On the 12th of July 2017 Africa Unite partnered with the community of Hermanus (10 km away from Cape Town) and conducted a community dialogue at Zwelihle Hall (kwa Meneer). The purpose was to create a peaceful and progressive platform to allow community members to engage with, and develop recommendations to some of their daily challenges. The dialogue came as a follow up to two earlier sessions, which were a water and sanitation clean-up campaign, and gender based violence awareness session. The discussion was attended by leaders from different community structures, with the majority of them being youth leaders. Two local councillors, Mr. Macotha of Ward 12 and Mrs Pungu Pungu of Ward 5, were also present.
To start the dialogue, Cllr. Pungu Pungu welcomed everyone, spoke briefly about how she got in contact with Africa Unite, and expressed her hope that the dialogue would yield fruitful recommendations. Africa Unite’s facilitator then opened the floor for the community to raise some of their challenges and share some success stories. Below are the issues which were raised:
- Young people with registered businesses complained about the processes used by government institutions such as National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and SEDA, saying that they are not easily accessible to assist needy youth
- Inadequate space for small and medium enterprises to operate their businesses in the area
- There are limited facilities to train young people for them to acquire necessary skills that can make them easily employable or for them to launch their own businesses
- Inequality is prominent, as an extremely rich area that is close to an extremely poor area
- Some youth do not have identity documents and have to pay huge amounts of transport fee to access the nearby offices
- Lack of important service providers offices such as SASSA, SARS, and Home Affairs
- Lack of information about existing education, employment and business opportunities
- Youth chose to spend time in taverns as they have a lot of talent, but there is little support provided for them to succeed with their abilities
- Some NGO’s go there and speak about assisting the community, but vanish and never come back
Councillor Macotha also made a lengthy contribution where he raised the following concerns:
- Lack of a reading culture, making it difficult for youth to get some of the opportunities available
- Most parents fail to support and involve themselves in the lives of their children and they do not see education as an important tool of success
- He complained of many young people are lazy and lack motivation, but want to get somewhere without putting in any effort
He also mentioned that he liked the dialogue because it also gave the audience the space to speak about some of the successes and opportunities of community which he identified as follows:
- The Economic Development office is assisting people to register their businesses
- The Department of Home Affairs might be established soon in the area to help people with their identity documents, but there are still negotiations taking place
- Rural Development is rolling out plans for a youth centre, and engagements with Overstrand Municipality are already taking place.
The facilitator then challenged the audience to come up with recommendations that could be implemented to address these problems. The following strategies were raised:
- Small businesses must make use of existing facilities to mobilise resources for their businesses.
- The community needs to make use of LED and SETA.
- The community needs to take part in programmes not because they are called by certain people, but because of the value they add in their lives and the people surrounding them
- Big companies around Hermanus need to sponsor and hand out bursaries to deserving learners
- Organisations and businesses should also focus on nurturing natural talents, and sport should be taken seriously
- All participants agreed that they should not wait, but act now and take initiative.
- More community dialogues of this nature should be conducted in the community in order to get the voices of different people, even those who are extremely marginalised.
In order to ignite a youth movement and embrace a culture of active citizenship, it was agreed that Africa Unite will train a group of 20 – 30 youth from various townships surrounding Hermanus as human rights peer educators. They will be tasked to run human rights awareness sessions and campaigns in their respective communities, as well as lobby various stakeholders to promote accountability, and improve the lives of young people and the community at large.
To reiterate the dialogue, Cllr. Pungu Pungu thanked everyone who participated, and mentioned that her office was eager to assist in the implementation of the recommendations made. After the dialogue, the Africa Unite team was invited for lunch by one of our former peer educators living in the area. We are proud to announce that he has manged to open his own Youth Café, which is a one-stop hub where young people across the social divide can come together and access services, opportunities, and support provided by the public and private sectors.
Africa Unite is now busy organizing a human rights training camp for the young people in the area.