Between the 1st and 4th of July 2014 in Cape Town, peacemakers from more than 25 countries in Africa met to share experiences, identify gaps, and make some recommendations for the Pan African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network that was establishment in 2012. The delegates from over 20 organizations pledged to intensify coordinated nonviolent resistance on the African continent and the world at large.
As participants reflected on the network, the peacemakers met to share experiences and progress of nonviolence training and actions at grassroots level which can also be useful for the network going forward. A highlight was the inspiring presentation by Jenny Williams, on their struggle in Zimbabwe and how they managed to mobilise people to fight for their cause. It demonstrated the power of nonviolence and power of the people, as well as the use of social media. However, much still needs to be done to dismantle the military/industrial state.
The network, although it has been established for 2 years already, is still endeavouring to build its implementation strategies. Hence gaps were identified and recommendations put forward on how the network can move forward in this regard. Some of the challenges identified were the lack of a proper coordinated communication system, lack of a well maintained website, absence of a sufficient strategy to expand the network, and the need to identify thematic areas that each member can focus on.
During the meeting it was decided that members of the original steering committee would continue, with the addition of new members from the regions that were not represented from the first meeting. So new members from West, East and Central Africa were added to the list. This led to the establishment of a 16-member steering committee. Nozizwe Madlala-Routldge and Moses Monday were elected as co-chairs of the network.
The network acknowledged that there are many other networks on the continent and aims to connect with them to expand the work on nonviolence and peace building in the region. It will build on the present work by expanding the network to other countries and organizations, providing a significant resource to build peace in Africa by resisting militarism, supporting democracy, security, integrity in government, justice and human rights, and training in nonviolence and nonviolent direct action. It was agreed that there is need for better communication mechanisms, in light of which a task team was established to create a database for all the participants and to work on developing the website.