizens to bring forward complaints to Ward Councillors and Municipal Managers.  In turn those officials should be willing to accept criticism and not view themselves as being above reproach.

Ethu Ncanywa, a bubbly and bright NMMU student who attended the event said the most exciting part for her was “How we could all figure out cohesively as group-innovative ideas. Another exciting thing was networking with other people and being surrounded by different people who come from different backgrounds.”

Sesethu Gqomo, the Faculty Marketing Officer at the Engineering Department at NMMU, was on the panel. Gqomo has a strong focus on personal growth and an interest in motivating people. Gqomo said “Activate gave me the skills and tools that I have never learnt in any classroom. They are applicable to young people across all Faculties in any field. Joining the network is one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.”

The fact that participants get to interact with these successful and influential leaders makes it a day well spent and the Activate programme, a programme worth doing for anyone who is interested in changing the scope of our country.

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On Twitter: @ActivateZA

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By Tina Smith


ACTIVATE! hosted its second Exchange dialogue on 23 August with over 400 Activators and stakeholders gathering simultaneously in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Mpumalanga to hold discussions around Identity and Leadership.

The ACTIVATE! Exchange is a quarterly discussion forum with the aim of drawing together young people and thought leaders from civil society as well as government and business to explore ways in which positive social change may be brought about in South Africa.

The theme for this Exchange was Identity and Leadership and the over-arching topic looked at re-imagining who we are in order to build a more inclusive society. The atmosphere at each Exchange was electric as everyone reflected on their individual, national and global identities and what it means to be a good leader in our communities and society.  

“Do South Africans need a common identity?”, “How do we define our identity and accept other forms of identity different from our own” and “How can we find a new identity between ourselves and others” were questions that kicked off group discussions.

“We need to acknowledge those things that happened to us so [that] we are able to move forward,” was one of the comments that emerged from group discussions at the Cape Town Exchange hosted at the Malibongwe Restaurant in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. “We acknowledge our history and Apartheid, but we also need to create our own history,” was another.

And while thoughts and opinions flew back and forth at the various venues, social media was abuzz with comments as those who could not physically attend the Exchange added their voices to the national conversation.

Comments emerging from both physical and virtual platforms included:


  • “We can have the constitution on paper, but what happens on the ground is vastly different to what is written there.”
  • “Ideologies shape our views and this leads to a certain identity and fear.”
  • “I need to know myself and find how I can identify with my neighbour. I am not Pedi, Tsonga or Zimbabwean. I am human. What I must ask is what am I doing that will be remembered in my country.”
  • “We need to stop differentiating on race, gender, culture. This creates prejudice. We need to see each other as human. That will create an inclusive society.”
  • “Urbanisation is important. It facilitates us to connect with those different from us.”
  • “Young people relate more to things they see on TV than in their own background because of good life, money and comfort.”
  • “History is how you tell the time that you are in. How do we separate Identity and history?”
  • “Let us be aware of the words we speak because they move us to act.”
  • “It’s not about me, it’s about us. This way we will rise above divisions.”


After group discussions,the rooms once again combined as thought leaders from around the country presented their thoughts and expanded on what had already been discussed.

Cape Town panellist and Activator Cathy Achilles’ comments on how – on an international level – weare all family were welcomed and celebrated by the audience in Cape Town.

 “I might look white but my father is Zulu. I might be black but my father is white. Why are we classified as ‘other’ if we are all family,” she said. “If you think of Xenophobia and then our history, our descendents are from all over Africa, so we are attacking our own family,” she added.

In KwaZulu Natal, Panellist Abigail Crawford, CEO of Ukukhanya Development Trust presented herself as an example of the changes that South Africa’s identity is heading toward.

“Right now I am the minority, but 20 years from now I’ll be part of the majority from mixed marriages.” She also urged youth leaders to advocate and promote self-acceptance, tolerance and diversity. “Understanding who we are is key to understanding others,” she said.

KZN Panellist Dr FikileNdlovu, General Manager of HIV/AIDS at the Office of the Premier in KZN, shared her belief that young leaders need to carry their identities with pride and not look down on themselves. If they do this, she cautioned, they may lose some of the values that prove essential to good leadership.

In Limpopo, Panellist VusiTshabalala, Motivational Speaker and Environmental Educator, said that tribalism in the business sector – Vendas employ Vendas and Pedis employ Pedis – discriminates against other cultures and destroys the one identity we must all strive for: African!

At the end of the dialogue, positive feedback was representative of not only the amazing reflections that came out of the dialogue but the success of the event. “These dialogues are setting the foundation for driving change in South Africa,” tweeted @iseLu_M.

Activator Anele Celewho attended the Limpopo Exchange said that she found the event meaningful, relative and relevant. “It showed me that in leadership and in the world, we live with people with different identities and different backgrounds and that it’s important to know how to deal with conflicts that arise peacefully so we can achieve greater things by simply understanding that we are all human no matter our ethical differences.”

In Cape Town, Director of Namutebi and Associates and co-curator of The Story Club, Philippa Kabali-Kagwa,rounded off the day with the following thoughts:

“We live in the most diverse continent in the world. We have desert, rain, snow, sand. It is the only continent in the world that has all of that.The many languages and cultures we have in Africa mirror this diversity. We look at these differences as if it’s the problem but it is this diversity that makes us beautiful and is our greatest opportunity.”

5 cities, one topic, one conversation: May Exchange

Saturday, 31 May 2014 has become quite a special day on the ACTIVATE! calendar to date. For the first time, we managed to host three ACTIVATE! Exchanges on one day, in three cities. Activators in Mpumalanga and the Free State added their voice to the #ActivateExchange conversation at their own events.

The topic of discussion, public accountability, is at the heart of making sure what our obligations are as citizens, particularly as young leaders contributing to change in various spheres. The Exchanges brought together young people, civil society, business and government leaders in one room discussing how this topic affects them and what they can practically do to contribute meaningfully towards public accountability. Ashley Roman, ACTIVATE! trainer, summarises this very well when he says, ‘new ways have to be found in which communities engaged with government, and hold them accountable.’

The main questions framing the dialogue were: “How can young South Africans hold public representatives accountable to secure effective governance and build a better South Africa? “ and “What can be done to support these young people?”.

 The sentiment across the conversations in the different cities was, It is not just a citizens’ right to interact with the correct channels in government to ensure we are respected as contributors to the future of our county, and to know how to hold government accountable, but an undisputable obligation. The guests also reflected on the context of using the vote as a means of taking responsibility and making votes count by keeping track of government performance, our own contributions as means of claiming our obligation and being proactive.

More than 1345 posts were generated on Twitter and Facebook across the different cities. This platform has proven to be quite powerful as a means of  expanding the reach of conversations.

These Exchanges provide more than just dialogue, they are an opportunity for young South Africans to connect with thought leaders. Activators are encouraged to arrange their own Exchanges to bring these thought-provoking conversations right into their communities.

Reflections from the various Exchanges can be read here:

The ACTIVATE! team is also ready gearing up for the next Exchange which will be taking place on 23 August 2014 on the topic of Identity and Leadership. 

How can young people bring about meaning change in their communities?

This was the topic for discussion as hundreds of young people, across South Africa took part in a dialogue hosted by ACTIVATE! as means of cultivating an active citizenry after South Africa’s fifth elections.

Those who could not attend any of the sessions hosted in South Africa’s three major cities – Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, participated in the conversation through twitter posts which were aggregated using simple hashtags: #ActivateExchange. 

In Cape Town, more than 100 young citizens were hosted at the Newlands Cricket Stadium, not for a game of cricket, but to discuss and debate the ways in which citizens could become more active, and hold those in power to account. 

Ashley Roman, one of the facilitators of the Cape Town event, said the dialogue also sought to broaden the array of tools for those already working in their communities.

“These young people are already doing amazing work in their communities, they’re running their own projects. What we want to do is to broaden the platform for engagement, what are the possible tools, discussions, mechanisms and new knowledge that we can hold and infuse into our work when we go back our communities,” said Roman.

The dialogue was also seeking to steer these communities away from violent “service delivery” protests which they often used to air their grievances.

Roman said new ways had to be found in which communities engaged with government, and held them accountable.

Section27’s Thoko Madonko said although South Africa had very progressive laws, whose constitution was hailed across the world, spaces for public dialogue were still being closed down.

“We’re one of the world leaders, we have very progressive laws but we have poor implementation. Part of that implementation is a challenge, it’s a struggle,” said Madonko.

She said community activists had to up their game in the face authorities which operated in a secretive manner to hide wrongdoing.

“Many organisations and social movements are beginning to see that you have to shift, you have to play the game differently. The opponents are changing, Marikana was a huge game-changer,” said Madonko.

She said mineworkers in the Platinum Belt, through a protracted strike had taken ownership of their space.

Madonko said injuries, inflicted upon communities by unresponsive corporates and government authorities, were happening in very subtle and often difficult ways to articulate.

These injuries came in the way of which communities received resources like bus rapid transit systems and the ways in which their public schools were funded.

Former Cape Town International Convention Centre chief executive Rashid Toefy said the role of business in public accountability was to understand that ultimately it was good for them to be ethical.

“We must encourage young people to do what they’re passionate about, and that’s how they will become activists,” said Toefy.

But in the same breath, he said institutions like the Public Protector, and public accounts committees were often abused by losing bidders to settle scores.

Under his leadership, he said he had promoted ethical practise within the CTICC by encouraging a culture of whistleblowing.

“If you see something, report it. [But] you can’t start ethics in a cold way, inform [your staff] of what you are about,” said Toefy.

Activator Dean Jates who launched peace garden initiative in his community of Bonteheuwel called on religious organisations to become more involved in their communities, outside of the spiritual realm.

ACTIVATE! Exchange: Cape Town

Imagine what would happen if everyone worked together?
What are the game changers that will put the country on a trajectory to success?
How do we heal our woundedness as a nation?
What does it look like to show up for change?
What is the ideal South African identity?

Asking the right questions that will allow South Africa to unleash its full potential, was the central theme that youth leaders and stakeholders from the private,public and non-governmental sectors grappled with at the ACTIVATE! Exchange, the discussion forum of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, a youth leadership network, at the District Six Museum in Cape Town on 08 October 2013.

“We think we’re no longer in a state of war just because there aren’t bullets flying everyday but we are in a state of war – a state of psychological war – in which my identity has been disposed. We have to spend time making the correct diagnosis otherwise we will continue to sweep up the water while the tap remains on,” said Tumi Jonas, currently completing an Honours degree in Psychology at the University of Cape Town as well as the founder and secretary of ONE PATH AFRICA, a global peer-to-peer leadership network.

As a second-year Activator, Jonas is one of the growing body of young leaders that form the ACTIVATE! network that was founded in 2012 to identify and equip a critical mass of entrepreneurial and socially-aware young leaders between the ages of 20 – 30 with the skills and support that will enable them to become the change-makers needed to secure the country’s future success.

A core challenge to all South Africans, and the youth in particular, will be to face the issues of our wounded society with honesty so that we can reach an understanding of the structural reasons for marginalisation and then begin to build an inclusive identity based on a sense of solidarity, belonging and purpose, rather than on race or class, said David Harrison, the Chief Executive Officer of the DG Murray Trust and former director national HIV prevention programme, loveLife. 

“The ACTIVATE! Exchange affords us a platform to table the critical issues and to kick start a process to formulate strategies and touch points to address these collectively,” says Christ Meintjes, Chief Executive Officer of Activate! 

“Facing some of these issues may be challenging and even painful –  the idea of our collective woundedness and sense of feeling small in the face of each other, for example became a key discussion point yesterday in response to the question of  “why are we not standing up”  –  but it did equally allow us start formulating positive responses, and in this case, to  conclude that there is a potential for power in the vulnerability of woundedness because it opens up the ability to connect.” 

Among the speakers at the Cape Town ACTIVATE! Exchange were: 

David Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of the DG Murray Trust, who founded the Health Systems Trust, a non-government organization supporting health services development in South Africa and headed up LoveLife, a national HIV prevention programme for young people before joining DGMT. He also started the South African Health Review of Health and Health Care in South Africa, which is published every year. 

Zamandlovu Ndlovu, communications specialist with the National Planning Commission (NPC) responsible for the external communication of the NPC’s work and the National Development Plan’s progress. She is a patron for the Citizen ZA movement and an honorary member of the Golden Keys Society. 

Miranda Simrie, Director at KS & Partners Management Consulting who has worked in economic and social development, SMME support, and enterprise development for more than 10 years. She has been credited for conceptualizing and developing the 2012 Cape Town Entrepreneurship Week and has been recognized for her role as Principal Researcher and co-author of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2011 South African report.

Zikhona Tumi Jonas, a second-year Activator, psychology honours student as well as founder and secretary of ONE PATH AFRICA global peer-to-peer leadership network.

Akhona Mbenyana, a second- year Activator with extensive experience in the field of sustainability and environmental education, training and development. He has worked for SANCCOB, Omni HR Consulting, and has volunteered for organizations like Greenpeace Africa and Climate Action Partnership (CAP). 

Cindy-Lee Cloete, a second-year Activator and Environmental Education Director at Nature’s Valley Trusthas a National Diploma in Nature Conservation from Cape Peninsula University of Technology and a passion for Environmental Education.

Activator Story: Lejweleputswa Exchange

First year Activators Action and Themba are organising an Exchange in the Lejweleputswa District in the Free State. The theme for the Exchange is “Crime: A destroyer of young generational legacy”. They explain further why they decided to hold an Exchange.

The Odendaalsrus (Kutloanong) community, which is part of the Lejweleputsa district, has been ravaged by criminal activities, which has not only negatively affected the lives of residents in Kutloanong but it has also created fear in the community. Crime statistics obtained from the local police station indicates that young people are either the perpetrators or the victims of crime.

We believe that some of the  contributing factors to this problem are the lack of role models and people who can motivate the youth. We believe that this is not a helpless situation. The youth, who are part of us as society and community members, can be assisted.

We intend to invite and mobilise people to participate as both mentors and advisors to assist in enforcing the change of attitude and behaviour amongst our young people.

Date: 6 September 2013
Time: 9am to 1 pm
Venue: Kutlwanong Communicaty Hall

For more details you can email Action Setakal and Themba Vryman on

Activate! Exchange – Johannesburg

Activate!Exchange Media Release 11 June 2013

Youth Leaders Take Up the Challenges Facing South Africa with launch of Activate!Exchange in Johannesburg

“We must re-ignite the spirit of 1976 and again stand united as one to make the change our country needs at this time.”This was the rallying cry across the board as young leaders from developmental NGO, Activate!Change Drivers and stakeholders from public, private and other non-governmental sectors, collectively renewed their commitment to confronting South Africa’s challenges at the launch of the first Activate!Exchange in Johannesburg at the Women’s Goal at Constitution Hill today (11 June 2013).

Representing some of the 800 young social entrepreneurs and projects that are currently being supported by the national network, the Activators used this forum held in the run up to Youth Day on 16 June, to highlight the issues facing young South Africans, including the fact that 70% of the unemployed are under the age of 34 as quoted by President Jacob Zuma recently.

Participating in the event’s panel discussion on the role that business can play in supporting young people to bring about social change, Ben Kodisang, Managing Director of financial services group, Stanlib made an appeal to the business sector to find innovative ways contribute to improving South Africa’s education performance. 

“We know that more than sixty percent of the unemployed do not have matric. Stanlib has therefore focused its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) single-mindedly behind education. Our programmes include subsidising university graduates that can offer supplementary Mathematics and English teaching in schools where this is required and where, as a result of the intervention, we’ve seen a marked improvement.”

Over the past 18 months, the company has also rolled out a financial literacy programme that to date has reached more than 30 000 learners from 200 of some of the most previously disadvantaged schools across the country.

 Activator, Calvin Makhubela, participating in the same discussion, endorsed the idea of business finding innovative ways in which to participate in skills and knowledge transfer to young people, including the importance of mentorships.Bernice Hlagala, Head of Youth in The President’s Office, reiterated that government understands that the success of its youth development interventions lies in working with other sectors and volunteers.

The Presidency is taking great responsibility for youth development which has led to the establishment of the Presidential Youth Working Group (PYWG) – a multi sector forum that will afford the President an opportunity to interact with the relevant stakeholders in the youth development space. 

Hlagala said that the PYWG has identified increase economic participation, education and skills development, the professionalization of youth service providers, substance abuse and violence prevention and a national youth service as its critical focus areas.
According to Activate! Chief Executive Officer, Chris Meintjes,  Activate is a network of young leaders known as Activators, who are all actively involved with projects to drive positive change at grass roots level across South Africa. “The distinguishing feature of all these Activators is their ability to mobilise and to engineer innovative and positive transformation in their communities and the country as a whole.”

Activate! systematically supports and builds the entrepreneurial capacity of these Activators through a three-year process. “Activate! Exchange came about through the necessity to establish connections through a working platform for on-going dialogue, and discussion between Change Drivers who have ideas and initiatives and thought leaders who have experience.  By meshing these two together we can provide the right fertile ground that will contribute to the network and its initiatives to grow and flourish,” he concluded 

Applications for acceptance into the 2014 Activate! in-take will open in July 2013. For more information about Activate! And Activate! Exchange go to www. 

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Man Up Durban Exchange

The exchange was held in Durban on the 6th of April 2013. The award-winning human rights activist Jimmie Briggs spoke to the Activators about his Man Up Campaign.  Activator Nkosinathi attended the exchange and he wrote this review about it.

The rising number of gender based violence was the talk of the day. The young men were brought together to look at where does it all begin and where can young men address the issues of gender based violence. A statement that came through during the event was that, a young man is likely to see abuse happen to a female close to them in their life time. The Activators at the breakfast meeting agreed with this statement and also mentioned that as young men we have to rise and address the issues of abuse and violence against the opposite sex.

This led to a discussion around emotions and men being able to express them. The Activators started to question the statement “men are not supposed to cry”. We felt that this is led men to have anger within them and in return they become violent toward the opposite sex. The final word on this was that as men we need to learn to express our emotions.

Jimmie Briggs facilitated a discussion that got young men talking about what standards we have set as men in the communities and what measures have we used to define a man. This shed light on the issue of mentorship; men helping each other better themselves and their community. The idea behind mentorship is to help create a masculine identity that is not solely based on wealth status. 

Briggs highlighted that networking will assist young men to address the issues of gender based violence and also that until we address it at the individual level, i.e. how it affects our family first and then deal with the community; by doing so we can then be able to drive change within the country and to the world at larger. One lesson that was learnt was that we have to do something as young men to change the increase of gender based violence act, we need men to stand up and MAN UP and say it shall not happen with me and when around, I shall blow a whistle on gender based violence.

Young men need to remember that “A Man who sees far does greater”

Activate! Exchange – Durban

Last week the Activate!Exchange was launched in Durban, the first in a series of events that discuss what young people are doing to create change and what can be done to support them. We would like to widen activator’s networks of opportunities and create awareness around what they are doing. The panellists were Lynette Ntuli, Sesethu Sidzama, Andrew Layman, Mthobisi Mkhize, Darlene Menzies, Debbie Heustice, Malusi Mazibuko and Nqaba Mpofu. The next Exchange will be held in June in Johannesburg.