KwaZulu-Natal Africa Unite School Club excel’s at Annual Leadership camp.

On the weekend of the 2nd to 4th of August, Africa Unite hosted their Africa Unite School Leadership camp for the school club in KwaZulu-Natal. The camp took place at Vuleka Trust Centre in Hillcrest, Pine Town.

During the weekend, we hosted our club members from Ikusasalentsha High School (Inanda), Kwadinabakubo High School (Molweni-Pinetown) and Lamontville High School (Lamontville) in KwaZulu Natal. Our school clubs are based in communities which are plagued by poverty, gangsterism, high rate of teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, lack of proper schooling infrastructure and poor basic service delivery; from textbooks delivery to water and electricity. These factors create an overall low academic work performance.

Africa Unite brought our young leaders together at Vuleka Trust Centre in Hillcrest Pinetown with a staff that ensured a successful training by providing a conducive and comfortable learning environment. The purpose of the camp was to provide a space for the youth to sit and engage with the issues which they are battling with at school and in their surrounding communities. They were also capacitated to understand their roles and responsibilities as cabinet members and parliamentarians of their respective clubs. After the training, the learners were tasked to come up with solutions to eradicate the social issues they are facing.

Africa Unite Facilitator welcoming the learners.

Moreover, the students hosted were those with passion to drive change at high school level, engage with the content that is geared towards problem solving, expand their knowledge of Africa Unite as well as Africa Unite School Club and to expand their Leadership skills. The aim is to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge so as to create change in their respective schools and communities.

Additionally, the camp exposed the learners to innovation, design thinking and how to apply action as a social change driver.

The training was facilitated and co-facilitated by a team that was active in their respective communities, who gave great insight, a combination of both expertise and lived experiences, who gracefully commanded respect and interactions from the students       

One the first day, the participants were warmly welcomed by Zenani and Hlengiwe from Vuleka Trust Centre, who offered great service and assured the participants of having a great stay at the centre.  

The training geared off in a showstopper of an ice breaker for driving critical thinking and emphasized the importance of participants to make effective use of listening as a skill to interpret the given instructions also provoking cognitive development.

Africa Unite Facilitator engages with the learners on Social Emotional Learning

After leaving the participants breathless with an interactive ice breaker, there was a dialogue pivoting around how we can shift our perspectives. Participants were then paired and asked to introduce themselves to the person they were paired with. They shared what they like about themselves, what they don’t like and what they believe people think of them. Following this, participants went back in the circle, where at random participants were asked to share what they know about the person being paired with.

Moreover, the learners were educated on the origins of Africa Unite and the School Club, so they could understand the work in which the organisation is focused on and the School Club program in greater detail. Following this, the learners broke into groups and worked on their problem tree, where the learners identified the hotspots they have in their schooling environment. The presidents of each clubs shared this with the rest of the learners and thereafter, day one was wrapped up.

Day two kicked started with a workout 6am in the morning for the learners to feel energised and get ready for the day. The official proceedings of the day began at 9am where the learners were showed a presentation on Good Leadership. The presentation outlined leadership characteristics and different leadership styles (democratic, autocratic, strategic etc). The learners were highly engaged during this, with the learners understanding that within their cabinet positions in the school club, they are of the same value as the cabinet members within the South African Government. When asked of what they understood about leadership after the presentation ,their responses were given as positively approaching problems, influencing others while knowing when and how to follow, considering doing things differently, and nurturing effective working relationships, contribute to a spirit of team work and cooperation and making appropriate decisions even under pressure. This activity tapped into understanding the different leadership styles; being autocratic-making decisions without consulting others. Following this, to further expand their understanding of the structure of the school club, the learners played a game called guess who. Participants were given the opportunity to read a card describing the functions of the cabinet and for the rest of them to guess which minister it is. This game allowed them to understand the structure of the cabinet, their functions and how they worked together.

Moreover, following their capacitation on their portfolios, there was a discussion held on how them as cabinet members and parliamentarians can curb the social ills they face in their schools and communities. Solution were thrown right in, from creating awareness campaigns and events to address these issues, having educational distributional materials, inviting different stage holders etc. More innovative or outside the script ideas ranged from having smoke detectors at school to alert school authorities on those who smoke on school grounds, random police raids during school for drug searches, having feeding schemes so those selling drugs to afford lunch. This was an inkling of the many innovative ideas which would help combat the social ills faced in schools and communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

In addition, to gage the knowledge the learners had acquired during a long day of training, the learners were separated into their schools and asked to present what they had learnt in the camp so far. The learners were highly innovative in their delivery, as some performed a poem and others a skit which depicted everything Africa Unite and the School Club program is dedicated to eradicating. At the end of the night, our participants from KwaDinakwakubo won the performances with an outstanding depiction of all they had learnt throughout the weekend.

Winners: KwaDinakwakubo High School

On the final day, our invited guest, Brian Mhlongo from Health Systems Trust who educated our members on public health care systems. He touched on the lack of privacy in public clinics and the lack of passion from the nurses which strips one from their right and dignity. To tackle this, health systems has developed the Chronic Central Medical Dispense, which is to aid chronic patients; especially the elderly, to collect their medication at Dischem, Clicks, Churches and local councillors. This is a system that the learners are going to educate their family members and community members about through their work within the school club. Thereafter, the learners then broke into their respective schools and drafted their year plan outlining the following: identifying the problem, plan an event/activity, identify month of event/activity, delegating the minister responsible and resources. 

Overall, the camp was successful, the learners were adequately capacitated and left highly educated on their roles and responsibilities of cabinet members and parliamentarians. Our leaders are now ready to tackle the social ills they have identified to be crippling their school.  

2019 KwaZulu-Natal Africa Unite School Club.

Africa Unite would like to thank Vuleka Trust Centre for their warm hospitality, as well as all the schools and parents who allowed us to work with such driven and bright learners.

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Africa Unite and International Rivers open up a dialogue on the Inga Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On the 3rd August 2019 Africa Unite and International Rivers held the Grand Inga Project Dialogue at 6 Spin Street, Cape Town. The dialogue focused on the Grand Inga Project – its origins, impacts on South Africa and the DRC, and the energy future for both the DRC and SA. This dialogue was engaged to bring together people to share their expertise and knowledge with Congolese citizens residing in South Africa and South Africans, to raise awareness, and empower citizens to ask the right questions, and inspire them to get involved in the energy debate. The event gathered more than 50 people.

3 guest speakers were invited: the first speaker was Ange Asanzi, member of International Rivers, the second one was Salomé Elolo member of Synergie des Femmes Solidaires (FESO), and the third speaker was Keamogetswe Seipato from Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC).

Ange Asanzi spoke about the Inga Project and energy justice for the DRC. She went into details on the complexities in Africa including: climate uncertainties, political instability, and colonial legacy of dams, centralized power, and technology advancements. The main areas of concern were:

  • The funding of the project: banks, South African government, China and Spain. 
  • The project is costly – and when Eskom is suffering financially, why is it viable to open up another project?
  • Various obstacles

She concluded and questioned the audience, why building a new dam when the first two dams, Inga 1 and 2 are working at a less capacity. Not a single city or village between the dams and Kolwezi is connected to the power grid (86% of DRC’s population has no access to electricity).  The energy harvested in the DRC still leaves Congolese in the dark because it is sold to other countries.

Ange Azasi (International Rivers) introducing the Inga Project

Salome Elolo is an African Woman from the DRC and a member of the Synergie des Femmes Solidaires. She spoke of what is happening on the ground in the DRC, where the community is experiencing a black out of information around the project. She expressed the pain and consequences for their communities, family and women from Inga projects 1 and 2. “We are rich in minerals, but the cost is our blood” – she repeated. The people of the DRC are demanding to restore Inga projects 1 and 2 before the Government starts Inga 3.

Keamogetswe Seipato spoke of the Macro factors pushing the Inga project, where governments and states have become the lubricant of corporations. This project is driven by the top 1% against the pain and determined for the majority of others. She explored how history shows that promises have not been kept in the past. She identified the conversations about electricity have shifted from nuclear to hydro power – but the same people are benefiting. She reiterated: “why is hydropower and dirty power on the cards” – when there are so many clean sustainable and better energy easily available and can be shared with the world.

The three presentations from the speakers raised a lot of questions amongst the participants such as people wanted to know how does International Rivers inform communities, raise awareness? If they would only focus on Inga Project, or also advocate against others dams for the protection of rivers. And how can they, as citizens, make a change?

Africa Unite Facilitator

The Congolese community felt like they have had suffered enough from history.

After a long fruitful discussion, the following recommendations were made:

  1. Engage with the government, put pressure on the political agenda, have a bottom-up approach.
  2. There must be transparency on the project and organizations.
  3. Organize marches, where they claim their rights.
  4. Use Inga1 and 2 at their full capacities, before launching Inga 3.
  5. Resolve the lack of electricity in Congo first, before selling electricity abroad.
  6. Make a petition, memorandum to present at the parliament.
  7. Engage with communities, advocate for their needs.
  8. Empower the Congolese who have suffered from history.
  9. Provide sustainable energy for the lack of electricity in Africa.
  10. Come together, united as Africans, with activists, communities, organizations, and governments.
  11. Work with Congolese Human Rights organizations.

In conclusion, the participants were thankful to Africa Unite and International Rivers for creating such an informative platform with informative and engaging speakers. The discussion brought solutions to the Congolese community on how they can be actor of change and brought people together as a unity of the African continent. The dialogue gave birth to critical thinking which brought people to question the political agenda behind the Inga Project which led to the writing of a memorandum which will be given to the parliament, as the voice of people.

Participants involved in the Inga Project Dialogue.
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30 Seconds Tournament Fundraiser for the Africa Unite School Club.

Africa Unite relies heavily on donations to continue operating the School Club. Therefore, on the 2nd of August we hosted a 30-seconds tournament as a fundraiser at Seedspace on 8 Spin Street, Cape Town. Ultimately, during the fundraising 100% of the proceeds will go towards School Club operations for the rest of the year.

Participants could buy the R50 tickets online, or at the door, and there were refreshments for sale throughout the event. Teams of 4 could enter the tournament and played 30 seconds against each of the other teams which had yet to lose a game, until there was only one team left.

Participants of the 30 Second Tournament

 The evening went well, with around 60 people participating in the tournament. Our online ticket page had 98 visitors over the time of its active operation, with 58 people coming straight from the link we forwarded. 14 people found the page through google, 14 through Facebook, and 2 through Instagram. From these hits on the site, we sold 12 tickets, and two people made donations, this all came to a total of R624. This should bring the online total to R596, because Quicket charges 4.5% of the revenue to NGOs for the use of their online payment services. In terms of at the door and refreshment sales, we made R4850. Therefore the event, in total, grossed R5446. However, it cost AU R600 to host the event, therefore the amount raised towards the running of Africa Unite’s school club came to: R4846.

Overall, people had a great time, and when guests were leaving many recommended that it be a reoccurring event.

Teams playing cards as they waited for the results

A big thank you needs to go to all the organisations who made this evening possible. Seedspace, a start-up hub and co-working space located in the CBD on the historical Church Square, who generously allowed us to host our event in their venue; Springfield Winery, Robertson Winery, Rooiberg Winery, and Saggy Stone Brewery, for the refreshments that they donated; and finally all those who chose to attend and buy tickets, because without their generosity there would have been no event.

The money raised will be put towards all the operations of the school clubs in the coming months, all of which will be posted on this blog if you want to keep up with the activities and programmes run by the learners in their communities.    

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Economic Justice Literacy: An eye opener for Africa Unite Peer Educators

An eye opener for Africa Unite Peer Educators

On the 22nd and 23rd of June 2019, Africa Unite hosted a 2-day residential Economic Justice Literacy training at Umhlanga Durban Accommodation in Durban. The training was attended by 25 Youth Human Rights Peer Educators from diverse backgrounds within KwaZulu Natal Province. This training was aimed at mobilizing and capacitating our peer educators on how the economy works, power dynamics and its impact on young people’s daily lives.

The training was facilitated by Mr Mervyn Abrahams (former Director of PACSA)   

During the session, the facilitator covered the following topics:

  • Economic justice literacy
  • Economic theories (capitalism, communism and socialism)
  • Economics and its model of development
  • How an economy works
  • The power dynamics inherent in an economic system
  • The role of Africa in the global economy

In exploring the education system in South Africa, through a simple exercise of drawing a set up of a classroom, the participants discovered that often there is a social order which has been put in place to create fear of authorities. Often the majority of people do not interrogate why a certain social order has been put in place. Hence, when the people start thinking out of the box, it becomes a threat to the social order.

The facilitator explained that the economy is about management of a household, he used a family as an illustration (Husband, wife, children etc.).The allocation of resources among the family members is to make everyone happy. However, the need of the family is unlimited and yet the money is limited. Although the family members would expect to receive as per need, the provider will make many considerations before responding to their needs and wants.

The participants learned the following economic theories: (1) that capitalism is based on the accumulation of wealth by few and they distribute to the rest by exploiting workers – they do not want government to be involved. (2) According to Karl Marx, the wealth must be in the hands of the population and the government must not be involved; The Marxist theory of cultural hegemony associated with Antonio Gramsci is the idea that the ruling class can manipulate the value system, however there is a counter-hegemony which attempts to dismantle hegemonic power, meaning a confrontation and opposition to the existing status quo by observing other spheres of life such as history, media, music. Etc.; (3) John Maynard Keynes, his theory is for the idea that government should intervene to stimulate demand and pull the global economy out of depression by creating jobs as there is a high level of unemployment.

From the above theories, our peer educators understood that there are no easy solutions to the economy. During the presentation, they also understood who is behind the economic activities such as land, raw materials, sea, infrastructures, labour, electricity, mining etc. Investors play a big role in supporting the economy. In South Africa, there are two kinds of investors, foreign (Europe and China) and local investors. Some of the critical conditions investors consider before investing are elements such as infrastructures, electricity, policies, political stabilities, materials, labour force and the market (consumers).

During the discussion, Mr Mervyn showed the role played by the financial institutions in the economy. In South Africa, contrary to many other countries, The Reserve Bank is being controlled by individuals. Often, the reserve bank keeps the inflation high which affects the borrower as the credit and bonds increase which in turn reduces job creation. Thus, explains why we have high unemployment rate among young people (55% Rate). The mandate of South African Reserve Bank is currently a serious debate which is dividing the leaders (President and Vice President) within the ruling party.

This topic generated a lot of discussion amongst young people who were interested to know more on the topic. The facilitator was obliged to give a brief political background on how South Africa was liberated through various negotiations which led to the final agreement in CODESA. One of the clause in the constitution was the respect of private property, which is one of the key element in the capitalist system.  

He also explained the idea behind the Land Act of 1913 where black people were not allowed to own or buy land. Majority of black people were allowed only 7% of the land and the rest of fertilised land was given to the white minority.

Looking at the importance of the content covered during the training, all the peer educators present agreed that they did not want this to remain a talk show and therefore agreed on the following actions:

  • To establish a youth economic forum comprised of the youth from different backgrounds to promote youth participation to influence policies
  • The group to undertake baseline research such as data on youth unemployment in townships and similar baseline research
  • More engagements with peers and communities on the economics of South Africa to create a culture of economic sustainability and curb ignorance on economic issues.
  • The group agreed to meet monthly at Moses Mabhida Stadium where a suitable venue was already given to Mr Mervyn (The facilitator) for ongoing youth gatherings.  
  • Africa Unite Durban office will publish a monthly calendar from July to December 2019 which will be distributed to youth from different backgrounds in the province in order to attract more young people.
  • The structure will try to work with other legislative and academic bodies.

All participants mentioned that the training was an eye opener as most of the issues raised were unknown to them. They do not want to be bystanders; they want to play a role in their respective communities. They were grateful to Africa Unite for the opportunities presented to them in order to have a general knowledge on the economy and its impact on their lives. Furthermore, the youth thanked Mr Mervyn Abrahams for making the economy interesting and easy to understand.

As Africa Unite, we are hoping that we will soon take the Economic Justice Literacy training to the Western Cape Province.

Additionally, We would like to thank our partner Misereor, DKA and CCFD for their contribution. .

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Africa Unite Participates in the European Development Days 2019 in Brussels.

The 2019 edition of the European Development Days kicked off on the 18th – 19th of June 2019 at the Tour and Taxis venue in Brussels, Belgium under the title: Addressing inequalities: building a world which leaves no one behind. Under this theme, the African continent was on the spotlight as the continent has always been deemed the mother of all inequalities. Each year, the global development community is invited to contribute directly to the official EDD programme by proposing activities and sessions. The forum fosters a true spirit of partnership with all development actors. Since its launch in 2006, the forum has been an incubator of new ideas to bring about real change towards a poverty-free, sustainable and fairer world, where everyone has the opportunity for a decent life.

The European Development Days (EDD) highlight Europe’s commitment to building a sustainable and fairer world. The forum builds on the core belief that cooperation is key to achieving real change towards a poverty-free and sustainable world where everyone has the prospect of a decent life. An essential aim is thus to inspire the desire to work together in a spirit of true partnership through facilitating networking.

For the first time since the official launch of the EDD, Africa Unite was invited to take part in this year’s edition. The conference was structured around the three main themes: i. Why inequalities matter for sustainable development ii. Understanding the structural causes of inequalities iii. Working better together through more effective policies to address inequalities; and the 5 “Ps” of the 2030 Agenda: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership. The focus was on promoting inclusivity and equality as a catalyst for progress towards global sustainable development. The forum attracted more than 8 000 participants from over 140 countries worldwide, representing 1 200 organisations from the development community. Participants ranged from Heads of state, human rights activists, business and industry leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, representatives from non-governmental organisations as well as academics. Everyone was given a voice in this open, collaborative and inclusive global platform.

Jean-Claude Juncker European Commission President delivered this year’s EDD2019 opening remarks. In addition, Commissioners Neven Mimica, Christos Stylianides, Marianne Thyssen, Pierre Moscovici and Mariya Gabriel also participated in different events. High level attendees High-level speakers and participants included: Her Majesty Mathilde, Queen of the Belgians; Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; Jorge Carlos Fonseca, President, Republic of Cape Verde; Macky Sall, President, Republic of Senegal; Charles Michel, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Belgium; Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Bhutan; and Antonio Tajani, President, European Parliament. Tony Blair, David Miliband and Cesar Alierta were among the many other leading figures from partner organisations, the private sector and civil society that participated in this year’s edition.

Esteemed EU Delegates and African Presidents

Fifteen young leaders selected by the EDD from around the world were also invited to debate inequalities but also to exchange ideas and experiences with world leaders and key policy-makers. Among the selected 15, 8 were youth from African countries such as Ghana, Malawi, eSwatini, Nigeria, Burundi, DRC, Namibia and Zambia. Over 100 NGOs and private sector institutions exhibited their work during the 2-day forum. In addition, over 200 sessions ran concurrently during the 2 days with various themes and topics and participants had the liberty to move around and join any session of their interest. The topics covered issues of migration, political instabilities, gender inequalities, human rights, climate change, partnerships, agriculture and food security, youth leadership, achieving SDGs, inequalities in countries etc. One of the highlighted sessions was on how countries are copying with inequalities and South Africa was the case study. 2 Government officials from the Department of Justice and a professor from Stellenbosch University were invited as the guest speakers.  A number of issues were raised that are directly linked to the work that Africa Unite through its Youth is implementing in South Africa. During the closing ceremony, Magic System a popular musical group from Ivory Coast electrified the whole audience with their performance which gave participants time to refresh after 2 days of unpacking pressing global issues.

Panelist Addressing Inequalities crippling the African continent.

In a nutshell, experts tried to address the inequalities the continent faces. Proposing ideas and solutions to solve the issues. Despite the real progress that has been made, inequality is still is a major impediment to sustainable development, limiting life chances by restricting access to everything from education and healthcare through to energy and sanitation. The European Commission  also issued a document reflecting how to better address inequalities through EU development cooperation, notably by making existing development cooperation policies more relevant to addressing inequalities; mainstreaming the reduction of inequalities in their programmes and projects in partner countries; working more closely and effectively with partner countries, EU Member States and partner organisations; and building up a data and knowledge base around inequalities issues.

During these days Africa Unite had the opportunity to network with different stakeholders where we explored the possibilities of partnering. A follow up will be conducted by Africa Unite in order to explore these potential partnerships further. 

Africa Unite would like to thank the European Commission for giving us this opportunity to participate in this eye-opening global forum.

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Addressing dire Water and Sanitation conditions in township with Weert Rotary Club Netherlands.

As part of our community conflict mediation (CCM) programme, that focuses on strengthening and capacitating grassroots communities to address their issues through, community dialogues, partnerships, collaboration and mobilization of community resources – Africa Unite was invited by the Weert Rotary Club in Netherlands to present a water and sanitation project for Europe Township in Cape Town. For the past 5 years, Africa Unite has rolled out the CCM programme in Europe which is one of the most impoverished black communities in the Western Cape. Through its young people/human rights peer educators that are trained on human rights and conflict mediation, Africa unite developed a community profile, established relations with key stakeholders in the community, facilitated a series of community dialogues and assisted to follow up on some of the outcomes of these dialogues.

Weert Rotary Club members

It did not come as a surprise to us that the issue of water and sanitation is critical in Europe and the community identified it as an area that needed urgent attention.  Diarrhea, water borne diseases, rats, lack of drainages, lack of toilets, lack of safe space for children to play including the deteriorated community hall amongst others are some of the daily struggles of Europe Township residents. A number of recommendations were proposed by the community during our dialogues and Africa Unite has partnered with various government and non-state actors to address some of these challenges. As part of our awareness programmes in Europe Township, Africa Unite works with children and parents in a programme called Singamakalipha which focuses on the holistic child’s growth through various psycho-social support activities and with youth in our Human Rights programme where we have capacitated over 20 youth in this area to lobby and advocate on water and sanitation issues on behalf of their community.

Africa Unite Associate Brilliant Nyambi Presenting on current state of Water and Sanitation in Western Cape Townships

Following this background, on the 12th of June 2019 Africa Unite presented a proposal on how Weert Rotary Club can partner with Africa Unite and Europe community on a sustainable project that can address some of the pressing water and sanitation issues. The presentation was done at local hotel in Weert in the presence of over 30 Weert Rotary members including their chairperson.

The presentation of the proposal was well received and a few questions of clarity were asked and responded to immediately. The proposal was also preliminary accepted and Africa Unite is looking forward to partnering with Weert Rotary club in Europe Township. The Rotary club members were also impressed with the general work of Africa Unite and expressed their desire to work more with Africa Unite on other projects.

Brilliant Nyambi with Weet Rotary Club Member

Africa Unite would like to thank Weert Rotary Club for giving us the opportunity to present this possible partnership.

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2019 National and Provincial Election Africa Unite Report to Independent Electoral Commission

Africa Unite is Youth empowerment and human rights organisation that works with youth from different backgrounds to prevent conflict, enhance social cohesion and promote socio-economic development. To combat the legacy of the divide between races and the growing ignorance and intolerance between cultures and classes, Africa Unite prepares young adults to face the challenges of living in South Africa while also being agents of change within their communities through a combination of educational and practical programmes.

For the past years, Africa Unite has trained more than 800 young people from different backgrounds to act as human rights peer educators. They have been capacitated with human rights knowledge. In return, these young people are encouraged to disseminate the knowledge gained among their peers, schools and communities. The peer educators use their various local languages such as isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans and English etc… to allow for wider engagement from their audience. This method of training individuals or groups to train other individuals or groups is sometimes referred to as “training the trainers”. It is also known as Peer Education.

Part of their work is to raise awareness about human rights in general and the right of vulnerable groups (women, children, people with disabilities, senior people, migrant and refugees). Political rights are one of the rights given only to citizens, unfortunately, we have noticed that young people tend to ignore this right. In order to raise awareness on voter education among young people, Africa Unite has worked with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) since 2010. In 2016, we were accredited to be observers during Municipal Elections which permitted our youth to observe the electoral process for the first time.

During May 2019 National and provincial elections, Africa Unite deployed 17 young people selected among our peer educators from Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal as observers. In total, 13 voting stations located in different Townships were observed in both provinces. This report will highlight the feedback received during their observation.

Below is the feedback obtained during their observation in different voting stations in townships in Cape Town and KwaZulu Natal.

FEEDBACK ON OBSERVATIONS ON THE FOLLOWING VOTING STATIONS:

I. WESTERN CAPE – CAPE TOWN

1. Sophumelela High School (VD No. 97092322)

Pre-opening:
The voting station opened at 07h00 and set up the voting station accordingly. There were 3 tables allocated for scanning identity documents, checking registries and marking of thumbs. There were two additional tables for the distribution of ballot papers and a booth controller. At the end, there was a ballot box controller as well to direct where others’ ballots had to go. There was also a constant visible police presence.

Voting Process:
There was a drunk voter who collapsed two different voting booths. Due to this incident, some voters were unable to place their ballots inside the booth and they were obliged to leave it on the floor. These ballots were considered as spoiled- this was agreed by all party agents apart from an ANC party agent who filled in a Rec 5 form as a result. 2 voters were turned away because one was unregistered and the other was a foreign national.

Post-opening & Counting:
There was some concern from party agents regarding the validity of spoiled ballots and a recounting of those ballots had to take place. There was a large voter turnout across age and sex demographics filling up 4 sets of ballot boxes.

Recommendations                                                                                                       

  • An IEC staff member must be assigned to direct voters where to go, especially to assist elderly voters or to demarcate the area behind the booths with tape to avoid voters from placing ballots on the stage or on the floor.

2. Mfuleni Secondary School (VD No. 97142283)
Pre-opening:
The start of the election process at 7:00am until the end of the ballot counting at about 02:00am Although the weather was not as motivating to get out of the house on Election Day, as Mfuleni experienced heavy showers of rain from the morning, the community members were not affected. As from 9am, the voting station at Mfuleni High; had long lines which extended outside the school gate.

Voting Process:
Nonetheless, although the IEC members were working efficiently most of the day, at around 16:00, the service declined, and the line did not move as fast as before. Following this, around 17:30 the scanner used to identify voters ran out of paper and the voting came to a pause until 18:00 while IEC members organized a new roll. Unfortunately, right before the voting came to a pause, at 17:25 the party agents got into a verbal uproar among themselves as they accused one of the party agents for breaking protocol. At 19:00 the four ballot boxes (2 national and 2 provisional) were sealed and replaced as they had reached maximum capacity. When the new boxes were stationed, party agents were called to inspect the boxes to ensure they were empty. This showed transparency within the IEC as they followed protocol and ensured that the elections were free and fair. At this point, Mfuleni High School voting station had already processed 5000+ voters.

Post-opening & Counting:
At 20:30 the voting station decreased in numbers, as the final few voters came through, mostly the elderly coming from work. At 21:00, the voting station was closed with an additional 3227 and 2953 provincial votes being added to the previous toll. At 21:27, the station was completely shut down with only the IEC members, party agents, 4 police officers, and Africa Unite observers being present in the voting hall. The counting process went on until about 02:00.

Recommendations

  • There is a need to have more IEC members helping to speed up the voting process especially after 18h00
  • IEC must have more than one scanner at the voting station
  • Additional booths are needed to speed up the process
  • There must be at least one Police officer based inside the voting station to intervene in-case conflict may arise
  • There must be a designated first aider on the premises in case there is an incident
  • The Presiding Officer must take control of the counting process as the party agents become unruly

3. Masonwabe Primary School (VD No. 97142306)
Pre-opening:
There were 2 tables allocated for registration, one table for marking of voter’s thumb and one table for the serving of ballot papers. There was lack of police visibility throughout the morning and afternoon as only 2 police officers were visible. However, in the evening the number of police officers increased to a total of 4 police officers.

Voting Process:
There was a drunk voter who shouted that he was “voting for Zuma”. Some people tried to vote together in a single voting booth. There was a total of 4 ballot boxes that were used on the day in the station with an additional two of the boxes that were used for special voting day (previous two days), these two boxes had very little votes in them. There was no voting booth controller.

Post-opening & Counting:
Counting proceeded smoothly, though slowly. It was decided that ticks were counted as well as X marks. There were many spoilt votes.

Recommendations

  • An IEC Official must guide voters to the empty booths and regulate stalls if he/she is not available, then a piece of tape can be used to mark where voters must wait
  •  There is a need for voter education and more awareness regarding registration and special voting processes

II. KWA-ZULU NATAL – DURBAN

4. Lamontville Community Office (VD No. 43371031)

Pre-opening:
Counting proceeded smoothly, though slowly. It was decided that ticks were counted as well as X marks. There were many spoilt votes.

Voting Process:
Party agents were wearing party regalia during the mobile special voting process. There was disruption by EFF party in the form of organized collective singing, dancing and chanting within the location of the voting station after the end of the special voting process.

Post-opening & Counting:
Lamontville township was expecting 3000 voters but only 2888 casted their ballots. Votes were shared amongst political parties as follows; ANC 238, EFF 375, IFP 68 and the remaining were shared amongst other parties which include DA and ATM.

Recommendations

  • Party agents must be briefed in advance by the Presiding Officer before the mobile site visits began about the voting procedures including the prohibition of wearing party regalia.
  • Political parties must not be allowed within the parameters of the voting stations and must be outside the yard of any voting station.

5. Protea Secondary School (VD No. 43371626)

Pre-opening:
Voting Station was opened late at 07:20. Chatsworth community expected 1000 voters.

Voting Process:
Zip-zap machine was not working and scanning IDs. The other voting processes went well without any issues.

Post-opening & Counting:
More than 1200 votes were casted, and the results were as follows: DA 820, ANC 255, MF 42 and IFP got few votes and the other political parties had no political support and the area is mainly by one racial group.

Recommendations:

  • IEC staff must be at the voting station on time so that the station is opened on time for voters to cast their votes.

6. Oceanview Primary School (VD No. 43371592)

Pre-opening:
Havenside in Chatsworth community expected 1000 voters

Voting Process:
Forthright and headstrong party agent dictated to the Presiding Officer, Deputy Presiding Officer and IEC staff in an unruly manner. Hence being out-of-order and disturbing the smooth and peaceful operation of the voting station.

Post-opening & Counting:
Received more than 1100 voters and the results were: DA 938, ANC 11, IFP I and MF 14.

Recommendations:

  • The Presiding Officer must have a briefing with Party Agent, informing them of their role and responsibility prior to Pre-opening the voting station.
  • The Presiding Officer must address any individual party agent at any point during the day when finding that they are over-exerting their role and responsibility, being unruly, disruptive and disturbing the peace of the voting station.
  • If Presiding Officer is scared of being assertive or if the behaviour continues then Security Officers to be called in and have party agent to be removed from the voting station.

7. Summerfield Primary School (VD No. 43371637)

Pre-opening:
This was the only station from all we attended in Chatsworth where the Presiding Officer ensured that all other party agents and election observers list their names on both the Presiding Officer diaries. All voting staff were dressed in IEC officially-issued uniforms unlike in other voting stations. This was highly admirable and made all staff look excellent.

Voting Process:
There was a complaint by a party agent that the blank or available balance of ballot papers were counted in the back room and not in the full view of party agents, IEC staff and Election observers. Party agent from EFF touched

Post-opening & Counting:
The ballots took too long to count and the verification counting processes was lengthy. The Presiding Officer had the counters verify the stamp on the back for each ballot and then once completed verify each ballot again for a questionable ballot. This made the process long, tiring and drawn out even though she had the best intentions of the integrity of the process in mind and at heart. One box for both national and provincial ballots made the sorting process of national and provincial unnecessary, long and drawn-out. Bayview in Chatsworth expected 2000 voters to cast their votes on the day and about 1920 voters came as a result.

Recommendations

  • The IEC must provide better voting education particularly on how to vote and what kinds of marks count.
  • The Party agents are not to touch or interfere with the natural or otherwise environment of the area in and around where they are pitching their political party tent outside the Voting District.
  • Presiding Officer at both voting stations need to ensure that the party agents and election observers fill their information in the Presiding Officer’s diary.
  • There must be two boxes, one for provincial, one for national, this will
    render the sorting and counting process easier.

8. Depot Road Memorial Primary School (VD No. 43371648)

Pre-opening:
Voting booths placed in front of windows where one window’s blinds was opened. 1000 voters were expected to vote in this voting station, just over 1000 voters voted.

Voting Process:
A voter demanding his ballot to be stamped on the face of the ballot paper. Presiding Officer gave in to his demands. Ballot boxes were not marked with all the information required on the side of the ballot boxes. Nail polish remover and cotton wool was used for removing nail polish from voter’s thumb for mark of indelible ink.

Post-opening & Counting:
Just over 1000 voters voted in this station with the following results after counting; NATIONAL DA – 882, ANC – 106, ACDP – 40 and other parties such as EFF and IFP had to share the remaining votes.

Recommendations:

  • IEC needs to develop a special policy regarding the protocol if the voter has nail polish on.
  • IEC must raise awareness regarding the removal of the ink, hence informing voters that removing the ink is a criminal offense.

9. Sarva Dharma Ashram (VD No. 43371446)
Pre-opening:
Voting station personnel staff were badly positioned, sitting haphazardly on desks and tables and working very unprofessionally. Section 24 (A) forms not filled in by Presiding Officer for voters. Rather Section 24 (A) voters turned away. Voting booths so poorly erected, leaning and falling. Voting station dimly lit. Voter Station untidy and haphazard. Highly sensitive IEC stationery not stored away kept open and in front and accessible to all.

Voting Process:
No proper voting flow. Such items as beverages, food, bags, shoes, toilet roll, etc. Thrown around haphazardly on and under chairs, benches, and tables. The Presiding Officer refused to complete Section 24 (A) Forms for voters. Safety Officers were bringing this to her attention due to overboiling frustration in the form of anger by the political parties outside the fenced perimeter of the voting station along the roadside. She did not respond to their needs. Presiding Officer was stubborn and had an unapproachable attitude. The staff member who was controlling the zip-zap machine was throwing out all the printouts from the zip-zap on the floor and table. This looked very untidy and improperly scattered. Party agents outside in their tents along the roadside were surprisingly well-behaved, cool, calm and collected even while enjoying their music and liveliness of their party tent-station save their frustration and anger at the Presiding Officer who refused to fill in and complete Section 24 (A) Forms.

Post-opening & Counting:
2 000 voters were expected and less than the expected number came to vote, and the results were as follows;  NATIONAL: ANC 1 038, DA – 444, EFF – 159, and COPE, IFP, ACDP getting few votes. IEC needs to develop a special policy regarding the protocol if the voter has nail polish on. IEC must raise awareness regarding the removal of the ink, hence informing voters that removing the ink is a criminal offense.

Recommendations:

  • The IEC must evaluate the attitude of the Presiding Officer, as this can cause commotion during the election process.
  • The IEC needs to improve the voting flow of the voting station.
  • IEC should ensure that the voting stations are kept tidy at all times.
  • The IEC staff members needs to ensure that voting booths are properly assembled.
  • During Venue checks, the IEC must ensure that the voting
    stations have enough light and around voting booths.

10. Bhekokuhle Primary School (VD No. 43390481)
Pre-opening:
The station was prepared from 06:00 in the morning the election staff were early and were able to make up the ballot boxes and voting polls. The election process started late at 07:20 because there was no identity scanning machine. The community of Deisenhofer expected 1900 voters to vote.

Voting Process:
Because there was no identity scanning machine, it was difficult for those who did not appear on the voters roll. There were voters coming to the voting station under the influence of alcohol who ended up disturbing other voters in the line and disrupted the voting process. There was a couple that came in and the man took the identity book of his spouse and gave it to loan shark as leverage for money they ended up fighting in the voting venue as the woman was irritated by this act of her spouse because she was not able to vote. She then took the identity of her spouse and said to him he will not vote if she was not voting. A party agent helped an old woman when she was casting her vote in the absence of Presiding Officer and other party agents, this was wrongdoing and the Presiding Officer did not take any action on this.

Post-opening & Counting:
During the counting of votes, the presiding officer and her deputies were not completely open to the party agents when there were spoilt ballot papers they only see by themselves and not show to the party agents before canceling the votes. There was an incident where the second deputy presiding officer had to recount the votes after the EFF party agents requested so, the Deputy Presiding Officer miscalculated ANC votes which were 45 and said there were 50. During the counting, some IEC staff fell asleep and party agents of the ATM party and a party agent of the EFF. There was a time where the Presiding Officer counted a spoilt ballot paper to the favor of the ANC. The police officers opened the doors and let counting IEC staff, party agents and themselves out of the counting venue which was against the rules and laws of the IEC.

Recommendations:

  • There needs to be better education for the public about the voting process and their rights to vote.
  • The IEC must supply the voting station with functioning scanning machines and t-shirts before Pre-opening.
  • The criteria in which the IEC uses to identify and employ their Presiding Officers should be revised due to the level of unprofessionalism and lack of knowledge the Presiding Officer had
  • There should be more election observers since there and robbery by othe
  • Political parties should educate their agents on what roles and responsibilities are during the election process. The IEC should penalize the party agents who create chaos during this time.

11. Inanda White City Creche (VD No. 43362176)
Pre-opening:
The voters came at the station around 06:00. The station was opened at 07:00 but the voting process did not start until 08:30 as there was an unexpected delay. The community of Inanda expected 7000 voters as they had two substations.

Voting Process:
Out of the two substations, there was one identity scanning machine working in both substations. There were senior citizens who applied for special voting but did not vote due to their responses being sent via SMS and they were unable to access them. Nevertheless, they could vote when they came to the voting station. There was a male who came with an old identity book and his face could not be recognized, though there were some delays eventually his identity was scanned and could vote. There were three parties whose agents were present (EFF, ANC, and ATM) and at around 18:00 the electricity went off and returned at around 21:00 and there was no voter at the station at the time.

Post-opening & Counting:
Station closed at 21:00. The counting process started at 22:00 after an hour break from 21:00, when it started there was a ballot box with eight votes from the special voting on the 7th May, the box was still sealed when it was opened. There were no complaints during the counting process although party agents and IEC staff fell asleep during the process. There were 29 ballot papers spoilt. The voting station was closed at 08:00 the following day (09th May 2019).

12. Ntuzuma A Voting Station (VD No. 43360860)
Pre-opening:
The voting station opened at exactly 07:00. Lindelani community expected 1517 voters to vote. Ballot boxes were assembled in front of all-party agents and observers.

Voting Process:
For one voter to cast his or her vote, it took them about 3-10 minutes on the booth. All party agents and observers were present all day. The Venue was accessible, clean and in good working conditions. The voters were very excited about the process.

Post-opening & Counting:
Voting station closed at 21:00 for counting. But counting started at 21:30 after 30 minutes break.

13. Umtapho High School (VD No. 43361063)

Pre-opening:
Umtapho voting station opened at exactly 07:40. Lindelani community expected 1000 voters. Ballot boxes were assembled in front of all-party agents and observers were placed in front of everyone to see them.

Voting Process:
All party agents and observers were present all day. The station had water shortage but community members were generous enough to provide water. For one voter to cast his or her vote it took them about 3-10 minutes on the booth. One voter almost did not vote because his name was already cancelled on a voter’s roll and only to discover that the voters roll control scratched the wrong person.

Post-opening & Counting:
Umtapho voting station closed at 21:10 for counting. Counting started at 21:40 after 30 minutes break

III. GENERAL CHALLENGES

Observer GEAR

  • In Cape Town, the gear (observer’s bibs, handbooks, and accreditation) which were supposed to be used by our youth peer educators as observers on the day of the Elections came two days later after the Elections.

Observer’s Training

  • IEC conducted a quick training for only two hours for the Presiding Officer. This was also only 2 days away from Election Day. This was not enough for someone to understand all the procedures of the IEC needs to run free and fair elections.

IV. GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Training of Presiding Officers must be more than one day for them to be more effective in achieving their task as their duties are more demanding and agile.
  • IEC needs to develop a special policy regarding the protocol if the voter has nail polish on. This will avoid any conflict between the IEC staff and the voter.
  • The voter must be well equipped with voter education to ensure that each voter understands all information pertaining to elections. This will also avoid spoilt ballots.
  • Young people must be encouraged and motivated to play an active role in all electoral processes
  • The turnout of young voters was alarming, this indicates that young people lack interest in taking an active role in making decisions on public interest. We strongly recommend IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) to form a partnership with NGO’s who are working with the youth to intensify the campaign on Voter education targeting young people.
  • Voters who been identified drunk at the voting stations, the Residing Officer must inform the Security officials in advance so that they can be assisted through the process quickly to avoid chaos. In 13 of our voting stations in Townships where we observed, there were no other observers besides us. We, therefore, recommend IEC to encourage civic society to play the role of observers.

V. CONCLUSION
The 2019 National and Provincial elections were handled in a manner that allowed everyone who is a registered voter to exercise their right to vote as they freely chose. The Electoral Commission displayed a character of honesty and openness for the purpose of providing confidence to the public about the outcomes of the elections. There were challenges that the Electoral Commission of South Africa must quickly attend to such as voter education, consistent lengthy campaign to attract young voters, timeous dispatch of the necessary gear to observers and others that are mentioned in the recommendations. The Africa Unite observers conclude that the elections were conducted in an environment conducive for elections to take place and that the electoral process was transparent, free and fair.

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