ASILE PROJECT ANNUAL MEETING REPORT

Representatives from Africa Unite attended the Annual ASILE Project meeting. This was organized by the University of Cape Town (UCT), Refugee Rights Unit and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) on the 25th of January 2023. The event took place at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. The main purpose of the meeting was to present an intervention by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as discuss the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) case at hand. In November 2021, Cabinet announced that it will no longer extend the validity of the ZEP. Initially the permit was to expire in December 2021, leaving almost all the 180,000 permit holders undocumented. However, advocacy groups intervened, and the government relented, granting a 12-month grace period until December 2022, which was again extended to the 30th of June, 2023. This was to give more time for people to apply to remain in South Africa on a critical skills permit, though very few ZEP holders meet the stringent critical skills criteria.

The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association (ZEPHA) first lodged a court action against Home Affairs in October of 2022. Advocate Simba Chitando filed the papers in the Gauteng High Court, requesting the government grant ZEP holder’s permanent residency. The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and the Zimbabwe Immigration Federation then initiated court action against Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, in a bid to overturn the decision in early June of 2022.  Other groups providing backing in the litigation include the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA), the Scalabrini Centre, and the UNHCR. Several Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders and representatives from different advocacy groups were also in attendance in the build-up to their case opposing the South African government’s decision to no longer extend the validity of the permit.

A keynote address was given by Ms. Monique Ekoko, the UNHCR Regional Representative (SADC) on Complementary Pathways to Refugee Protection. This was followed by a panel discussion dedicated to Temporary Protection for Refugees: The case of Zimbabwe.’ During the meeting, several ZEP holders spoke about how the government’s decision to withdraw the ZEP has affected them. Some people could not hold back their tears while sharing their stories.

Mr. James Chapman from the Scalabrini Centre, a civil society representative from Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa – the man who launched the strategic litigation to challenge the decision (taken by government to end the temporary protection) – was also in attendance. He re-assured all those affected by the Ministers decision that the Scalabrini Centre will do all they can to assist. Advocate David Simonsz – one of the Legal Practitioners challenging the decision taken by the government to end the temporary protection of Zimbabwean ZEP holders – also noted that for many of the people affected, “South Africa is the only country they know.”

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No to Xenophobia! Yes to Solidarity! 

Solidarity Walk

On the 2nd of December 2022 Human Rights Project Development Officer, Lelethu Nogwavu and interns Pascale Koczy and Jette Koch attended a Solidarity Walk themed “Creating cohesive communities”. The walk was a collective act of solidarity for all people in our neighborhood and city who call Cape Town home.  

The main purpose of the event was to retrace – and erase – the steps of the march and follow examples of community action in Philippi, Brixton (Jhb) and other neighborhoods.  The Walk was culminated in the handing-over of a Letter of Support and Solidarity to the Groote Schuur administration and expressed our gratitude for the incredible work of health care workers. This was a response to the demonstration of Operation Dudula on the 12th of November 2022. Dudula marched from the Mowbray taxi rank to Groote Schuur to hand over their demands to the hospital administration. They left fear, threats, and Xenophobia in their wake.

The Mowbray and Rosebank neighborhoods made it clear: Dudula and others who foment Xenophobia do not speak for us. Which is why a Solidarity Walk was held on the 2nd of December 2022. The solidarity walk will retrace and erase the steps of Dudula’s march. And in the process follow examples of community action in Philippi, Brixton (Jhb) and other neighborhoods. With the slogan “No to Xenophobia, Yes to Solidarity”. The demonstration took place to celebrate the neighborhood’s proud diversity, strengthen community cohesion, and combat all forms of xenophobia. The march ended with a delivery of a letter of support and solidarity to the Groote Schuur administration, expressing gratitude for the incredible work of the health staff. Several other organizations and concerned residents were part of the Solidarity Walk. In total, about 80 people participated and stood in Solidarity against Xenophobia.

Organized by the Mowbray and Rosebank Community Action Network (CAN), the march was supported and endorsed by the Scalabrini Centre in Cape Town, Sonke Gender Justice, Global South against Xenophobia, Congolese Civil Society in South Africa, Trust for Community Outreach and Education, St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Mowbray and Africa Unite, as a countermovement to the march.

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Young today, Leaders tomorrow

Leadership training 

On Friday, the 1st of December 2022, Africa Unite held a Leadership Workshop for the MAR’s Youth. At Bertha House, staff members Lidia Matabaro, Mira Modise and interns Jette and Pascale meet up with 15 young leaders from the MAR’s movement to talk about the complex dimensions of leadership and leadership styles. 

Through a survey, which the participants had to fill out independently beforehand, they could already find out how they would classify themselves. Well-developed styles, styles that need some further development or styles that need a lot further development.

The session started with refreshments and continued with feedback on the survey. Afterwards the young leaders got into their commissions to talk about everyone’s role within the movement. A game was played next, so that the MAR’s members got to know their personal leadership behaviour. One burning issue was the aspect of constructive criticism and how and if one can handle it. Further, leadership tips were given, and the youth had to compare it to their movement and how to apply those tips. At the end, handouts were distributed to ensure the new learnt keeps close to their minds. 

All in all, the workshop was positively received, and every member had the opportunity to learn more about themselves, their weaknesses and strengths regarding leadership and being part of a team and movement. It is good to keep working on oneself and we, as Africa Unite, are excited to see their progress in becoming the leaders the futures generations are in need for. 

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We say not o abuse – Your silence will not protect you. Act now!

A dialogue discussion about Gender-Based Violence and Abuse

On the 30th of November 2022, a dialogue discussion on the topic of Gender-Based Violence and child abuse was hosted at Europe Township. Guest speakers were members of SAPS in Gugulethu (Constable Homani and Sergeant Jokani), a member of the Gugulethu Community Policing Forum (Linda Kabeni), and Mam’ Noclaremont who is a leading member of the community committee in Europe township. 

The event was held as part of the 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against women and Children campaign. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and the violence against children is an annual international campaign that begins this year on November 25 and runs through December 10th. It is used by individuals and organizations around the world as an organizing strategy to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and children. Gender-based violence, especially sexual abuse is a disturbing and an escalating challenge in South Africa. It is reported that at least 10,818 cases of rape were recorded in the first three months of 2022 alone. Additionally, statistics show that one in five children is a victim of sexual abuse, and one in five women experienced physical violence by a partner.

Africa Unite used this time of the international campaign to join in effort raising We as Africa Unite want to use the 16 Days of Activism to raise awareness, educate and empower on this important issue. We want to spread the message “We say not o abuse – Your silence will not protect you. Act now!” in Europe Township. The event was planned together with the teenagers from Europe Township. Posters were made, life stories were shared and an short play on Gender Based Violence was performed.

The Guest speakers shared more knowledge on the topic and explained their roles in assisting community curb this violence. In total there were about 60 participants. The Africa Unite social worker (Zukelwa Dladla) who works in the area also shared her experience working with the children from the area. In her speech she condemned all forms of sexual violence against women and children and discouraged members of the community from laughing or belittling the impact of verbal sexual abuse on childrenVerbal sexual abuse is a type of abuse that encompasses the use of spoken or written words to express, evoke, or imply sexual content

It was also pointed out how important it is that all children or women who are victims of abuse and violence receive support and services to help them cope.

So, if you are a woman and you are being abused or you have been abused don’t be quiet. Stand and fight. Because if you keep quiet you will suffer inside.” – Oyama Ndamase 14-year-old girl from Europe Township.

A strong support system can give children hope and encouragement while they put the pieces of their lives back together again. In cases of abuse:

  • Find an adult you can trust and tell her/ him what happened
  • Tell your best friend so that he or she can support you
  • Contact a social worker
  • Contact your school principal
  • Report all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form of violence to a local police station 
  • or call the toll-free Crime Stop number: 086 00 10111.

“With these words I say stop Gender-Based Violence and child abuse!” –  Endinako Bikwe a 14-year-old girl from Europe Township.

To protect the children who are the future of the country we as Africa Unite also want to draw attention to our program Child abuse awareness. The Child Abuse Awareness program is offered to parents and children. It focuses on teaching both, children, and adults the different forms of prevention of abuse and neglect. For more information, please contact our social worker zukelwa@africaunite.org.za 

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Climate Change Literacy Among African Youth Requires Immediate Action

“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.” Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General – COP27 Summit, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Global development is seriously threatened by climate change, which also has a detrimental effect on people’s lives and means of subsistence. Studies show that for poor nations, whose socioeconomic standing hinges on powerful nations, climate change is not just a problem for food and nutrition security but also a problem for national security. It also presents other dangers like bad living conditions, lost revenue, a lack of irrigation and drinking water, decreased agricultural productivity, and ill health. Regarding climate change, Southern Africa is in the centre of the storm since it contains some of the world’s poorest and warmest nations. This is partially due to human activity, but the continent’s climate also leaves it quite vulnerable. 

Additionally, intensified heatwaves, droughts, and floods are already exceeding the tolerance thresholds of plants and animals, causing mass extinctions of species like coral and trees. These simultaneous weather extremes have cascade effects that are getting harder to control. They have caused severe food and water shortages for millions of people in Africa, Asia, Central, and South America, on small islands, and in the Arctic. The South African government recognizes that with this tendency, there are more risks of natural disasters and hazards such as floods, droughts, and sediment load because of climate change. To avoid further loss of life, biodiversity, and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action to adapt to climate change is required, as are rapid, deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. According to the new report, adaptation progress has been uneven, with increasing gaps between action taken and what is required to deal with rising risks. These disparities are greatest among lower-income groups. 

South Africa has experienced significant temperature shifts, extreme weather patterns, and damage because of global climate change. Human activities that have an impact on the environment have been the primary drivers of climate change. The advancement of industrialization has been accompanied by increased pollution and the release of large amounts of greenhouse gases. In the context of South Africa’s socio-economic development and threatened ecosystems, disastrous flooding in KwaZulu Natal in April 2022 was linked to the climate emergency, with over 400 people killed. This demonstrates the urgency of the situation in our country, as we can see and feel the consequences. Unfortunately, many still believe climate change will be a distant phenomenon. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that climate change projections for rising temperatures and extreme weather events are tied to future dates: 2030, 2050, or 2100. However, it is critical to recognize that we are already experiencing climate change and have done so for some time. Global temperatures have risen by about 1°C over the last century. Certain low-lying coastal communities are already feeling the effects of sea level rise. To summarize, the world is experiencing more frequent and intense extreme weather events. 

Despite the threats posed by climate change, climate change literacy is low in our society, with many people unaware of climate change and its anthropogenic causes. Uninformed mitigation and adaptation responses to build resilient communities contribute to this lack of awareness. As a result, citizens must become informed about the effects of climate change on the country and its biodiversity. As Africa Unite, we recognize that addressing this requires a profound shift in values and ways of thinking among governments as well as individuals, particularly young people. This is because young people are one of the most important target groups, as they are the generation whose lives will be affected by climate change the most than any other generation before them, and they will be responsible for dealing with the environmental, economic, and societal consequences of climate change. 

Even if the most ambitious temperature ceiling is met, adapting to a world that is warmer than today will be a massive undertaking. Climate change is causing millions of Africans to be uprooted or trapped in their current locations. Unfortunately, the world has yet to make progress in understanding what it takes to adapt to life on a warmer planet safely. We still lack the scale and urgency of collective and transformative action required to reduce greenhouse gases by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Climate change is a collective problem. These changes will exacerbate already existing inequalities and disrupt businesses in Africa. They will also jeopardize agricultural systems and decades of progress in health and education. Furthermore, the changes are expected to result in losses and damage to Africa’s unique heritage of exceptional and universal value. Climate change will have an increasing impact on those who move, stay, and communities that receive people on the move. The Africa Shifts report detailed the current realities of climate-forced migration and displacement in Africa. The report depicts potential scenarios for future population movements because of rising climate impacts. 

As a result, we urge all individuals, governments, and institutions to:

  • Open platforms focusing on climate change literacy as one of the strategies for raising awareness and encouraging communities to act against climate change. This is significant because, in many countries, a lack of proper recycling and disposal infrastructure means that waste – which contains a high percentage of plastic – is dumped, adding millions of tonnes to already massive waste volumes.
  • To educate and strengthen knowledge of basic science and climate change, so that people and organizations can make informed decisions and change our behaviour as part of climate change mitigation measures.
  • In terms of adaptation and mitigation activities, bilateral and multilateral agencies must align their climate change agenda with national development planning.
  • National ministries and departments must coordinate adaptation policies. For instance, Climate Resilient Debt Clauses or the African Climate Risk Facility must be implemented as part of overall adaptation strategies and measures to protectvulnerable groups from climate risks and impacts.
  • The government must ensure access to climate finance and make funds available for relevant climate change research led and disseminated at the national and local levels by African researchers.
  • Climate change mitigation institutions must be established in all African regions. These should provide the means for individual governments to train experts, facilitate technology transfer, and carry out mitigation projects.
  • National governments must invest more in research and educational institutions.

For more information, please contact: Lelethu Nogwavu, lelethu@africaunite.org.za, Human Rights Project Development Officer, 

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Infringement of the Human Rights of Hindus Rejected

As South Africa’s democratic dispensation dips closer to its third decade, there appears to be a growing, well-orchestrated, oppressive, neo-colonial, pro-conservative, anti-transformation, West -inspired and -funded agenda gathering momentum to silence and side-line the Diwali celebrations in South Africa. Many oppressed people volunteer to carry out the oppressor’s orders without being asked because of the domineering influence of coloniality or mental colonisation. 

At the outset, it should be understood that there is no Christmas without Christmas trees and crackers, without gift bags and wrapping, turkey and roast. No Eid without garments and headgear, without feasts consisting of flesh. And no Easter without chocolate and bunnies wrapped in (decorated) foil, without hot cross buns in tin trays. In the same way, there is no Diwali without lights and sounds, feasts, and festivities. These take several and varied shapes and forms among the individual sanatani (read Hindu affiliate), depending on their philosophy, practices, and school of thought as it relates to Sanatana Dharma (read Hinduism).

The growing movement calling for a “green Diwali” – a Diwali in the absence of fireworks and flesh – is rejected in the strongest of terms. Hindus will not be told by others how to celebrate Diwali; to do this is to offend their ability to practice their way of life. 

Diwali foods: In the majority of Hindu homes, the lights and sounds of Diwali include the lighting of clay lamps and fireworks. Festivities, including specific attire, special prayer, and worship, song, and dance, are matched by feasts, special treats, and meals. In some Hindu homes, these food items are without flesh – or they are vegetarian, vegan, and the like – and in others, these contain flesh.  The lodestar guiding the ingredients and contents of eatables in Hinduism is without any specific or direct scriptural prescription or injunction imposing what should be included or eaten. Food ingredients, foods consumed, and the manner of fasting are dependent solely on the Hindu school of thought, practice, or philosophy.

‘Green Diwali’: Ironically, Diwali’s lights have always been “green.” This dates back to time immemorial and should not be misconstrued as appropriating today’s climate change cult.  During Diwali, the lamps lit include clay lamps, which can be filled with ghee (vegetable or butter), sunflower, castor, thill, or other naturally derived oils, and a wick that is made of cotton wool or a similar natural material. In the case of lighting candles for Diwali, candles are made of wax and also of a wick. For Diwali, or any Hindu festival for that matter, every item and utensil used in the prayer and worship is environmentally friendly, derived from nature, natural, organic, recyclable, or reusable. Thus, Hinduism has always been ‘green.’ This authentic, original, and genuine notion of ‘green Hinduism’ stems back to its origin as the oldest religion in the world. It is not a new knee-jerk reaction bowing to the current climate cult. Diwali is not absent from sound or celebrated in solitude. Sounds of music and song, laughter and happiness, colour, chatter, and chimes, of fellowship, friendship, and fireworks fill the Diwali atmosphere. 

Diwali sounds: As fireworks are set off for certain big soccer matches, at the opening and closing ceremonies of certain major sports events and the Olympics, for New Year’s Eve, and so on, so fireworks are set off for the annual celebration of Diwali, in line with bylaws and state regulations. The focus of the celebrations of tradition and culture, under the South African Constitution, must be the meeting point of the rivers of consciousness, freedom, and diversity.  Religious festivals and other celebrations regularly feature the use of fireworks. They are commonly employed to mark important occasions all throughout the world. The display of fireworks, which incorporates both light and sound elements, has evolved over time into an indispensable, integral, and inseparable component of Diwali festivities around the world.  There is no requirement for any religious precept or scriptural sanction for the use of fireworks during Diwali. Hinduism permits freedom of expression when it comes to thinking about and connecting with the Divine. Hindus have a constitutional right to use fireworks during Diwali because they have such great religious and cultural significance and are ingrained in the celebrations that define Diwali.  The use of fireworks is inextricably interwoven into Diwali celebrations. There are no fireworks without Diwali. There is no Diwali without fireworks. Fireworks are synonymous with Diwali celebrations. Therefore, the use of fireworks during Diwali is central and cardinal for Diwali celebrants. “Obligatory and voluntary practices qualify for protection under the South African Constitution.” The Constitution puts forward that: “Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community, to enjoy their culture and practice their religion.” The Constitutional Court is convinced that: “The display of religion and culture in public is not a ‘parade of horribles’ but a pageant of diversity which will enrich our country.” Is it these larger-than-life fireworks that go on to enrage a minority in South Africa? Does the grandeur of fireworks used by Hindus during Diwali, lighting up the entire sky for all to see and hear, pose a threat to destabilising the institution of paleness, which light-toned names come up year after year spewing hate speech synonymous with some of their kind? 

Diwali hate: In 2020 alone, the following surnames allegedly posted religious and/or racist rants on Facebook against Hindus for celebrating Diwali with fireworks: 

  • K-L Bate, “To whoever is blowing off fireworks…I truly pray one lights up your face and ass.”
  • C Calderwood, “So fed up with F@#king inconsiderate people… it’s the festival of light not fireworks.”
  • E-M Nienaber, “It’s the freaking fireworks, I feel like sticking them up their asses really…”
  • K Buckley, “Inconsiderate bastards!”
  • M Carey, “These idiots have no respect for themselves…”
  • T-L A’Bear, “Hearts of stone…”
  • F Robinson, “…piece of shit race that shows how stupid and childish they are that get excited by bright lights and big bangs. Pathetic.”
  • R Barendse “Diwali, the disgraceful religion of cruelty and shame.”
  • D Steyn (on WhatsApp), “Simple, take your so-called fireworks and fuck off you selfless humans.”

Is all this hate against the backdrop of how a religious minority, less than 1% of the South African population, can celebrate with such glee, greatness, and grandeur? It becomes necessary to adopt the view of Ziyad Motala: “We have emerged from vicious intolerance and seek to transcend the divisions, aspiring towards a rainbow nation that maintains and celebrates pluralism… (where) our triumphs inform and instruct all that human dignity, equality and tolerance is a great centripetal force in fostering nation-building.”

Nelson Mandela made it a point that: “Never, never and never again, shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another, and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”

A minority of certain unpigmented South Africans who hold economic power and are seemingly unpatriotic unless it suits their interests should reflect on the words of Chief Justice Langa, “Our society which values dignity, equality, and freedom must therefore require people to act positively to accommodate diversity.” According to the Constitution, South Africans must respect and appropriately accept diversity.

To this end, one is reminded of the words of David Letsoalo: “Those who hold economic power are in a good position to influence or dictate the social, political, economic, and, importantly, the cultural agenda of the country. These include the education, spiritual, and language considerations.”

Without apology, the reality that South Africa supports freedom while apartheid is still very much in force is abhorred; therefore, one is drawn to reiterating Pixley ka Isaka Seme’s words in his 1906 Regeneration of Africa address at the Columbia University in the US, where he said that: “I am an African, and I set my pride in my race over a hostile public opinion.”

In the same manner as the inauguration of a president is marked by gun salutes and flyover airplane displays. In the same manner, King Shaka Day is celebrated on the 24th of September with shisa nyama, song, dress, and dance. In the same manner, the AmaZulu King’s traditional coronation is marked by slaughtering animals and the roaring rattle of amabutho. In the same manner, the arrival anniversary after 14 years of exile of the famed and acclaimed Hindu King Lord Rama from the forest to His palace, as well as the pious prayer day dedicated to the Hindu Goddess of Prosperity and Abundance, Maha Lakshmi, both celebrated as Diwali with fantastic feasts and fireworks, will not have its greatness bow to greenness, rather, it will remain a golden celebration.

Vedhan Singh is a first-generation Africa Unite Human Rights Peer Educator and graduate of both the inaugural Human Rights for Social Cohesion and Community Conflict Mediation Programme in KwaZulu-Natal. Views expressed are his own and not necessarily of Africa Unite. 

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Hope-based Narratives Workshop

United Nations Human High Commissioner for Human Rights

On the 27th of October 2022our Human Rights Project Development Officer– Lelethu Nogwavu attended the Hope Based narrative Workshop. This was hosted by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) as a joint program with UN partners aimed at strengthening migrant integration and social cohesion through stakeholders’ engagement, socio-economic activities, and countering anti-migrant narratives in South Africa (Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF). Under the auspices of the Migration MPTF joint program the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights hosted a half-day pilot training session (one in Cape Town) on the topic of hope- and values-based narratives in the context of migration. The workshop objectives were aligned with the priorities in South Africa’s National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

During the sessions, several issues were discussed, including: 

  • The importance of narratives, and particularly hope-based narratives, in promoting and protecting the human rights of migrants. 
  • How this work intersects with countering racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, including other forms of discrimination against migrants, as well as the links to South Africa’s National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. 
  • How to apply the tools from the OHCHR Toolbox to reframe harmful narratives on migrants and migration to create stories built on a shared value of human rights. 
  • How to identify messaging or imagery to avoid. 
  • How to apply the tools from the OHCHR Toolbox to develop a hope-based narrative/story, either individually or collaboratively, that can be pitched to a media outlet or run on the participants respective organization’s social media channels. 
  • How to define and further develop avenues for creating hope- and values-based stories in South Africa, develop participatory, localized, and targeted media campaign strategies on migration and human rights, and grow a Community of Practice focused on hope-based narratives. 

During the event, AU partnered with Scalabrini and other organizations to come up with a presentation on the abovementioned topics. The organizations also discussed how they can work together as a coalition to bring about effective solutions and hope based ways of communications. Lelethu Nogwavu and some of the group members presented this at the event to other civil society organizations and stakeholders present. 

The Workshop was a good opportunity to engage everyone present and to gain usable skills, and further develop and publicise hope-based narratives in the context of migration and human rights. 

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Do’s and Don’ts 

Engagement with Immigrant traders in Mitchell’s Plain

On the 26th of October Africa Unite hosted in partnership, with the City of Cape Town and various stakeholders a workshop on the Do’s and Don’ts of trading targeting immigrant business owners in the community of Mitchell’s Plain also including the landlords, where most of the businesses are operating. This was to raise awareness among Immigrants who are often arrested for violating laws and by-laws. 

This engagement follows a similar event held in July, in which Immigrant traders shared specific challenges they faced. During the event, official representatives from The Department of Home Affairs, Municipal and Environmental Health Services, Law Enforcement, the South African Police Services, the City of Cape Town, and Africa Unite made presentations. Each presentation was based on their services provided to community members. Furthermore, during the workshop the following traders were present: Somalian, Pakistanis, Bangladesh, Congolese and Malawian. 

They were provided with information on how to comply with health and safety regulations, from well-illuminated and ventilated premises, pest proofing, and the handling, transporting, and storing of foods etc. The Department of Home Affairs explained the reasons Immigrants need to be documented. The South African Police Services also explained more about the issue of safety, the legal trading hours and how to report any threat of crime again immigrant traders. Furthermore, each department provided their contact details for further engagement or challenges.

In conclusion, the dialogue revealed that as communities, government officials and civil society we still have more milestones to undergo toward the achievement of the harmony and peace among each other. But, most importantly, participants acknowledged that we need to constantly do these orientations. 

  • All participants agreed that these types of orientations are useful, and organizers need to extend them to other areas and townships. 
  • It was also proposed that Uber drivers in Mitchell’s Plain should also be invited to the next workshop as they are often targeted by taxi drivers in the area. 
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Time is Now: Act for Peace, Climate & Justice—Memorandum to the National Assembly of South Africa

On 23 September 2022, Africa Unite handed over its Memorandum to the South African Parliament in an effort to convince them that a better implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is necessary in order to maintain peace, protect the planet, and end poverty. The outlined Memorandum can be found below.

Dear Madame Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Speaker of the South African Parliament),

In 2015 world leaders signed historic agreements – the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and the broader 2030 Agenda to push for a more just and sustainable world by 2030. These inter-linked agendas promised to transform the world, end poverty, reduce inequality, ensure peace and combat climate change; to set us on a path towards a just transition for our economy, society, and environment. So far, the delivery has failed to live up to this bold ambition.

Progress on the 2030 agenda is under threat. In 2022, the world is not working for most people and our planet. Human rights are being ignored and millions of people are being left behind, while a few become ever richer and more powerful.

The war in Ukraine, together with other ongoing conflicts, has led to a massive increase in the number of people facing acute food insecurity, with rising food prices making life even harder for billions of people.

At the same time, climate change presents a long-term threat to our shared home on this Earth, with temperatures continuing to rise and extreme weather events devastating communities at the frontlines as we recently witnessed in the April Durban floods which took more than 400 lives.

The Covid-19 pandemic pushed humanity’s resilience to the limit and continues to have vast impacts on the lives of people and the wider social, economic and environmental fabric of our world. Hundreds of millions of people lost their jobs and income and were pushed into poverty.

These events have shone a glaring light on the persistent and underlying injustices and inequalities in our societies.

We need to transform a system that is no longer fit for purpose, flip the script and re-imagine our planet as our shared home, respecting the rights of all people and the natural world.

The recovery must leave no one behind… there is still time to deliver sustainable development within the Decade of Action… if leaders in each country act for Peace, Climate & Justice.

Will you take action?

1.         Safety & Peace

Now is the time to step back from armed conflicts, militarism must be reduced around the world:

The war in Ukraine comes in a human context where armed conflict, violence in all its forms, authoritarianism, corruption and indiscriminate repression affect the lives of millions of people around the globe and violates the human rights of people – young and old – in countries around the world. All lives affected by conflict are of equal value. Wars and conflicts are one of the major factors leading to increasing poverty in the world.

Here home in South Africa, Protection fees in Townships have become serious. This started slowly with migrants being asked monthly money in order to be protected and has now become common in the rest of South Africa. The current situation has extended to neighbouring farm areas such as Grabouw in the Western Cape Province etc. The gangs’ business is booming, and we are.

very concerned that these gangs are now recruiting more young people to sustain their businesses. In areas such as Philippi East, Khayelitsha, and Gugulethu in the Western Cape, the gangs are forcing people to go to bed by 6 pm as it will be their time to start operating. Currently, the situation is more than critical as everyone in the Cape Flats and the rest of the country is living in fear.

2.         Climate

South Africa has not made much progress with regard to SDG13 on climate action and the reduction of carbon emissions. South Africa’s reliance on fossil fuels will continue for the foreseeable future. The country is not on track in terms of its National Determined Contribution and is planning to build new coal plants. Furthermore, the government continues to issue licenses for oil and gas exploration. Both in policy and practice, the country is not moving in the direction of delivering on Climate Action by 2030.

Deliver on your Paris Agreement goal to limit mean global temperature rise to 1.5C.

  • Protect the ecosystems on which all life depends by strengthening your commitment to international environmental law and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.
  • South Africa needs to urgently shift away from its reliance on fossil fuels and its economic dependency on extractive industries such as mining. Moving towards renewable energy will help the country to meet our NDC targets.
  • Review the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, stop the planned building of new coal-fired power plants and reconsider gas as a transition source of primary energy.
  • Review the “Operation Phakisa” Oceans Economy initiative, particularly the oil.
  • and gas exploration licenses, and ensure community engagement.
  • Ensure better coordination between national, provincial and local government levels on climate action and the production of renewable energy.

3.         Social Justice

Are you ready to build a more equitable future? Poverty and inequality are once again on the rise in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many countries same as in South Africa, people are being pushed back into increasingly fragile situations, with the critical gaps in healthcare and loss of livelihoods being compounded by the lack of sufficient support from governments and international partners.

  • We further call on you to ensure universal social protection for all including the provision of free universal healthcare to ensure everyone in South Africa has access to free, public, high-quality healthcare across their life course.
  • South Africa is still the most unequal country in the world with race playing a determining factor in a society where 10% of the population owns more than 80% of the wealth.
  • Recovery must take place at micro and local levels. People should be supported to build back their lives and livelihoods. Solutions should tackle inequalities and focus on opening up economic opportunities, factors beyond the market that focus on social reproduction, mostly being the burden of women in communities.

4.         Gender Based Violence (GBV)

We call for a gender-responsive approach to post-Covid-19 reconstruction and recovery.

  • We note that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormously disproportional impact on women, who have lost their income and livelihoods and have been subjected to increased incidences of GBV.
  • The South African government should place a gender lens over its Covid-19 recovery plans, as well as be informed by gender and sex-disaggregated data when considering robust investments and social policy and safety nets.
  • Gender budgeting should take into consideration the differential impact of the pandemic and the fact that black women in the informal sector are excluded from the economic stimulus.
  • We must align our work with the National Development Plan (NDP) and Agenda 2030 and develop indicators on how we can measure gender-responsive mechanisms.
  • There should be a multi-stakeholder approach that allows all stakeholders to contribute to gender equality and the elimination of GBV. For example, instead of hosting a women’s/men’s parliament, we should be advocating for a gender parliament that will engage all stakeholders.
  • The cabinet must be called upon to pass and adopt the national action plan on GBV, as well as domesticate the African Charter.
  • GBV responders, particularly in rural areas, should have access to adequate resources and funding so that they are able to effectively respond to victims of violence.
  • We should find sustainable solutions to address GBV in communities by enacting effective policies on economic empowerment for women and vulnerable groups so that there is a long-term downstream effect. An example would be the use of urban development as a way to create cities that are safe for women and curb GBV.
  • Enable collaboration amongst all citizens should be enabled in order to address the issue of GBV.
  • Intersectionality should be avoided by having a gender parliament that recognises all gender formulations and acts as a voice of reason to parliament. Its work should be linked to the development goals and Agenda 2063 in terms of having a people-driven Africa.
  • The SDG framework indicators should be used to measure the well-being of women. Gender disaggregated data should be adopted to assess the implications of recovery policies and plans for women and address them accordingly.
  • There should be gender programmes that cater to all sectors of society, including young boys.

5.         Economic Justice

This is the moment to agree on a just recovery for all. We call for an end to austerity and instead a major economic stimulus package that radically reduces inequality, and gender inequalities and lays the foundations for a just, equal and sustainable economy.

  • Keep your promises to finance a more just and sustainable future with clear commitments to 0.7% of GDP for development cooperation including at least $50 billion/year for health and social protection
  • Deliver extensive debt cancellations and create a sovereign debt workout mechanism at the UN; increase access to capital for low and middle-income countries by reallocating new Special Drawing Rights.
  • Ensure everyone contributes by taxing companies and individuals fairly with progressive tax systems and ending illicit financial flows and tax evasion.
  • Intensify the demand for local products and manufacturing to create more domestic jobs and encourage local entrepreneurship.
  • Amend Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act,14 which governs the process of retrenchment due to operational requirements, to compel companies to negotiate rather than consult with unions to arrive at a collective agreement
  • Strengthen bargaining councils, even with employees that are not members of trade unions, to secure better agreements between employers and employees.
  • Target financial support to reach those who most need it, by prioritising funds for women, disadvantaged minorities, young people, persons with disabilities, older persons, migrants and other most affected groups.
  • Increase the cost of retrenchment by increasing severance pay to ensure that companies only retrench as a last resort and not as a first preference.

6.         SDGs Implementation

  • We welcome the government’s plan for institutionalising the National development stakeholder forum (NDSF) as part of the SDG coordination mechanism. The aim is to establish a body that would provide better coordination for the implementation and tracking of progress on the SDGs and overall development objectives in South Africa.
  • We call on the government to fast-track the establishment of the NDSF to catalyse the delivery of the SDGs. We are with the view that the institutionalisation of the NDSF will facilitate South Africa reaping its full benefits for the achievement of the SDGs in the country. The institutionalisation is made even more urgent as we move towards the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process in 2023/2024 where the views of both state and non-state actors will have to be carefully considered.
  • The NDSF should be anchored by SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals): ‘Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development’, which the UN sees as a crucial means to deliver all the SDGs (UN DESA 2015: 10); specifically targets 17.16 and 17.17 are aimed at improving and promoting MSPs.
  • It should serve as a national platform for dialogue and collaborative action for state and non-state actors, including the private sector, civil society, and academia, on the implementation of the SDGs, Agenda 2063 and the Southern African Development Community Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (SADC-RISDP) by mobilising and sharing knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources.
  • It should be guided by principles of citizen-centredness, inclusivity, reflective learning and active participation, and sustained action towards socio-economic transformation. It should empower and strengthen the agency of local communities and amplify grassroots voices.
  • The government should provide an enabling environment where the advice of the NDSF is heard and equal partnerships and contributions are permitted, as well as institutionalised interactions between the government and the NDSF. The NDSF requires a strong formal institutional but independent structure, where the government is involved but not leading the structure.
  • Since the SDGs reflect the needs and aspirations of the people and Parliamentarians are the ones best placed to hold the executive accountable; As efforts are being put together to put in place a coordination mechanism for the SDGs, it is important to ensure that the Parliament play their rightful role in giving political impetus towards localising, implementing, and monitoring progress on the SDGs. Legislatures are essential actors in the roles of parliamentarians in ensuring political buy-in, financing and accountability to the SDGs.

It is therefore incumbent on us the Civil Society and youth organisations to raise this issue with you as a matter of great seriousness. We hope that your attention to this matter will be highly appreciated.

Respectfully yours,

Contact:

  • Miss Lelethu Nogwavu – E-mail: lelethu@africaunite.org.za

Human Rights Project Development Officer. LLB (UWC), LLM (UCT), PhD Candidate (UCT).

Project Community Partners:

Ward 39 Councillor Mjuza

Residents from NY57, NY89 and NY91

University of Cape Town – APG Urban Design

Africa Unite NPO

Movement for Change and Social Justice (MCSJ) NPO

Bazart NPO

Atlantic Seaboard & Gugulethu Community Action Network (CAN)

Community Police Forum (CPF)

Gugulethu Urban Farming Initiative (GUFI)

Nobantu Primary School

African Monitor Trust (AM)

South Africa CSOs Working Group on SDGs

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What is Human Right in your language?

Basic Human Right workshop for Church leaders

On the 1st of October 2022, Africa Unite hosted a workshop for 12 Pastors and leaders from different church organizations. The workshop was organized to capacitate church leaders on the basic Human Rights for Immigrant so that they can give advice correctly to their congregation members when they need assistance on Immigrant laws. On the same day, Africa Unite Invited an Attorney who has experience in the legal work of Immigrant as well as the home affairs system. All this was coordinated by the Africa Unite 3 Africa unite staff members. 

Pastors and church leaders were capacitated in the basic Human Rights of Immigrant. This section looked at the different types of Immigrants in South Africa (Asylum seekers, Refugees, emigrant, and immigrant) and all their rights. As well as learning what is Human Rights in the languages spoken by the different church leaders, this exercise demonstrated that Human Right is everywhere and in every language. On the same day, church leaders had the opportunity to ask Questions concerning documentation or any issues that required legal aid assistance (Advice) or how to go about applying for documentation.

Below are some questions that were raised from the session on Saturday’s workshop:

  • What do you do when a child is born here but both Parents are illegal (have no valid documentation)?
  • What do you do when a child is born of a South African Mother and a foreign father (vice versa)?
  • Various legal issues related to ZEP’s (Zimbabwean Exemption Permits) were also discussed. What to do when the permits expire in June? And what are the other options for Zimbabwean nationals?

    At the end of the workshop, church leaders had a greater understanding of South African immigration law and human rights in general. Strengthening of the relationship between AU and the Christian community in Cape Town and building networks and unity within the different immigrant churches.

    Lastly, participants had a positive view of the workshop. They enjoyed learning the rights of Immigrant (they realized that it is easy to say you know what Human Rights are but not understand). They also appreciated the question and answer session facilitated by the attorney. The session was crucial and the facilitator was practical when answering the question by giving everyday cases and solutions in simple English. Thus, the workshop has strengthened the relationship between the pastors, the different church organizations, and the relationship with AU.

    CHALLENGES/SUCCESSES OF THE WORKSHOP

    Challenge

    Timeliness- workshop started a bit late, and some participants had to leave early.

    Success

    The attorney we brought in was very experienced, knowledgeable, and helpful. He helped communicate the specific legal issues that many immigrants to South Africa face. And the church leaders were able to grasp and learn the Immigrant Rights.

    RECOMMENDATIONS

    Invite immigrants from different backgrounds to the next workshop. This would expand AU’s influence and improve our relationship with the local community. And have more time for question and answer session.  

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