The ACTION Support Centre Blog http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php Blog: Africa Regional Hub of a Global Network of Individuals and Organisations Committed to Positive ACTION to Transform Conflict en-us SWAYOCO Statement on Global Week of ACTION http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=125 We the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) join the Swazi people and the world in the 4th Global Week of Action as led by the Swaziland United Democratic Front, through its Campaign wing the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) in calling for a democratic Swaziland. As we engage the Global Week of Action Swaziland in crisis.

The blatant abuse of human and political rights in Swaziland by Mswati’s regime has reached alarming levels. The arrests of our leaders, PUDEMO President Mario Masuku and the Secretary General of SWAYOCO is a testimony to this. The brutal regime has demonstrated sheer arrogance to the people’s peaceful call for freedom and democracy. The failure of the regime to meet the five conditions set by the United States of America (USA) for it to be able to access the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), is a clear sign that Mswati’s regime is ready to cling to power at the expense of the people who are the biggest losers with the scrapping of AGOA. Thousands of our sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers who are currently employed at the textile industries are going to be out of jobs come January 2015 when the decision by the USA is implemented resulting in the increase in the already bloated army of the unemployed.

The lack of the independence of the judiciary is no surprise to us as it is a common trend for all dictators to have a highly politicised judiciary, so that it can punish its adversaries. This is a culture that was inculcated by the notorious 1973 decree promulgated by the then king Sobhuza 2. It is our firm belief as SWAYOCO that the doctrine of the separation of powers will only be achieved under a constitutional multi party dispensation.

As SWAYOCO we note with sadness the crumbling state of our health institutions, recently a substantial number of infants died due to diarrhoea, and these deaths could have been prevented if we had a caring government providing its people with medication.

The regime continues to disregard the right to education for all. The Free education campaign has dismally failed under the Tinkhundla system. Thousands of children are still out of school because of the top up system (this is whereby parents or guardians are made to add a certain amount of money on top of that paid by the government) adopted by most schools. With the high poverty levels in our country, currently at 63%, most Swazis are failing to pay this top up fees demanded by schools.

Recently, the government of Mswati announced that it shall be giving scholarships to only 3000 tertiary institutions. This is an insult to the youth of Swaziland that qualifies to further its studies. It is our firm believe that the money that is used in the military should be directed to human development because there is no external threat to Swaziland. The gap between the poor and rich keeps on widening by the day. The looting and plundering of our natural resources by the regime and its cronies at Maloma Coal mine and at Ngwenya iron ore mine at the expense of the local communities and the workers who get nothing from natural resources of our land continues unabated under Tinkhundla system. Through the looting of our resources the royal family continues to live a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the marginalised masses who live in abject poverty.

The time for decisive action against the Royal Tinkhundla dictatorship is now. We call upon peace loving people of the world to stand against Tinkhundla and join the Swazi people in demanding freedom and democracy in Swaziland. We the youth of Swaziland call for the isolation of Mswati’s regime, let Mswati and his cronies feel the pain of international solidarity. We call upon all young people in Swaziland to lead the struggles for democracy, freedom and a better future.

As SWAYOCO we demand:

  1. The release of the Release of the People’s President Mario Masuku, and our Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini and all other political prisoners from Mswati’s prisons.
  2. The decriminalisation of PUDEMO and SWAYOCO.
  3. The Removal of the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008, which criminalises political activity.
  4. The unbanning of all political parties and the unconditional return of all political prisoners.
  5. An independent judiciary and respect of basic human rights.
  6. The respect of worker’s rights and the registration of TUCOSWA.
  7. The proceeds from Tibiyo TakaNgwane and Tisuka TakaNgwane should benefit the ordinary people of Swaziland.

As the youth we are not going to take oppression lying down the time for us to rise against Mswati’s misrule is now. Victory is within reach. Yes we shall achieve freedom in our lifetime.

SWAYOCO Statement

Issued by: Bheki Dlamini (SWAYOCO President.)

Date:  27 August 2014

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:18:11 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=125
President Mario has fallen terribly Ill due to horrible prison conditi http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=124 President Mario has fallen terribly Ill due to horrible prison conditions


The People’s United Democratic Movement’s (PUDEMO) President Mario Masuku has fallen critically ill at His Majesty’s Correctional Services at the Zakhele Remand Centre. He is suffering from pneumonia due to a combination of various horrible conditions he has been exposed to. He has grown physically weak, pale, lost weight and has lost part of his eyesight.


Having to be subjected to a poor diet of porridge, beans and the occasional poorly cooked cabbage has contributed to his deteriorated condition.


Zakhele remand centre has refused to put President Masuku in a cell well secured in terms of cold and bad weather conditions since his arrest on the 1st of May 2014. He has been further denied warm clothes and access to his private medical practitioner. Visitors who come to check on him have been made to wait for nothing less than five hours, including refusal of his own son to consult him in his capacity as a lawyer .The latter has been classified as a normal visitor, much against the law itself. 


Some of his comrades have been banned from visiting him. The ban was constituted after they brought him and Maxwell Dlamini newspapers deemed too political by warders. The reading material included nation magazine which is a Swazi monthly publication that is normally critical of the authorities, city press and Sowetan which are both South African newspapers.


Maxwell Dlamini still in academic limbo


Maxwell Dlamini, the Secretary General of Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), who was arrested alongside Masuku, continues to be denied the right to sit for his examinations at the University of Swaziland where he is doing his fourth year in Commerce. Much against the dictates of the laws of the country Justice Mpendulo Simelane overturned his own judgement that Dlamini should write his examinations. In what appears to be two shades of Justice, a convicted fraudster, a known king’s praise singer Chawe Mamba is allowed to further his studies while the 23 years old Dlamini’s future has been abruptly curtailed. 


As the Commander in Chief of the Correctional Services, PUDEMO holds Mswati III responsible for the abuse perpetrated on both President Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini. It will also hold him answerable in the eventuality that the condition of the President worsens to the point of death. 


PUDEMO demands that Mzuthini Ntshangase as head of the prisons should personally attend to this matter as soon as possible because it has become clear that his subordinates have not even the least regard for the law. As an awaiting trial detainee President Mario Masuku remains innocent until proven to the contrary. He should get fair treatment as per his health condition. His son should be allowed to consult him like any other lawyer. He must be allowed visitations and his visitors must not be intimidated with harassment and banning.


PUDEMO demands that Maxwell Dlamini should be immediately allowed his right to education by being allowed to write his examination.


PUDEMO remains deeply touched by the levels of cruelty and inhuman conditions that these prisoners of conscious are daily subjected to.


Issued by: The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)/ Office of the Deputy President 

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Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:18:10 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=124
STATEMENT BY THE HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER ON THE NEW ZSP http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=123 STATEMENT BY THE HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER ON THE NEW ZIMBABWE PERMIT DISPENSATION (ZSP)


In April 2009, the Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa approved the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project – or ‘DZP’ – allowing Zimbabwean holders of this special permit to work, conduct business and study in South Africa.


The objectives then were to:

  • Regularize Zimbabweans residing in South Africa illegally
  • Curb the deportation of Zimbabweans who were in SA illegally
  • Reduce pressure on the asylum seeker and refugee regime, and
  • Provide amnesty to Zimbabweans who obtained SA documents fraudulently

This was a significant gesture of support and solidarity with our neighboring country of Zimbabwe in response to the large number of Zimbabweans residing illegally in South Africa due to political and economic instability there.


Approximately 295 000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit.


Just over 245 000 permits were issued, with the balance being denied due to lack of passports or non-fulfillment of other requirements.

These permits begin expiring on 31 December 2014.The approaching expiry date has caused anxiety for many permit-holders, particularly those who are not ready to return to Zimbabwe, as they contemplate their next steps.The Department of Home Affairs has been considering this matter for some time.I recently met with my Zimbabwean counterpart, Minister Kembo Mohadi, to discuss matters of mutual concern, including the imminent expiry of the DZP.While we note the ongoing political and economic recovery in Zimbabwe, consistently supported by the South African government, we are aware that it will take time for her to fully stabilize.


As you will know, the Department of Home Affairs is mandated to manage immigration effectively, to promote our country’s development, enhance its security, and fulfill its international obligations.


Our management of immigration is also informed by our foreign policy, one feature of which is Pan-Africanism.


South Africa recognizes itself as an integral part of the African continent and therefore understands its national interest as being intrinsically linked to Africa’s stability, unity, and prosperity.


Finally, we are committed to manage immigration in a way which treats all visitors humanely, in an efficient manner and according to our own deeply-embedded human rights ethos.


We are appreciative of the many contributions made by Zimbabweans in our society and economy.


Zimbabweans have made notable contributions in our education and health sectors for example as teachers and health professionals, and in many other sectors.


In general, we appreciate the contribution of the immigrants in our country in terms of enhancing our social, cultural and economic life.We are aware that Zimbabwe will need this rich human capital to further advance its own development, but accept that for the time being, many DZP permit-holders would prefer to continue their stay in South Africa.

It is in this context, that in recent weeks I have taken note of this anxiety and promised to outline a way forward, after consultation with Cabinet.The Department of Home Affairs developed a proposal, refined in recent months, which was accepted by Cabinet on 6 August 2014.Section 31(2) of the Immigration Act states that: “upon application, the Minister may under terms and conditions determined by him:- grant a foreigner or a category of foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a specified or unspecified period when special circumstances exist which would justify such a decision. Provided that the Minister may

  • exclude one or more identified foreigners from such categories,
  • or with good cause, withdraw such rights from a foreigner or category of foreigners.”

The Act further empowers the Minister to: “for good cause, withdraw an exemption granted by him or her in terms of this section.Accordingly, I announce today, the closure of the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project, as of 31 December, 2014.As a result, it is important to note that the expiry date of all DZP permits which expire before 31 December 2014 is accordingly delayed until 31 December 2014. The expiry date of those DZP permits which expire after December 2014, is being brought forward to 31 December 2014.


Furthermore, I hereby announce the creation of the new Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit of 2014, or to use the acronym, the ‘ZSP’.All relevant and available details are outlined in the media packs accompanying this announcement, but I will give an overview of the most important details.

DZP permit-holders who wish to remain in South Africa after the expiry of their permits, can reapply for the ZSP, subject to certain conditions.These conditions include, but are not limited to: a valid Zimbabwean passport; evidence of employment, business or accredited study; and a clear criminal record.The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, conduct business and study in South Africa, for the duration of the permit, which is valid until 31 December, 2017.

Applications will open on 01 October 2014, and close on 31 December 2014. Applications will be managed by our partner VFS, and adjudicated by the Department of Home Affairs. VFS will open four new offices in provinces where we anticipate large numbers of applicants, namely Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.These are in addition to the eleven offices already open, all of which will deal with ZSP applications.


In line with the new, improved process for all visa and permit applications, applications will begin online, with appointments given for in-person finalization at a visa facilitation center.Therefore there will be no queues as experienced in the past, and we trust applicants will enjoy a pleasant and efficient application experience. An administration fee will apply, which we will communicated once it has been decided, after the completion of discussions between the Department and VFS.

ZSP permit-holders who wish to stay in South Africa after the expiry of the ZSP, must return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act, subject to the relevant requirements.These applications will be considered within 12 months of the expiry of the ZSP permits, so from January 2017.We will now embark on an extensive stakeholder engagement process, to inform DZP permit-holders and other interested parties about the ZSP process.We will continue the productive engagement we enjoyed with stakeholder formations during the DZP process four years ago, but of course are open to work with new stakeholders which may have emerged since then.

The Department of Home Affairs, on behalf of the government and people of South Africa welcomes visitors from Zimbabwe, SADC, Africa and the rest of the world.We welcome Zimbabwe’s return to a path of stability and prosperity, and remain committed to cooperation and partnership with our valued neighbor.


The ZSP is a temporary bridge to the near future when all Zimbabweans will reenter the mainstream immigration process in South Africa.

I thank you.

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Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:52:04 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=123
Gaza Calling: All out on Saturday 9 August Day of Rage http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=122
Join the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement today. Demand Sanctions on Israel Now.

Palestinian trade unions are calling on our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement internationally to stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel. The trade union movement has a proud history of direct action against Apartheid in South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions has joined us in the call for direct action to end Israel’s impunity.

As we face the full might of Israel’s military arsenal, funded and supplied by the United States and European Union, we call on civil society and people of conscience throughout the world to pressure governments to sanction Israel and implement a comprehensive arms embargo immediately.

Take to the streets on Saturday 9 August with a united demand for sanctions on Israel.

From Gaza under invasion, bombardment, and continuing siege, the horror is beyond words.  Medical supplies are exhausted. The death toll has reached 1813 killed (398 children, 207 women, 74 elderly) and 9370 injured (2744 children, 1750 women, 343 elderly). Our hospitals, ambulances, and medical staff are all under attack while on duty. Doctors and paramedics are being killed while evacuating the dead. Our dead are not numbers and statistics to be recounted; they are loved ones, family and friends.

While we have to survive this onslaught, you certainly have the power to help end it the same way you helped overcome Apartheid and other crimes against humanity. Israel is only able to carry out this attack with the unwavering support of governments – this support must end.

This is our third massacre in six years. When not being slaughtered, we remain under siege, an illegal collective punishment of the entire population. Fishermen are shot and killed if they stray beyond a 3 km limit imposed unilaterally by Israel. Farmers are shot harvesting their crops within a border area imposed unilaterally by Israel.  Gaza has become the largest open-air prison, a concentration camp since 2006. This time, we want an end to this unprecedented crime against humanity committed with the complicity and support of your own governments!

We are not asking for charity. We are demanding solidarity, because we know that until Israel is isolated and sanctioned, these horrors will be repeated.

Take action this Saturday

Make boycotts, divestments and sanctions the main message at every protest around the world. Take banners and placards calling for sanction on Israel to every protest. Tweet them using the hashtag #GazaDayofRage. Email us your pictures and action details to GazaDayofRage@gmail.com.

While news of all the mass protests outside Israel’s embassies around the world have given us hope, after weeks of protests, we urge you to intensify your actions. Occupy Israeli embassies, challenge Israeli officials (and others) supporting the current aggression against Gaza whenever they appear in public and stage sit-in in government buildings.

Boycott all Israeli products and take action against corporations profiting from Israel’s system of colonialism, occupation and apartheid. March to boycott targets in your city and educate the public about companies complicit in Israel’s ongoing military assault and illegal siege of Gaza.

Palestinian trade unions are calling on our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement internationally to stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel. The trade union movement has a proud history of direct action against Apartheid in South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions has joined us in the call for direct action to end Israel’s impunity.

From occupied and besieged Gaza

Signed by: Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Women, University Teachers’ Association in Palestine, Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (Umbrella for 133 orgs), Medical Democratic Assembly, General Union of Palestine Workers, General Union for Health Services Workers, General Union for Public Services Workers, General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers, General Union for Agricultural Workers, Union of Women’s Work Committees, Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum), Youth Herak Movement, Union of Women’s Struggle Committees, Union of Synergies—Women Unit, Union of Palestinian Women Committees, Women’s Studies Society, Working Woman’s Society, Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel, Gaza BDS Working Group, One Democratic State Group, Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions National Committee (BNC)

BNC includes: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Palestinian National Institute for NGOs, Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition, Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), Federation of Independent Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Workers, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Women, Union of Palestinian Farmers, General Union of Palestinian Teachers, General Union of Palestinian Writers, Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), Union of Professional Associations, General Union of Palestinian Peasants, Union of Public Employees in Palestine-Civil Sector, Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW), National Committee for Grassroots Resistance, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba, Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Coalition for Jerusalem, Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations, Palestinian Economic Monitor, Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps, Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative
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Wed, 06 Aug 2014 10:44:23 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=122
Dynamic Systems Theory http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=121 Innovations Laboratory

ACTION Steering Committee representative, Richard Smith, participated in the Dynamic Systems Theory Innovations Laboratory co-hosted by the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4), the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR) at Columbia University, and The Institute of World Affairs (IWA) at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Over the past decade, scholars and practitioners have been working to employ new insights and methods from complexity science, dynamical systems and network theory to study and address violence, conflict and sustainable peace. During 2012, a core group of scholars and practitioners convened to further this work through sharing – from both science and practice – the latest findings and challenges from work in this area. 

The general goals of the Innovation Lab are to create opportunities, structures and support mechanisms to bring together experienced scholar-practitioners working with complexity science, conflict and peace to share leading-edge ideas, methods and practices and to inspire and support collaborative work in this area for moving the work forward.

Lab 2014 convened in Honolulu, Hawaii from July 20 – 25 with an expanded group of scholars and practitioners. This event was a follow-up to the Lab 2013 that convened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

The 2014 Lab focused on four thematic areas:

1) complexity mapping and visualization;

2) resonance identification and utilization;

3) institutionalization of dynamical systems attitudes, behaviors and structures; and

4) learning and non-linear impact assessment.

The relevance of Dynamic Systems Theory to practitioners working in the field of conflict transformation is particularly apparent in our analysis of the interconnections between conflict dynamics at different levels and in different contexts. Designing complex integrated strategies to engage with and influence these dynamics also benefits from systems thinking. The innovations in the areas of evaluation and impact assessment, which suggest that linear, results-based thinking is not helpful, are also useful.

Much of the Lab confirms our programming as conflict transformation practitioners. Multiple interventions in multiple directions are required to have an overall effect on the conflict systems affecting people in communities. Connecting interventions at community level to efforts aimed at influencing the wider systems and structures at national, regional, continental and even global levels appears to resonate with theories on systems thinking.

The 2014 Lab also provided a useful opportunity to learn more about the local context of Hawaii. Far from the stereotypical image of the islands as a resort of surfing laid back leisure seekers there is a vibrant civil society actively involved in addressing the myriad of social, economic and political concerns faced by communities. 

The context is also affected by the presence in Hawaii of the largest US military base in the world and a strong and vibrant network of activists working to de-colonise the decades long occupation and dispossession that has taken place. While these challenges to the overarching systems are seen as threatening and have been consistently repressed, the structural violence that has characterised external involvement in Hawaiian affairs cannot be ignored. It will be interesting to follow political developments over the next few months and explore ways of deepening solidarity with those involved in what is clearly a long-term struggle for peace and justice.

There was a lot of resonance between the traditional Hawaiian values associated with concepts of Aloha and Oluolu and the African philosophy of Ubuntu. This suggests that the synergies between the local struggles of groups in Hawaii and of the Pan-African Solidarity movement are well worth exploring further.

Anyone interested in following up on any of the content areas covered by the Lab is encouraged to take a deeper look on the website: http://conflictinnovationlab.org.

For those with an interest in the political, social and economic context of Hawaii please take a look at www.hawaiianperspectives.org.

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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:56:31 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=121
The Global Week of Action for Democracy in Swaziland http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=120 The ASC, through the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, is standing in solidary with others to call for respect of human rights, democracy and freedom for political prisoners in Swaziland, and will be supporting the upcoming global week of action in September.

The Global week of Action for Democracy in Swaziland, is an annual global campaign in which all human rights and democracy loving Swazis and internationals draw attention to and critique the so called independence of Swaziland, the last absolute Monarchy in the World. Not many people know that in Swaziland the constitution falls under the King who still has the power to rule by decree. The complete lack of democracy, respect for basic human rights, good governance and rule of law has continued to define the face of Swazi politics for the last 41 painful years. There is a 63% poverty rate and a 52% unemployment rate coupled with a deep-seated economic divide between the filthy rich, royally connected few and the scavenging powerless commoners , which has widened to skull breaking levels of late. The imminent threat of the loss of more than 20,000 textile jobs due to the defiance of his majesty`s government, promises to exacerbate this dire situation to levels unheard off in the history of this great nation.

Aims of Global week :

1. To educate every patriotic Swazi about his or her moral and political duty to act in dire situations like today

2. To rally the region, continent and world at large about the urgent need to isolate his majesty`s Government, and demand the return of AGOA, the release of all prisoners of conscience, the return of exiles and most importantly, the democratization of our beloved country Swaziland.  

Table of Activities

1. March on the 4th of September in Mbabane demanding 5000 new Jobs every year for the next five years

2. March on the 5th   in Manzini demanding the  return of AGOA and respect of rule of law

3. Sports Bonanza On 6th in Manzini  in honor of fallen Swazi revolutionary Martyrs  


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:53:58 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=120
The ACTION team celebrates Mandela Day http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=119

On Friday 19th July, the ACTION Support Centre, in partnership with Lancet Laboratories, Jozi FM and City of Johannesburg rolled up their sleeves to go do community service at the Golden Ark Drop in Centre in Mzimhlophe, Soweto. This was done in honour of the internationally celebrated Mandela Day. The ACTION team and other partners assisted in the renovations of the Centre which included painting, gardening, cleaning and installing new shelves and a new play area for the kids. The Golden Ark Drop in Centre caters for over 180 destitute children by providing them with a meal before and after school, assisting them with homework and childhood development, as well as providing temporary shelter. We, as the ACTION team, felt very honoured and privileged to be part of this day and make a small difference to the children of the Golden Ark Drop in Centre. We look forward to celebrating Mandela Day next year and trust that our partners, the ACTION Support Team and local peace committees will join us in continuing the legacy of the late former president Mr Nelson Mandela. 

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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:52:52 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=119
Mapping Infrastructures for Peace in Africa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=118 The ACTION Support Centre has recently conducted a research project with the funding support of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa and the Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery. The research project was aimed at carrying out a mapping exercise to identify the existing Infrastructures for Peace (IfP), Insider Mediators and local capacities for peace. It also involved carrying out a light technical assessment of their institutional and operational capacities. 

The mapping exercise was carried out in twenty-three African countries from various Regional Economic Communities (RECs). These included the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Economic Commission for Central African States (ECCAS), the East African Communities (EAC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD). 

The mapping project was carried out in support of the call from the African Union Peace and Security Council to build an African Peace and Security Architecture. The output of the research project was consolidated into a published document that will be shared during the joint UNDP-AU Insiders' Mediators’ retreat for the involvement of National Infrastructures for Peace in the PanWise UNDP-AUC retreat. 


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:51:33 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=118
ACTION to open an office in Cape Town http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=117

Photo credits 

The ACTION Support Centre is in the process of finalising arrangements to open a satellite office in Cape Town. With our newly appointed Inter-religious Research and Relations Facilitator, Steven Leach, and with Steering Committee Chair Fatima Swartz both based in Cape Town, as well as a lot of interest in the ASC catalysed through our engagement at the WRI conference, it makes strategic sense to have a physical space in the City. It will serve as a central focal point for ACTION members, supporters and programmes based in and around the area, and from which local activities can be organized.

The Cape Town office will be based at the District 6 Museum, an institution committed to remembering the legacy of a community uprooted and forcibly removed by the Apartheid System.  We aim to launch the new office in August 2014.


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:49:52 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=117
Ceasefire Strategic Planning Meeting http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=116 Members of the ACTION Support Centre attended Ceasefire’s strategic planning meeting on Friday 25th of July. Ceasefire is a long-standing partner of ASC, focusing on demilitarization, arms reduction and peace and non-violence education and advocacy. ACTION attended in support of Ceasefire and to be aware of future plans and programmes so as to see where the organizational goals may converge and projects that may have the potential for collaboration.

The meeting took the form of an in-depth analysis of the organization and it’s programmes in order to identify the strongest opportunities for future work, and to brainstorm strategies and plan the way ahead. The discussions were fruitful, and a number of key decisions were made that will be followed up with a meeting to operationalize the ideas, which will then form the basis of activity over the next 6-12 months. 

ACTION looks forward to continuing to partner with Ceasefire, and enjoy a productive, mutually-supportive relationship.


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:47:16 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=116
Pan African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network Consolidated http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=115 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.


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:46:24 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=115
The African Solidarity Caravan attracts interest at the WRI Conference http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=114 Tapping into the opportunity presented by a gathering of more than 300 conflict transformation practitioners and solidarity activists for the War Resistors International Conference, the ACTION Support Centre organised an evening Caravan information sharing and planning session. 

The African Solidarity Caravan planning meeting at the WRI conference sought to mobilise support for the Caravan throughout the continent. This process involved sharing information on the Caravan, ideas around some planned events and how activists can be involved in the Caravan. More than 21 activists from around Africa gathered for this session.

Everyone who would like to contribute to the African Solidarity Caravan is encouraged to think of ideas that can be implemented in their local contexts. These events can range from a discussion forum, to a public expression of African Solidarity, a march, a picket, a spoken word poetry competition, any event that you think will assist in building momentum behind the ideas of African Solidarity.  Submissions of activities around the Caravan have started and these will be posted on the Proudly African website. Anyone interested is encouraged to submit their proposed activities to philani@asc.org.za . 

#AfricanSolidarityCaravan #ProudlyAfriCan


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:45:20 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=114
Gender and Militarism Consultation http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=113 Analyzing the links to Strategize for Peace

“To omit gender from any explanation of how militarization occurs, is not only to risk a flawed political analysis; it is to risk, too, a perpetually unsuccessful campaign to roll back that militarism” – Cynthia Enloe

From the 2nd to the 4th of July members of ASC attended the global consultation on gender and militarism in Cape Town, hosted by the Women’s Peacemaker Program (WPP). At the conference there were activists, journalists, academics and practitioners from across the world who came together to share analyses of the connections between gender and militarism, focusing on how feminism and gendered perspectives can inform our understanding of the military, and the importance of this understanding for non-violence efforts and the integration of gender in the peace and security agenda.

The background against which the conference took place was described by WPP as follows:

Following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in October 2000; UNSCR 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960 and 2122 have been passed, moving issues concerning women and armed conflict onto the international peace and security agenda. Despite these resolutions, actual implementation of the WPS agenda remains a challenge.

One gap that WPP has identified relates to the fact that the WPS agenda is often formulated and perceived as an agenda aimed at making women and women’s realities part of the existing peace and security framework. Though of utmost importance, “1325” should not go without analyzing the current peace and security framework through a critical gender lens as well. This involves looking at gender beyond a narrow focus on women, and includes integrating a masculinities perspective in the WPS agenda. Such a focus reveals UNSCR 1325’s transformational potential, whereby a feminist perspective on peace and security not only calls attention for the links between gender and militarism and its many manifestations in society; it also underlines the importance of human security and investing in alternative conflict resolution models.

A number of presenters shared on topics, including the history of the feminist movement in the peace and security agenda, analyses of UNSCR 1325, the opportunities and challenges of media and technology as transformative tools, and the importance of the post-2015 development agenda as an opportunity to shape future policy. 

One of the highlights was a presentation by Anand Pawar, director of SAMYAK, India, who gave an analysis of the patriarchal structures that pervade society, and juxtaposed them with feminist and non-violent alternatives. He aligned masculinity, macroeconomics and the military by their shared values and characteristics, such as power, dominance, destruction, hierarchy, etc. He pointed out that these characteristics are often in opposition to those held by the fields of feminism, peace and sustainability, which share values such as equality, human rights, forgiveness, and so on. However, because of the dominance of the former set of masculine characteristics, and their perceived superiority, non-violent peace movements are seen as inferior, and less effective, often being labeled “soft” and “feminine”. The result is that these approaches are disregarded in favour of agendas more aligned with masculine traits, such as military interventions.

Another particularly poignant presentation, which takes on special significance given the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza, was a visual presentation on the theme of militarism and every day life in Israel. Presenters from New Profile, Israel, highlighted ways in which the military has permeated the fabric of every day life for Israelis, illustrated by an exhibition of photographs, ads and other graphics. Among them was an educational counting exercise in which children had to draw a line between illustrations of military items and the corresponding number. Another image shows a wedding photograph of a joyful bride with an artillery piece in the background. Adverts depict the glamourized male soldier, and other photographs illustrate the ways in which parents raise their children to be soldiers. The full exhibition can be found online here .

Some of the major challenges identified for integrating feminist perspectives in a peace and security framework centered around the experience that feminist perspectives are less valued than military solutions, and that UNSCR 1325, although a good foundation for the involvement of women in peace and security, has had minimal impact, with participants reporting from their respective countries that it has often been more about collecting statistics than looking at transformative processes, it has drained capacities away from the ground, and has essentially failed to challenge the militarized framework. Other challenges included restrictive regulations, such as the financial FATF regulations, which can limit or slow down NGO activities, internet policing and measures that work against activists, and the danger that the trend towards internet and social media campaigns may encourage ‘slacktivism’.

However, there are also a number of opportunities and strategy suggestions that came out of the meetings. For example, a major point of agreement was that UNSCR 1325 could benefit from some extra work. An opportunity for this will be the review of the resolution performed by the UN Security Council in 2015, which will be based on a global impact study. Recommendations were made that the focus should be on impact and real change, with less process and more results, a push to emphasize the political urgency, the provision of adequate resources to enforce it, the creation of space for the voices of civil society and women’s movements to shape the resolution, and, of course, a shift away from militaristic solutions. The post-2015 development agenda, which is still under discussion and thus open to formative input, is also a key opportunity to integrate gender and non-violence perspectives. For example, Abigail Ruane (WILPF) pointed out that those countries furthest from the MDGs are the ones with most conflict, and research by Åsa Ekvall has found the best indicators of violent conflict are women’s security, family law and polygamy. A final point was that as war affects both men and women, so both men and women should be part of the solution at all levels.

You can find the full policy brief that came out of the consultation here.


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:43:34 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=113
War Resisters International Conference http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=112 The Continuum of Non-violence

ASC played a supporting role at the WRI Conference in Cape Town from the 4th -8th of July, which drew practitioners from all over the world to engage on key issues around the theme of ‘The continuum of non-violence’. The core focus of the conference was on discussing non-violent means to tackle oppression and destructive conflicts and on building strategies and partnerships. 

The conference opened to dancing and signing, and a welcome by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The days that followed were filled with theme groups and workshops on a variety of topics relating to non-violence, peacebuilding and opposition to war. Some of the theme groups attended by ACTION members included: “non-violence training”; “civil resistance and ‘people power’ movements: beyond regime change”; “resisting the war on mother earth”;  “nonviolent community struggle”, “transnational solidarity” and “peacebuilding”. 

The workshops also covered a broad spectrum of topics, with ASC members attending ones on “Peace and conflict in the republic of South Sudan”; “Who controls the arms controllers?”; “The danger to Africa, the Middle East and the World of the US Diego Garcia military base on Mauritian, thus African land”; “BDS For Palestinian Rights: What Role can South Africa Play?”; “Democracy as a catalyst and foundation for peace and security in the Great Lakes Region”; “Freedom from Violence: Peace, Security and Conflict Prevention in the Post-2015 Development agenda”; “AVP training”; “Tzedakah and Ubuntu: Ancient Roots to Modern Solidarity”; “Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience – USA to South Africa and beyond”. ACTION Steering Committee representatives, Fatima Swartz and Richard Smith, facilitated a workshop on “Transforming Conflict Systems”.

It was encouraging to see such a large number of practitioners from across the world come together to exchange experiences and lessons from differing contexts. A common sentiment that emerged from the meetings was the importance of organisations and activists working together and supporting each other in the shared struggle to promote nonviolent solutions to conflict. It was in this spirit that names and numbers were exchanged, emailing lists drawn up and new global and regional networks formed or consolidated. 

Correspondence between attendees has continued after the conference, with participants sharing messages, statements and resources. The connections made promise to be an ongoing source of solidarity, experience sharing, and mutual support.

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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:37:29 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=112
Inspiring Peacebuilders: Launch of the ACTION Support Team http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=111

The ACTION Support Team launched its activities on the 19th July 2014.  The workshop, under the theme “Inspiring Peacebuilders” was held at Stay City, Berea in Johannesburg, and was attended by 23 ACTION Support members.

The workshop was dynamic, enthusiastic and participative, as it explored the various initiatives that ACTION is involved in. Amongst other things, the African Solidarity Caravan was one of the initiatives that attracted most interest from the ACTION Support Team members. 

They also enjoyed a screening of a video celebrating ten years of ACTION‘s work. The video introduced the participants to the concept of conflict transformation, and how it is applicable in different communities and environments. ACTION Support Team members acknowledged the necessity to transform conflict, and made suggestions and contributions to the discussion.

Members agreed that it is important for the ACTION Support Team to meet often, and draw up a calendar of events, so that they can collectively contribute to ACTION’s various interesting and inspiring initiatives. 

The next ACTION Support Team workshop will take place on 19th and 20th August 2014, and all are welcome to join.

For more information please contact Ulrich Bouelangoye, 011 482 7442/2453 ulrich@asc.org.za 


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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:34:22 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=111
Technology, Engaged Citizens and early Warning-Response Systems http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=110 The ACTION Support Centre is conducting one of four research projects that were selected in the first call for proposals by the Making All Voices Count initiative (MAVC), making it one of 29 projects selected from over 540 proposals. The research project, “From Early Warning to Response in Preventing Violence: Transforming Conflict Through Citizen Engagement”, draws on the broad contextual knowledge of three ASC partners: the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre, People’s Voice for Peace (Gulu, Uganda), and Local Peace Committees in Gauteng. In addition, the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies (CPRS) is joining in as the research partner on the project.

In line with ASC’s overarching vision and mission, and reflecting research on the intersections of technology and development, our research will be grounded in human relationships and interpersonal engagement. Through a conflict transformation process, we will learn from our partners about opportunities and challenges for technological and communications innovations in warning-response systems. Our research aim is to provide helpful analysis and guidance to improve warning-response communications between engaged citizens on the ground and those with the potential to respond to citizen concerns, such as government, other policy makers and civil society.

Since May, we have been coordinating with our partners to build energy behind the project, to establish and refine our collective inquiry, and to coordinate visits. Starting in September, ACTION facilitators will begin work with the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre through a weeklong engagement. Community leaders, youth, religious leaders, and many others will shape our interaction, deepening our understanding by sharing their experiences. Their reflections will guide the project, as we learn what research questions are important to them and as we collaboratively develop strategies for inquiry and change.

Similar visits will occur as we begin work with People’s Voice for Peace and the Local Peace Committees in Gauteng. At present, ASC and CPRS are reviewing relevant literature, establishing a preliminary research approach, and strategizing to bring our eventual findings to policy makers, academics, and funders. The first audience of our research, however, will be our local partners, and it is their voices we hope to reflect and amplify. To that end, we are in conversation with our three partners about what sort of research outputs will be most useful to support and advance their work. With the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre, for example, we will research the existing communications infrastructure in order to strategize and support the music video-based campaigns of their youth drama club.

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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:31:02 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=110
Israel and Gaza: A call to Action http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=109 As violence escalates with devastating impacts on the people of Gaza, concerned citizens all over the world are involving themselves in responding to the intensifying crisis. Small actions such as sharing articles on Facebook are adding weight to those taking to the streets in protest, joining BDS movements and heightening the pressure on the Israeli government and its defense force. In many places civil society is working alongside governments who are putting pressure on Israeli diplomats and sending high level envoys seeking to influence an end, or at least a reduction, to the violence.

With pro-Israel as well as pro-Palestine supporters striving to make their voices heard, often in significant numbers, the conflict is being brought home to countries all over the world, threatening outbreaks of violence rooted in tensions hundreds or thousands of miles away, and demanding that everybody play a part in ending the violence. With the legacy of apartheid imprinted on South African history, and the growing calls to act against Apartheid Israel, South Africa should be well positioned to build bridges for dialogue across the Israel/Palestinian divide.

A delegation of high-level South African envoys have been sent to the Middle East to share lessons from our own history, while back at home in Johannesburg, Cape Town and across the country, marches and protests have been held. The small but active Jewish community in South Africa is also getting caught up in the debates, with many mistakenly interpreting the protests against Israeli aggression as being opposed to the state of Israel or against Jewish people in general. There is an enormous need to separate out Zionism from Judaism and for us to find ways of building an inter-faith coalition opposed to violence in all its forms, unified in its call for an end to the occupation and the violations of international humanitarian law and forward looking in its efforts to steer people away from the notion that violence is justified or effective under the current circumstances.

The ASC is supporting the activities organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, including support for the BDS campaign, while at the same time discussing other innovative ways of preventing the further polarization of South African society whilst encouraging dialogue, awareness raising and bridge-building amongst progressive voices intent on finding solutions to the unacceptable erosion of our common humanity.

We also share with you a call for justice from the Palestinian Civil Society, and implore you to join in taking non-violent action to end the oppression and violence in Gaza:

Call from Palestine: Free Gaza, Hold Israel Accountable

To those who understand the interconnectedness of our many human struggles for justice and dignity, we in the Palestinian Civil Society implore you to act in solidarity as Gaza burns and bleeds, gathers and buries the lifeless bodies of her children, and contends with carnage and loss for which there is no language. The Gaza Strip is 139 square miles packed with 1.8 million people (1.2 million of whom are refugees ethnically cleansed by Israel between 1947-1950). This open-air prison has been suffocating under a deadly siege imposed by Israel for years and accommodated by the Egyptian government under pressure from the USA. A UN report before the latest assault said the Strip will be unlivable by 2020 but these attacks may bring that date sooner. Further, Gaza has been subjected to repeated massacres as Israel uses the small strip as testing grounds for its latest weaponry (funded by US taxpayers).  According to the ministry of health, in its latest assault on the people of Gaza, Israeli occupation forces murdered 1283 and injured 7170 human beings (80% of them civilians, >200 children). Entire families are wiped out almost every day by Israel’s relentless bombing of civilian areas. Even before this latest assault, Israel has declared 20% of Gaza off-limits to human habitation and has demolished homes and agricultural fields in those areas. Now Israel has doubled this scorched earth area to be 40% of Gaza (182,000 displaced). We watch in horror as Israeli occupation forces destroyed mosques, schools, hospitals, agricultural areas, industries, and even the only power station in Gaza. We ask people of conscience to contact media and politicians to ensure that Israel is not immune from compliance with International Humanitarian Law. We also ask for expansion of campaigns of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). Hundreds of thousands around the world demonstrated for Gaza and we are grateful. But more actions at this stage are needed to prevent large-scale genocide and human catastrophe in Gaza. As Gaza is forced into darkness and devastation, we must speak on her behalf. Our friends and family members in Gaza call on you to demand the lifting of the siege on Gaza, the immediate provision of medical and humanitarian aid, and holding Israel accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Facebook links below contain information about activities in support of Gaza being organised in Cape Town, South Africa, by Jewish Voices for a Just Peace. It is interesting and inspiring to see activists from the Jewish community take a stand for Gaza, and we encourage those of you in and around Cape Town to join these activities. For those of you in other parts of the world, we encourage you to join local efforts in your area to support the people of Gaza.

https://www.facebook.com/events/603008096484493/ 

https://www.facebook.com/events/262165200657949/ 

We also recommend this newsletter for information and updates: http://lists.qumsiyeh.org/listinfo/humanrights

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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:27:15 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=109
Farewell Anisa and Suzanne http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=108

ACTION enjoyed having Anisa and Suzanne from the University of Edinburgh with us for 2 months. They slotted into the team well and were active in contributing to many of the various projects that ACTION is involved in, as well as performing research for their studies. 

Anisa also assisted in the ASC work with SASOWNET. As a diaspora Somali with a fluent grasp of the language, she helped build relationships with both old and new members of SASOWNET, and acted as a liaison for the organization of meetings and events. Suzanne worked closely with Pretty, the ASC community liaison for Local Peace Committees. She spent a great deal of time visiting Alexandra, attending meetings and engaging in discussions to build on her research and contributing to the broader ASC programme in support of stronger local forms of organisation.

The research outputs that Anisa and Suzanne are expected to produce promise to be useful resources to inform future work with SASOWNET and the LPCs.

They describe their personal experiences below;

Suzanne: 

My time at ACTION was definitely exciting and eye opening. My work here at ACTION consisted or two main elements: the work at the ACTION office and my research in the Alexandra community. In the first weeks I was mostly busy with getting to know the organisation and the work being done at the ACTION office. In our first week we attended the Applied Conflict Transformation course and the two weeks after that we were very busy with the organisation of the African Solidarity Caravan events during Africa Week. Furthermore, I have been involved in using social media, writing reports and pieces for newsletters, as well as contributing to writing a grant application and making a promotion video for the Africa Solidarity Caravan. All in all, I believe I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about working within an NPO setting, and the staff at the ACTION office has kindly taken the time to introduce me to these things. 

Besides my work at ACTION, I have also been researching the Local Peace Committees in Alexandra that ACTION have supported in the past couple of years. In this aspect of my work I learned many things, both about the context of Alexandra, as well as about doing qualitative research. It was challenging for me at first to find a frame of research that would fit within the work of ACTION, fit within the university requirements as well as benefit the community. However, the people in Alexandra were extremely helpful, and kindly took the time to tell me their histories and opinions on conflict and opportunities for Local Peace Committees in the community of Alexandra. It has been interesting and inspiring to listen to the stories of the challenges encountered in Alex, but mainly to listen to the stories about ways that people have found to overcome those challenges. In short, my time here in South Africa has been very valuable, and I am looking forward to incorporating the newly gained insights into my dissertation and my future. A big thanks to ACTION and the people I talked to in Alexandra for giving me this opportunity!

Anisa:

As part of my MSc program at the University of Edinburgh I had to undertake a work-based placement project with a development organization. ACTION Support centre provided just such an opportunity for me. In my first week after arrival I was fortunate to start my placement by attending the Applied Conflict Transformation course, which is held by ACTION every three months. The course allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the values and the commitment ACTION has to conflict transformation in Africa and beyond. Thereafter I was based at the office where I was very warmly welcomed by a friendly, hard working team who made me feel part of the team right away. In addition, my placement coincided with the launch of the African Solidarity Caravan and Africa Day celebration, which was a deeply enriching experience. However, My placement at ACTION mainly consisted of conducting research to produce a piece of work which was both suitable for ACTION and met the requirement for my MSc thesis. In addition, ACTION give me the opportunity to do some office based work such as writing reports, newsletters and assisting in event planning.

When I was not at the office I was out and about in Mayfair doing research. I had the pleasure of working with the South African Somali Women’s Network, and the discussions I had with the ladies were very informative, and an eye-opening experience for me. They taught me a lot, not only with regard to my research but also personally. Amongst other things I was very impressed with their survival strategies in such a challenging environment. I very much appreciated all the help and support I received from the Somali women in Mayfair, which made the research project a pleasant process. My work with the Somali women in Mayfair has been an unforgettable experience; it’s one that will stay with me forever. I am grateful to ACTION for giving me this experience, and a special thanks to Richard and everyone at the office for making my stay easy and enjoyable. 

We will miss having them as part of our team, but wish them well as they return to Edinburgh to complete their studies.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:18:06 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=108
Burma Workshop: Protect the Rohingya http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=107 A plea for one of the most persecuted groups in the world 

On Thursday 12th June, Cosatu House in partnership with the Protect Rohingya organisation hosted a workshop on the persecution of the Rohingya people.  The workshop was facilitated by Advocate Shabnam Mayet and David P Karmes who have both been very influential in raising awareness about the plight of the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority, alongside the Free Burma Campaign, South Africa who have been building solidarity for many years. 

The workshop highlighted that the Rohingya people are an embattled ethnic group that have fallen victim to the Burmese Government’s ethnic cleansing campaign. While ethnic violence is not new to the Rohingya, the recent level of intensity and persecution has led the United Nations to label them one of the most persecuted groups in the world today.  

The workshop encouraged all individuals to contact their organizations, political affiliations, members of parliaments, ministers and officials to show solidarity and concern for the well being of the Rohingya people as well as sign petitions, donate, fundraise and raise awareness in order to prevent what seems to be nearing a genocide. 

The strong connections between the ACTION Support Centre and our sister organisation the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia, who are actively involved in support of the peace processes in Myanmar, and in working alongside several Burmese civil society groups, makes this initiative all the more relevant to the long term transformation agenda of the ACTION Support Centre.


Photo Credits: Photograph by UNHCR/ACNUR Américas licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:14:25 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=107
BRICS Policy Dialogue http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=106 BRICS Bank – Transforming the International Financial Landscape?

On the 19th of June 2014, Oxfam funded a meeting of the South Africa Network on Inequality (SANI), network of localy funded Oxfam partners, and the South Africa Forum for International Solidarity (SAFIS), an INGO supported formation that is trying to establish itself as a legitimate solidarity voice within South African civil society. 

The one-day policy dialogue on BRICS brought civil society organisations, academics, activists and individuals together to share insights on BRICS and also discuss some of the challenges that BRICS poses to the continent as a whole. The main focus of the discussion was to raise awareness amongst civil society organisations and individuals and to explore opportunities to engage with government to discuss the implications of the BRICS bank and other BRICS initiatives, including how BRICS intends to function in Africa, taking into considerations some of the challenges that the continent is facing.

In July 2014, a new multilateral and Southern-led development bank is expected to be launched by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – better known as the BRICS. The BRICS Development Bank will provide a fresh source of finance for developing and emerging economies to meet their development needs. Little has been made public regarding the proposed Bank’s core mandate or activities but while governments negotiate the technicalities of the Bank, it is critical that they also provide a solid vision of the principles, priorities and objectives on which the Bank’s activities and operations will be premised. Some of the issues identified include commitments to ending extreme poverty and inequality, with a special focus on gender equity and women’s rights; aligning with environmental and social safeguards and establishing mechanisms for information sharing, accountability and redress, leadership on the sustainable development agenda, the creation of mechanisms for public consultation and debate, and the adoption of a truly democratic governance structure.

It was argued that the association of five major emerging national economies -  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) - has a special responsibility towards helping the world achieve its goal of ending extreme poverty, reducing inequality and achieving sustainable development, as they collectively represent some of the world’s greatest challenges and achievements. But given the fact that these countries are competing for raw materials, markets and trade, it remains to be seen if they truly have the best interests of the continent at heart. Despite remarkable strides made in reducing poverty within India and China, BRICS countries still house nearly half of the world’s poor and – with the exception of Brazil – have experienced a rise in inequality in recent years. The creation of a BRICS Bank, and with it the promise of reforming the global development architecture, offers a real and concrete opportunity for governments of these countries to ensure development financing is sensitive to the needs of those who are poorest and most marginalized. If the BRICS Bank fights poverty and inequality it could be a big success. But if it focuses only on big-ticket schemes that fail to directly benefit poor people it could do more harm than good.

The opportunities to build stronger civil society partnerships with the BRICS initiative, and to input into and learn more from events like the BRICS Summit will be further explored by the ASC. These efforts should be led by Southern based civil society organisations and calls should be made to northern INGOs to allow space for these formations to find their own voice, avoiding the past mistakes of dominant well resourced groupings like Oxfam who have sometimes been accusedof speaking on behalf of people without any clear mandate or accountability mechanisms in place. 


Photo Credits: “BRICS Business Council” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:12:13 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=106
The Swaziland Democracy Campaign http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=105 ACTION takes action for the release of political prisoners in Swaziland 

The SDC South Africa Chapter is engaged in a series of meetings and consultations with key activists and organisations in South Africa and across the region that seek to build sustained regional solidarity with the struggle for freedom by the people of Swaziland. 

This emerged from growing concerns about the state of freedom of expression, judicial independence, and rule of law in the Kingdom of Swaziland, including arbitrary arrests and detentions of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, independent journalist Bheki Makhubu, and several political activists such as PUDEMO President Mario Masuku and student leader Maxwell
Dlamini.

A series of events will be organised in South Africa and across the region to respond to this, which will include the launch of a ‘Free Mario and all detained political activists’ campaign, solidarity visits, and robust preparations for the Global Week of Action in September this year. 

The ASC joins the clarion call with progressive forces in Swaziland, Africa and around the world for an immediate release of all political prisoners detained in Swaziland, respect for life and human rights and the beginning of a process that seeks to democratise all fundamental institutions in Swaziland. The ASC is already working on reviving the SDC website.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:09:29 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=105
SASOWNET : New Horizons http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=104 A time for change, growth and new ideas for the South African Somali Women’s Network

On the 14th of June ACTION held a meeting with the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET). The meeting took place in a restaurant in Mayfair, and was attended by 9 women, including both new and old SASOWNET members. 

The meeting was primarily convened to introduce Fatima Hassan as the new coordinator of SASOWNET in Gauteng. The opportunity was also used to discuss SASOWNET plans and future strategies. The group agreed to strengthen their membership and group cohesion within Johannesburg. In addition, the members agreed on the need to galvanise the support of the youth as part of strengthening the network.  

Furthermore, the women agreed to stay a little longer to form a discussion group as part of a research project that was being conducted by Anisa Omar, a student from the University of Edinburgh, who was interning with ACTION at the time. The research project will also help to inform the future work of ACTION with SASOWNET.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:07:26 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=104
Policy Engagement on Post-2015 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=103 “Governance, peace and security are important to measure – and they are measurable”. This was the conclusion reached by African statistical offices already producing statistics on these issues, at a meeting held at the African Union on 11-12 June, which brought together 90 experts, including representatives from 24 African National Statistical Offices, data specialists on peace and governance, African Union Commission (AUC) officials, policymakers, civil society organizations and UN agencies.

The ACTION Support Centre was represented at the meeting and made input into the discussions aimed at taking forward the Post-2015 Development Agenda component of our work.

Drawing on pioneering work on statistics on governance, peace, and security currently taking place in the region, including the AUC’s Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa’s (SHaSA) Group on Governance, Peace and Security (GPS), the City Group on Governance, Peace and  Security statistics, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), Ushahidi and the G7+ grouping, the consultation reviewed the formulation of peace, governance, and rule of law targets proposed by the UN’s Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals, proposed measurable and relevant indicators, and discussed emerging innovative data collection methods. The meeting also served to inform ongoing efforts by the AUC to define specific targets and indicators aligned with the Peace and Security pillar of the Common African Position on the post-2015 Agenda. 

By showcasing the emerging success in Africa of the SHaSA GPS group and other initiatives, the meeting showed that measurement of progress in these areas is not only feasible in a wide range of country contexts, but also in high demand by the political leadership of many countries. SHaSA and other African-owned and led initiatives support the call for a ‘data revolution’ as a central tenet of the post-2015 development agenda. They also offer important models to examine in the context of goal 16 proposed by the OWG, on “Achieving peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, effective and capable institutions.”

The consultation was co-organized by the Statistical Division of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Development Programme, and Saferworld in collaboration with the African Development Bank, UN Economic Commission for Africa, UN Women, UN Office for Drugs and Crime, UN Peacebuilding Support Office with support from the Government of Finland. 

A full report on the outcomes of the meeting is available on request from the ACTION Support Centre.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:02:08 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=103
Making All Voices Count - Community of Practice http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=102 Joining forces to innovate and influence change

On Tuesday 17th June the Making All Voices Count South African grantee organisations met to establish a Community of Practice (CoP). The Community of Practice includes seven projects that will each be focused on innovation, scaling or researching.  The CoP will link together representatives from multiple networks of learning, mentoring and brokering of innovations at country level. This includes MAVC grantees, media actors, opinion formers (e.g. researchers, NGOs, local CSOs and CBOs), policy influencers, policymakers, donors, philanthropic investors in parallel fields such as open government, civic innovation and potentially sectorial networks within each of these fields.    

The Community of Practice will serve as a platform for learning and sharing between the grantees and partners of the Making All Voices Count project. The MAVC CoP seeks to encourage critical reflection among grantees as well as promote an on-going and effective learning environment.  This involves generating a shared set of challenges and experiences through a structured process; highlighting what does not work and why, as well as what works and why, and take lessons learned to improve current and future programmes or operations. Also key to the establishment of the Community of Practice is identifying the different synergies that exist in the projects and how they can provide opportunities of work and partnerships in future. 

One of the outcomes of the first CoP meeting is to have all MAVC grantees conduct a stakeholder analysis to identify appropriate in-country government departments or champions of voice and accountability that are relevant for their MAVC Program or target audiences. The ACTION Support Centre looks forward to making partnerships, and working together with the various partners involved. 


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:04 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=102
The Way Forward in Alexandra Township http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=101 ACTION and Alexandra Local Peace Committee join discussions about the future of Alexandra

In the past couple of weeks, ACTION has been attending meetings and talking to people within Alexandra extensively. ACTION was involved in the launch of the Local Peace Committee in Alexandra in 2010, and is now seeking to strengthen the network of activists involved in conflict transformation in the township. As such, ACTION’s community liaison officer, Pretty Mncube and one of our interns from the University of Edinburgh, Suzanne Tossings, attended the Greater Alexandra Development Forum (GADF) meeting on Saturday the 7th of June. This formed part of an ongoing series of support visits to Alexandra to talk to local community leaders, meet with people in the municipality and engage people involved with the local peace committee about the way forward. 

During the GADF meeting the main issues discussed were the development of the GADF over the past 1.5 years, the plans of the Johannesburg Development Agency (under which the ARP – Alexandra Renewal Project – is now located), and specifically the new plans of the JDA with regards to the extension of the Rea Vaya to Alexandra. People gave their frank opinions openly, challenging the GADF and its progress on the Nelson Mandela heritage centre – a project started over 10 years ago and yet to be finished. Besides frank opinions, there was also room for celebration. Alex FM was applauded for obtaining five awards at the MDDA Sanlam Media Awards and Alex TV was congratulated on being awarded a broadcasting license. 

During the GADF meeting and the different meetings we held in the township, it became clear that Alex is still facing challenges, although there is a definite drive among the people to  improve the situation in the township, and ACTION is looking forward to supporting initiatives that will help build a united and peaceful Alexandra.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:56:03 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=101
Crisis in the Central African Republic: What role can South Africa and http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=100 Building Peace through African Solidarity

ACTION Support Centre attended a meeting on the 24th June 2014 hosted by DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS/MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES (MSF) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Participants discussed what role South Africa and civil society can play with regards to the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). Not only does this initiative promote people to people solidarity, but it also calls for continental bodies and agencies to engage more effectively with the escalating crisis in support of efforts to bring about peace and stability in the country.

The discussion started with a briefing from Sylvain Groulx, MSF Head of Mission in CAR, 2012-2014. He argued that the CAR crisis is not, in fact, a religious crisis, but rather a result of poor governance, growing frustrations due to poor service delivery, and degrading state capacity building.

He also highlighted that since CAR independence in 1960, the country has not managed to develop sustainably due to numerous coup d’états. The situation escalated in 2012 with militias, rebels groups, and civilian armed groups fighting each other countrywide, leading to large-scale killings, gross human rights violations and large numbers of refugees being displaced to neighboring countries. 

While much of the analysis was useful placing an understanding of CAR within an historical context, and including an analysis of the competing interests of external forces and the connections they have to conflicting parties within CAR would add a useful and critical element to the overall understanding of the contemporary crisis and on the most effective strategies moving forward. 

The African Union, and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), along with France, have been unable to alter escalating violence. The peace agreements, dialogues and peacekeeping have been ineffective in delivering lasting peace and stability. There is growing interest in launching an appeal from South Africa, which is a major player in African diplomacy, and has played leading roles in peace deals and mediations on the continent. Furthermore, engaging South African civil society organisations through various advocacy activities for CAR, could lead to more responsive action from all stakeholders.

This initiative is a push for peace, through African solidarity, to end the crisis in CAR, and collectively act towards peace efforts in the continent. The ASC will be exploring ways in which a conflict transformation lens can assist in supporting and strengthening these collective efforts.


Photo credits: "Central African Republic: Torn Apart by Violence" by Photo Unit is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:47:24 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=100
My Poor Rich Africa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=99 My Poor Rich Africa

Clothed in wealth, yet dwell in poverty

Marred by years of slavery and pain

The tears and anger of colonization and apartheid

Have penetrated the depth of our souls

They have stained our hearts and robbed our hearts of love

They have raped of our thoughts, understanding and kindness

Leaving us covered with vengeance and hatred

Sadly directed towards our very own

Hunger and deprivation has left us with abundance of greed and self-entitlement

We have so much yet own nothing

Our soil has held enough blood that it has become dry in its retaliation

And therefore cannot bear us enough food

Pregnant with minerals, yet the sweat of excavation has left us more tired and most poor

Blessed with oil to saturation yet no joy has come out of its spew

The difference in the colour of our skin has burdened our lives

And in our lesson from the painful experience

We punish others for their difference in religion and sexuality

We withhold love from one another because of our location in our beautiful continent

My Poor Rich Africa, what a blessed curse we have become

Poem by Setou Lesego 

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Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:59:39 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=99
My Africa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=98 My Africa

Forgotten, like an undone daffodil - abandoned, like an unloved child - exploited, like an unworthy prostitute - and persecuted, like the unwanted Christ. The story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Bare-backed and broken she stumbled through the corridors of time. A shadow cast onto her former glory, her crown stolen by light-skinned brutes and her history unwritten by scholars faraway - her story is my story; the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Unrelenting in her will to hope, she raised giants; Shaka, Cetwayo, Selassie, Lumumba, Nkrumah, Fanon, Achibe, Mandela; her sons fighting an oppression so brutal it brought God to tears. Their story is my story, the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

The arc of history ever bending in her favour, she raised her shoulders; she began to walk. Wrestling with a night over three centuries old - she broke the yoke of slavery, she toppled colonialism. This story is my story, the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Unshaken and unbound, her bosom begins to blossom, her sun begins to shine. Her tears gleaming in the light, her legs running with might. Our daughter is now a woman - her young breasts now swell. "Renaissance" she shouts, "Revival" she screams, "Africa Rising" is her song and my story is her beat. Her rhythm is my rhythm, her story is my story; the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Undiminished in her drive - she still runs; pushing towards her vision of glory and dignity - she still runs! Looking to the day when she will be free - she runs. Reborn of a righteous fire that cannot be quenched, she will not falter - she will not fail. Running with her, the ever-present narrative of her story; "Amandla, Awetu!" the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

by M. M. Mpanya

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Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:49:48 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=98
I am an African Slave http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=97 I am an African Slave

Trapped in my skin are my bones
I am a prisoner in my own land
I am not dead
No blade is sharp enough to free me
No scream is loud enough to hear me

The death of my feet has left me numb
Down I sit with nothing to eat
I cry. I cry and no one can really hear me
My falling tears stain the silky material of my bed
No one really cares

My parents are working so hard with no fortune to show
Only scars of pain and sorrow
Sobbing, hoping and wishing
Wishing everything come to an end

I am oppressed by the horrifying past
I am contradicted by confusing present
I am fearful of the uncertain future

Everyday I try to be happy
Joy has deserted me as I slowly lost hope
Hatred for life has increased
Hatred that kidnapped the remaining of my hopes
I am an African slave



PK Logolong

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Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:41:37 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=97
Join the Caravan and Make a Difference http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=96 The African Solidarity Caravan

Building and Deepening a Culture of Pan-African People-to-People Solidarity

Reflect, Connect, Strategise, Organise, Mobilise, Transform, Consolidate, Celebrate

Join the Caravan and Make a Difference

During May 2014 Africa Week Festival the ACTION Support Centre (ASC) through its initiative the Proudly African Campaign launched the African Solidarity Caravan in Yeoville, South Africa on the 23rd of May 2014. Following this successful Launch, the ASC invites all Africans across the continent and in the Diaspora to participate in the Caravan through organising local events that contribute to building and deepening a culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity. 

The Caravan Launch, preceded by a Public Dialogue and followed by Africa Day Celebration brought together hundreds of conflict transformation, peace, trade union, women, religious, solidarity, socio-economic and political activists, students, artists and leaders at all levels for reflections and discussions on key issues, including celebrating and developing practically implementable strategies. The following key topics drove the discussions, reflections and celebration; Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, African Feminist thought and action, leadership, citizenship and good governance, the African political economy, including a solidarity focus with the kidnapped learners in Nigeria, and detained Swazi activists in Swaziland.

The African Solidarity Caravan seeks to deepen the connections between Africans across the continent and in the Diaspora, through a series of events hosted by local networks that will culminate into a Peace and Human Security Festival, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia towards the end of 2014. This process will also including stimulating exchange of innovative, creative and practically implementable strategies and ideas that contribute to a deepened culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity, African Renaissance and to the broader vision of a world of justice and peace in which all the basic needs of people are met and peoples’ rights and dignity are respected.

All Africans across the continent and in the Diaspora are invited to organise collaborative events that take the momentum of the Caravan forward. These events can take the form of reflective and analytical sessions, information and experience sharing discussions, solidarity vigils, pickets, marches, blitzing, street theatre encounters, cultural evenings and celebrations. Therefore, the ASC encourages activists to do one or more of the following:

  • Organise a local event that contributes to building and deepening a culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity, justice, peace and development.
  • Send messages of solidarity to any African struggle of their choice and or demands that will form part of the Declaration that will be submitted to the Africa Union (AU) through the Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. This can be in the form of short videos and statements as well.
  • Share organic stories of organisation, mobilisation and transformation, including initiatives around peace, solidarity, African Renaissance, human and people’s rights, cultural celebrations etc. This will be posted and shared on websites and social media platforms hosting Caravan information and will form a pool of stories from which solidarity activists can draw lessons and experience.
  • Writing articles, short stories, graphic, art and cartoon work, poems, short videos that focus on Peace, African Renaissance, Sustainable Development, Pan-Africanism, Pan-African Solidarity and other related topics.
  • Tweet and post Facebook status updates on Peace, African Renaissance, Sustainable Development, Pan-Africanism, Pan-African Solidarity adding any or all of the following #tags; #ProudlyAfriCan, #AfricanSolidarityCaravan. Proudly African T-shirts and burets have been produced to reward those who use these #tags.  
  • Share this information and mobilise their broad networks to participate in this initiative.
  • Join the main event, a Human festival in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

To submit your proposed local event, message of solidarity, demands, organic stories, writings, art, videos, and to request more information, please contact:

Philani Ndebele

Campaigns Manager

The ACTION Support Centre

philani@asc.org.za, +27 (0) 11 482 2484

 

For more information visit: www.proudlyafrican.mobi

Facebook: ProudlyAfriCanCampaign

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Thu, 19 Jun 2014 09:43:07 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=96