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 JOIN US FOR AN ENCOUNTER WITH CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=152 JOIN US FOR AN ENCOUNTER WITH CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION

Madame Bongi Ngema Zuma will open the ACTION Support Centre event on conflict transformation approaches to building peace and eradicating violence

The ACTION Support Centre (ASC) will hold an event, the Conflict Transformation Encounter, on Saturday 18th of October at the Bosco Centre in Walkerville. Join us for a fascinating day of real-life experience sharing from over 18 African countries and a series of healing events.

The event will consist of workshops and presentations exploring the conflict transformation approach to peacebuilding, and it’s relevance to global peace and security issues. Delegates and speakers from over 18 countries are expected to attend, presenting examples of how conflict transformation makes sense across multiple contexts. Local Peace Committee members from Alexandra, Orange Farm and Soweto as well as members of the South African Somali Women’s Network will also attend.

The event will start with a formal opening at 9:00am, featuring Madam Bongi Ngema Zuma as a guest speaker. Workshops will be held following the opening, and will run throughout the day. Speakers from Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia will discuss how the conflict transformation approach has been used to build peace in their own contexts. There will also be a focus on the post-2015 development agenda, to contribute to global discussions that are underway on the follow up to the UN Millennium Development Goals.

In the afternoon between 2:00pm and 5:30pm the workshops will be supplemented with healing themed activities such as dance therapy, massage and a drumming circle. According to event organiser Charity Mungweme “The Encounter will be a chance to give back to those who invest their time and energy in peacebuilding, a chance to revitalise ourselves and each other”. 

The event culminates in a celebration of African Culture. Mouth-watering dishes from across the continent will be accompanied by performances from highly acclaimed Common Factor, the Blue Boy Pantsula troupe and the bluesy Congolese rhythms of Les Fantastique!

ASC Campaigns Manager Philani Ndebele explains “conflict transformation is an approach that sees conflict as a challenge and an opportunity, rather than an obstacle”. “Working effectively to end wars and violence requires work in all spheres, at all levels and with all stakeholders”. According to Ms Mungweme, ”The Conflict Transformation Encounter is part of an on-going contribution of the ACTION Support Centre to a long term process of changing relationships, behaviours, attitudes and structures, and to building a new and better world.”

The ACTION Support Centre is the Africa regional hub of a global network of organisations and individuals committed to transforming conflict, ACTION for Conflict Transformation (ACTION).  The ASC was established in 2002 on the basis of a mandate to set up a communications hub for the network members of ACTION Global. It has since transformed itself into a regional and continental base for organisations working in the fields of conflict and development.

 For more information, contact:

 Charity Mungweme (charity@asc.org.za)

Jennifer Pillinger-Melnick (Jennifer@asc.org.za)

+27 (0) 11 482 2453

+27 (0) 11 482 7442

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Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:10:23 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=152
Statement of the Fifth Action Asia Peacebuilders’ Forum 2014 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=151 Statement of the Fifth Action Asia Peacebuilders’ Forum 2014

Nurturing Peacebuilders towards Peaceful and Resilient Communities


4 October, 2014, Yangon, Myanmar


We, 65 peacebuilders from nineteen countries across Asia and beyond, gathered in Yangon, Myanmar, from 1st to 4th October 2014 for the fifth Action Asia Peacebuilders' Forum, and jointly discussed a wide range of issues currently facing in Asia with the theme “Nurturing Peacebuilders towards peaceful and resilient communities,” declare our firm collective commitment: “We refuse to be victims. We choose to be resources for peace.” 



As we reflect on and study the ongoing and emerging conflicts within and between territories, we RECOGNISE the urgent need to reach out to the unreachable in our journey towards inclusive peace.  



We JOIN the peoples of Myanmar as they journey through a transition where it is vital that peace, security and development encompass a just and equitable relationship between the various ethnic groups and faith communities of the country. We CALL for strengthening diverse national and local voices in the decision making processes of the current negotiation towards a genuinely people-centered peace process.

We ACKNOWLEDGE the challenge to be INNOVATIVE in our approaches in dealing with the emerging challenges of modern technologies, liberal market systems, disaster and climate change, strong identities based on several aspects, majority and minority relationships, especially in complex political transitions.



We URGE and CALL on nations and stakeholders to commit to address problems through dialogue and non-violent means. We ENCOURAGE civil societies to be nurturing accompaniers towards peaceful and resilient communities and relentlessly work towards sustainable peace in their own context and across contextual boundaries.


 
We COMMIT ourselves as peacebuilders to continuing action for conflict transformation in our communities and countries, and in our region. We OFFER ourselves as resources to nurture one another as peace builders.


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Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:06:04 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=151
Orange Farm Stakeholders Meeting http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=150

This workshop provided a platform not for the speakers but for the community members themselves; it was a way for them to use their own tools to empower each other. The speakers present were only there to offer words of encouragement and experiences of their own. 

The main objective for the workshop was to have the stakeholders identify the challenges that face Orange Farms as a community of youth, elders and different genders. The challenges were identified through a discussion process where stakeholders were put in groups. The challenges identified were mostly socio-economic and were youth related as well; these were teenage pregnancy, unemployment, initiation school violence, lack of service delivery, xenophobia, drug abuse and crime as the starting points.

The stakeholders were also tasked with finding the possible opportunities that are available and can be created. The opportunities were seen as the skills centre, different ways of creating employment i.e. street vending, engaging with the relevant parties to solve the problems and the most mentioned opportunity was that of learning and equipping themselves with knowledge to be able to engage more effectively.

The outcome of the meeting was the realization that the Orange Farm Stakeholders knew what was wrong in their community and were more than willing to find solutions to their challenges. A task team of volunteers was set up after the meeting to liaise with the community and find ways to adopt the opportunities listed. So for the next meeting ACTION Support Centre is looking forward to seeing the progress and adding more value to it.


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Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:38:52 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=150
African Solidarity Soccer, South Africa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=149

As part of the African Solidarity Caravan events leading to the Peace and Human Security Festival, soccer matches were played organized by the Somali embassy in partnership with the ACTION Support Centre. The matches took place on the 27th of September 2014. The matches were between Uganda vs the Metro Police; Diplomats vs Johannesburg Stars; South African Police Service (SAPS) vs Al-Hilaal and Somali Youth of Pretoria and MYS FC. There were a total of 8 teams competing, with SAPS and Uganda making it to the final, and Uganda taking the win with a score of 2-1. The winning team received a trophy and medals. A lunch was held at Nura Hotel on the following day for all the participants.

The main objective of the matches was to facilitate the integration of Somali nationals in South Africa, where social cohesion between law enforcers and people affected by crime could come together to a share platform and understand each other. The event also sought to promote the respect of cultural diversity and a culture of Pan-African people to people solidarity. Pretty Mncube, who was responsible for the handing over of medals, represented the ACTION Support Centre. She was there throughout the matches and witnessed the mutual joy that all teams shared by meeting on the same platform. 

At the end of the matches there were no longer any teams or countries, but rather people that shared a love for a universal sport, who met on equal footing and were able to acknowledge that through sport social cohesion and integration can take place.  


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Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:37:58 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=149
African Solidarity Caravan: Voice of Community Organisation, Rwanda http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=148 The event was held on the 11th of September 2014 at Land Star Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. The Voice of Community (VOC) in partnership with ACTION Support Centre hosted the event. Over 50 delegates attended and participated In the Conference from different civil society organisations, umbrella organisations, researchers and government institutions.

The theme was African Solidarity for Peace Building. The Chief Executive Officer of VCO (Innocent Musore) was in charge of welcoming delegates.

The event was separated into presentations and discussions.

The highlights of the presentations and discussions were:

  • Collective effort is required to promote and sustain solidarity among Africans.
  • A question of why Africa is not as integrated as East Africa was posed.
  • Participants acknowledged all peace initiatives undertaken by Rwanda.
  • An emphasis was placed on strategies and recommendations to increase spread of information among Africans.
  • Elements that could help Africans achieve sustainable solidarity for peace were pointed out e.g. cultural diversity and joint conflict resolution mechanisms.
  • Underlying causes of conflict were identified as just and unjust wars, ideology of sectarianism, existence of negative forces who kill; rape and use of women as sex slaves, the Eastern part of Congo and Burundi causing fighting.
  • Root causes of conflict were identified as inequalities, lack of accountability by government and food insecurity.
  • The argued solutions to these problems were seen as inclusion of women and youth in development and policy making, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights
  • The platform to discuss these issues was hugely appreciated among participants.

 Recommendations

  • Familiarise the peoples of Africa with the objectives and policies aimed at integrating Africa.
  • Encourage good governance, transparency and accountability in Member states
  • Share practices for fighting against corruption
  • Organise a regional conference focused on African Solidarity for Peace Building
  • Put in place legal practices based on East African methods
  • Enforce education on African Solidarity and building trust between Africans
  • Engage Africans by dialogue for peace building and sharing opportunities.
  • Strengthen the implementation of African solidarity in Great lakes regional.
  • Develop a global approach where all stakeholders, including faith based organisations are involved in promoting African Solidarity
  • Sharing practical tools with post conflict communities for peace building and development
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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:28:11 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=148
African Solidarity Caravan: COPA, Kenya http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=147 The event was held on the 16th of August 2014 at Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. The people in attendance were multi-ethnic community members, Mr Alhad Ahmed Adam from the County Assembly and Mr Caleb Omollo.

The event was divided into three sections:

  • Performances
  • Speeches
  • Public Conversation

Performances

There were three performances: the Kibera Hamlet youth group gave an acrobatic performance, Kibera Katwekera cultural group performed six songs from six different Kenyan ethnic groups, and Youth Talent group gave out three coral verses with the theme of peace building and ethnic tolerance. The last group also performed a skit depicting communal conflict where a water borehole was the main source of Inter-ethnic bloodshed.

The performances were not limited to professionals but the community also took part by showcasing their talents and getting prizes for the best performances.

Speeches

Area Member of the Country Assembly, Deputy Country Commissioner, a COPA Representative, religious leaders and youth leaders delivered the speeches during the event.

In his speech, the area MCA acknowledged the rising political tension in the country, and how the citizens are divided along ethnic lines, and most of the major ethnic groups in the country share their loyalty between the ruling coalition, and opposition. He reminded the huge crowd, that while politicians are working hard to incite them against one another, they are always aware in their suburb comfort zones and watching on television, how the people of the slums slaughter each other. He concluded by thanking COPA and Action Support center for bringing the event to Kibera slums, and urged them to organize many other events in future to help in sensitizing the people in the slums against ethno – political related conflicts.

The Deputy County commissioner thanked the two organizations for bringing the event to Kibera and stated that issues of human security and community safety cannot be left to the government alone. He condemned the recent skirmishes in Kibera laini Saba between two rival ethnic groups, resulted in massive destruction of properties and serious injuries to more than 50 people from both the opposing sides. He said that the government has devised serious measures to curb the rising cases of insecurity in the country, and the efforts of implementing the Nyumba kumi initiative within the Kibera slums, is at an advanced stage.

Abdul Aziz Abubakar, who represented the organizers, thanked the huge crowd for finding time to witness the event. He gave a brief history of the African Solidarity forum, its general objectives and the objectives of the Kibera event. He promised that COPA would request its partners for more support in order to organize a much bigger event in future.

The youth leader Mr. Abdallah Juma asked the government, through the deputy county commissioner to intensify its efforts towards poverty alleviation in the slums by creating income generating opportunities to the youth. He also urged his fellow youth from Kibera, not to engage in violent activities, and to beware of politicians with the habit of hiring young people to instigate politically motivated violence.

Public conversation

The Master of ceremony Mr. Moses Omondi innovatively engaged the crowd towards finding the lasting solutions for a more ethnicly and religiously unified Kibera. More than 20 members of the community, including several children, gave their views which included, among others;

  • Mutual respect of ethnic, religious and other diversities.
  • The government and NGOs to organize continuous inter ethnic, multi cultural and inter religious forums.
  • Rehabilitating of existing academic institutions within Kibera and building of Technical institutions.
  • Improving of the infrastructure in Kibera.
  • Eradication of drugs and illicit brew in Kibera.
  • Enhancing security by creating proactive means of dealing with crime.
  • Curbing corruption within the Kibera provincial administration.
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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:25:39 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=147
African Solidarity Caravan: COPA, Burundi http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=146 The event took place on the 14th of August 2014 at the Hotel Source du Nil in Burundi. It was organised by the Coalition for Peace (COPA) in partnership with ACTION Support Centre. The people in attendance were members of civil society, student representatives from Universities around Burundi, the National Council of Bashingantahe foundation, political party leaders, representatives of the Political Bureau of the Office of the United Nations Burundi and the institution of the Ombudsman.

Drummers formed part of the welcoming committee; the drum is seen as a sign of peace in Burundi. The legal representative (Jean Paul Nthuhurumuryango) of COPA led proceedings.

The workshop activities included the following:

  • Discussion of the local mediators in preventing electoral disputes, which was presented by Pancra Ndabatinye from the Bashingantahe institution.
  • Discussion regarding the establishment of an infrastructure of peace for the prevention and the management of electoral disputes: case of Benin, presented by Nsengiyuma Sylvere.
  • Discussion about the poor governance as a source of violent conflict presented by Pacific Nininahazwe.
  • Discussion about the role of a youth elite in conflict prevention presented by Tharcisse Ndayizeye who is a young University researcher.

The outcomes of the discussions were as follows:


The role of local mediators in preventing electoral disputes

  • Establishing and strengthening justice systems
  • Instilling responsible leadership practices among the various leaders in the country.
  • Defending of Burundi customs and morals.
  • Emphasis was placed on the role local mediators played in 2010 and therefore could play in the election process of 2015. A culture of mutual respect for democratic practices by competing parties, responsibility and accountability by citizens, peacekeeping and peace building was encouraged during the upcoming elections.
  • Recommendation for AU to start an independent special tribunal to deal with election-specific conflict.

 The establishment of an infrastructure for peace

  • Its goal was to inspire actors within Burundi to develop strategies to banish violence.
  • Participants enjoyed the presentation and urged for a structure for peace specific to their context be built, as long as resources permit. The structure would be aimed at reducing already existing conflict and encouraging commitment in the electoral environment.
  • There was a realization that INEC’s role is not to mediate conflict but to oversee elections and make sure they are peaceful and transparent.

 Poor governance as a source of violent conflict

  • Good governance and democracy are fuelled by the respect for rule of law and the constitution.
  • Violent conflicts in Africa are similar because of their origin. The origins are non-compliance in regard to the principles of succession, human rights and economic freedoms.
  • The challenges that face countries that experienced poor governance were listed as poverty and illiteracy; misuse of resources by leadership; greed and selfish behavior by leaders; corruption and incompetence in public institutions.
  • The recommended solutions were listed as enlightenment and responsible practices from the leaders; a culture of patriotism, change the mindset of youth and political leaders; developing effective solidarity strategies, identify youth needs in terms of social projects within different political parties; proactive engagement with public institution and strong institution led by strong leadership.

Role of youth elite in African Development

  • The definition of elite was given to clarify the concept.
  • An example of the learners in Soweto who tasked the government with making reforms in education was given.
  • Youth was tasked with influencing change for development and creating concrete solutions to achieve it; to take the lead in change and refuse manipulation by creating their own employment,
  • Young people must join political parties in an effort to influence policies and develop a culture of democratic competitiveness.
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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:21:58 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=146
African Solidarity Caravan: Zambia Social Forum http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=145

Public discussion on peace, justice, security and development 

The event took place in Lusaka, Zambia on the 7th to the 9th of August. It included a public discussion, messages of solidary, testimonies on peace and security, a social march, soccer and cultural performances as a reflection of peace. 

Key Messages of Solidarity

The first solidarity message, shared by Mr Alex Mukuka Musanya, emphasized the importance of strong connections between leaders at all levels, and the desire to see the peace in Zambia shared and nurtured in other African countries. The second message, by Mama Chibesa Kankasa, explored the history of the United National Independence Party, and the impact of the segregation on women and families. Finally, she explained how the Peace Committee, Development Committee and Equality Committee were formed when the United Nations declared a decade for women. She shared the Zambian slogan of ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION that was the building ground for 73 tribes living in harmony under the leadership of Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

A Social March, Soccer and Cultural Performance: As a Reflection on peace.

There was a one-kilometer march/walk that attracted more than 100 people with an additional 100 community members joining as the march proceeded. Key messages of solidarity and information about the purpose of the event were shared before, during and after the match.

A soccer match between civil society organisations and the government then followed this. A media briefing took place at the sports ground and a recap of all the events was reported to the media. 

The cultural event started with giving encouraging words on peace, security and justice from His Worship Potinpher Tembo. Sarah Longwe congratulated the teams on the spirit shown on the football field. She encouraged reflections and recommendations on the part of the audience. Discussions took place and these were the recommendations:

·  Discourage gender-based violence, corruption and vote buying.

·  Youths should be the key drivers of development in Zambia and Africa as a whole.

·  Violence against women should be stopped and reported to the relevant authorities.

·  Ownership of land by women should be encouraged.

·  Youth projects should be strengthened in Zambia.

·  Shelters for women should be established.

·  Ill-treatment from parents should be reported and stopped.

·  Pubs and Taverns should be monitored to avoid underage drinking.

·  Access to loans and land resources should be increased for youth and women.

·  Customary land practices should be changed.

·  Encouraging entrepreneurship among the youth should take priority.

·  Promotion of peace building NGOs must take center stage.

·  More funding for more Caravan events should be raised.

·  Replicate the idea of the Caravan in all other African countries

·  Policies should address and accommodate women and youth issue across Africa.

Outcomes

Learning, information and skills sharing were encouraged especially around Local Peace Committees. The concept of the Caravan was seen as viable and important, and there was appreciation of the role of culture in the promotion of peace and development was.

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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:19:15 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=145
Ceasefire Closing http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=144 On the 16th of September ACTION was represented at a historical meeting for the Ceasefire Campaign – it’s final AGM. With much sadness it was announced that Ceasefire will be closing down in September. 

Ceasefire is the only organization of it’s kind in South Africa campaigning to reduce the arms trade and tighten arms trade regulations, as well as promoting demilitarization and nonviolent alternatives. In addition to ongoing initiatives to advance these objectives, Ceasefire co-hosted the highly successful War Resisters International conference, “Small Actions, Big Movements: the Continuum of Nonviolence” which was held in Cape Town in July this year, and was attended by more than 200 delegates from all over the world. 

Despite the circumstances that have lead to Ceasefire’s closing, the valuable work that Ceasefire has been involved in will continue to be taken forward by its members in their own capacities. 

ACTION applauds the accomplishments made by Ceasefire and wishes its members the best for their future work.


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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:16:34 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=144
Kenya: Launch of the Rural Initiatives for Participatory Agriculture Transformation (RIPAT) Project http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=143

Below is an update from ACTION partner RTC in Kenya. RTC is an NGO that supports people and organisations in transforming violent conflict and building lasting peace.  It works in partnership with others to design and coordinate long-term programmes that support local peacebuilding initiatives and provides on-going support to partners in the midst of conflict.

After several years of providing training, mentoring and strategic support to Caritas Maralal for Conflict Sensitive development work in Samburu County, Northern Kenya, RTC is pleased to announce its involvement in a new project that will integrate sustainable livelihood development and long-term peacebuilding, in an effort to improve personal and community security.

Rural Initiatives for Participatory Agricultural Transformation (RIPAT) for Peace in Kenya is a project funded by the Rockwool Foundation and implemented by Caritas Maralal, Responding to Conflict, and Research, Community and Organisational Development Associates (RECODA).

Conflict has long occurred between the district’s three main ethnic communities. Adverse environmental conditions aggravate disputes over water access and pasture, and sparse resources have led to a culture of cattle raiding. The easy availability of small arms means that conflicts are often violent.

The goal of the three-year project, which launched in June 2014, is to support communities in Baragoi, Marti, Amaya and Longewan in Samburu County. Building on existing skills and practices, it will introduce people to more effective, more sustainable farming methods designed to increase food production and reduce food insecurity.  Linked to the agricultural work are initiatives to help improve dialogue and cooperation between the different ethnic groups in the region. 

The project will engage local peace committees, elders, women, warriors (moran), administrative police and local politicians in the search for common ground from which to rebuild relationships and bring groups together when conflict arises. The goal is to encourage all levels of the community to work together to tackle the environmental, economic and security challenges to peace and development.

RTC’s involvement will be primarily in training community peace committees and administrative police, providing technical support to Caritas Maralal, and mediating between politicians whose constituencies are in the target locations. This community-driven approach will help to improve the chances of creating a long-lasting and sustainable peace in the area.

www.respond.org/pages/kenya-sustainable-agriculture-for-a-sustainable-peace.html

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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:11:18 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=143
Reconciliation as a Mechanism for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=142

From 2nd September to 4th September, the ACTION Support Centre in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, hosted the “Reconciliation as a Mechanism for Conflict Prevent and Peacebuilding: Experts Consultation”. This consultation meeting brought together over 60 expert practitioners, academics, inter-governmental and United Nations officials from all over the world to share examples of good practices and lessons learned in context specific reconciliation processes and initiatives that have contributed to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. 

Delegates discussed key components and levels of the reconciliation process and identified challenges, priorities and linkages. This provided the bases to rethink reconciliation approaches; explore the components of a fourth generation TRC approach; and finally explore the possibility of developing a universal pedagogy around context specific approaches to reconciliation. 

The meeting brought together many different ideas on the way forward and the ACTION Support Centre looks forward to being involved in this long-term process. 

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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:09:58 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=142
Reflecting and Embracing our Heritage http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=141 The ACTION Support Team Celebrates Heritage Day 

The ACTION Support Team held a workshop the 27th September 2014 at Stay City, Berea in Johannesburg, under the theme, “Reflecting and Embracing our Heritage”. The workshop was an opportunity to reflect on Heritage Day, as it was noted that while Heritage commonly refers to cultural identity and diversity, it also signifies the political and social history of South Africa.

The group shared their views on the meaning of Heritage; agreement emerged that while culture, languages and values differ from each other, all are equals. It was raised that often there are perceptions and misperceptions which impact on other cultures and lead to conflicts. There was a shared common ground that that we should embrace our heritage, and respect our diversity.

The ACTION Support Team then visited the Apartheid Museum, where there were mixed feelings, as the tour guide explained what happened during Apartheid, and the process and sacrifices it took to gain democracy and civil liberties. The Apartheid Museum was an occasion to connect to the political and social history of South Africa.

Moreover, the tour guide reminded the group that it is through determination and resilience that freedom was achieved. The ACTION Support Team believed that though freedom was achieved at a heavy cost, twenty years down the line, social welfare remains a serious challenge in the country. 

On a particular note, the Support Team visit to the Museum invited them to reflect and celebrate Heritage Day. They sincerely acknowledge that they owe their liberation to the departed and living heroes of the struggle, and as they aspire for a better South Africa, it is a collective responsibility.

The workshop was dynamic, enthusiastic, and participative and rich in learning. The ACTION Support Team thanks its member for attending this workshop and invites others to join The ACTION Support Team.

 Please contact Ulrich Bouelangoye, 011 482 7442/2453 ulrich@asc.org.za 


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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:08:21 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=141
2nd Stakeholders Zimbabwe Special Dispensation Permit Meeting http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=140 Understanding the new regulations for Zimbabweans living in South Africa

The meeting was held on the 17th of September at the Hilton Hotel, Sandton. The purpose behind it was to explain the ZSDP application process, providing further clarity on the ZSDP, and setting an agreement on how the Zimbabwe Stakeholders Forum would be engaged regarding the issue.

The Zimbabwe Special Dispensation Permit is a recently introduced permit which is a successor to the previous DZP (Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project) permit. The new regulations surrounding this permit generated some confusion and uncertainty among Zimbabwean expats.

Rishen Mahabeeer from VFS Global was there to enlighten people about how the project will be managed from the 1st of October 2014 to the 31st of April 2015. The management of the project is meant to ensure that the processes are more efficient and therefore hassle free for applicants.

A significant strength of the application process is that it will cater for people who applied as far back as 2010, and the people who did not receive their permits or whose applications were rejected. Existing application centres are being advanced, and new ones are being built in various locations. An additional convenience is the online application, which makes it easier for people to check their application status.

The issue raised during the questions and comments phase was that of the lack in communication and coordination between the service providers and public institutions. People that were not in possession of a permit, at the border post, were seen as undesirables which made it harder to get the relevant help. Home Affairs suggested that applicants make use of online channels to lodge complaints, such as emailing. On the issue of teachers and frozen bank accounts the Department said it will send formal notification letters to all departments involved.

The meeting was informative in the sense that people found out how long the process takes and whether Work permits can be moved to Business permits. Home Affrairs and all the organisations who attended like the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria, Zimbabwe Consulate Johannesburg, Movement for Democratic Change-South Africa, CoRMSA as well as ACTION Support Centre were equipped with an improved understanding of the ZSDP, to support the many Zimbabweans who it affected.


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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:05:53 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=140
Gaza Crisis http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=139 The Power of Collective Action

When members of ACTION attended the Gaza Crisis Conference, they were warmly welcomed into a group of people whose dedication to peace and justice moved them to take action to address the Gaza Crisis. The group consisted of Muslims, Unionists and delegates from different organizations, all coming together under a common goal – to mobilise South Africa in freeing Gaza.

Many of the speakers from the day had a word or two to share about what is happening in Gaza, how South Africa fits into the crisis and what we, as the people, can do about it. The most notable speakers were the ambassador of Palestine, Cosatu, the ANC and a female journalist with direct, first hand experience of the Gaza crisis. 

Each organization shared ideas on which route should be taken to free Gaza. Cosatu, for example, suggested using the labour power within South Africa to bring capital to and from Israel to a standstill. This would include a complete boycott from all sectors and their workers. The Labour Federation proposed that in partnership with the Muslim and Arab community, workers could support this process by identifying products that were imported and exported from Israel. The weapons used in Gaza and the materials used would be monitored, if passing through South Africa.

Others proposed the use of  social media in raising awareness about the severity of the war in Gaza. The use of social media would mean identifying the reports, newspapers and pictures that have the most accurate depictions of the situation in Gaza. However, a challenge identified with social media was that at this point most of the anti-Gaza crisis groups are fragmented, with the result that the media tend to concentrate more on the “plight of Israel.” A representative of the ANC proposed that social media could be used to issue a call to unite under one umbrella and have mass mobilization take place, citing the effectiveness of mass mobilization in the struggle against apartheid. 

Mass mobilization would also mean encouraging solidarity across different sectors, cultures and genders. It is a call to realise that the Gaza Crisis is a morality issue, a human rights and security issue. One spoke about what the conflict was doing to children in Palestine, highlight that the current generation were living under their third conflict. This meant a change in their perspective of life. Children were becoming more and more affected by the violence. The stories about children were a tear-jerker and made people realise how the most innocent of lives were affected.

The conference concluded with a plan for the way forward. It was agreed that all who shared an idea would come together and put that idea into action. The conference was organised by ordinary people with a desire for peace and justice, showing the power of collective action.

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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:04:28 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=139
Building and Improving Relations between Local Authorities and Grassroots Partners http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=138 Making All Voices Count with the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre

Members of the ACTION Support Centre, together with the Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations (Coventry University) traveled to Zanzibar to visit partners at the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre, as part of a research project under the Making All Voices Count Project. The project, entitled “From Early Warning to Response in Preventing Violence: Transforming Conflict through Citizen Engagement”, seeks to build and/or improve relations between local authorities/decision makers and our partners who are engaged at the grassroots level.

The visit began with conversations among ZANZIC’s Joint Committee of Religious Leaders for Peace and Tranquility, and continued with further dialogue among YIFOZA – Youth Interfaith Forum of Zanzibar. In these conversations, our partners shared not only their concerns, but also stories that inspired optimism and hope. In one particular case, concerned and offended citizens reached out to the Mufti’s office. Strong relations between the Mufti and Christian leaders led to a quick response and an apology to those offended – tensions calmed before physical violence occurred.

The team also met with the Zanzibari police, including the Commissioner of Police for the archipelago, and learned about their efforts to use Facebook to raise awareness and communicate with the youth of Stone Town. The Facebook page was created in partnership with the International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI), with whom the team also met. ILPI is using cell phones to conduct mobile surveys in Zanzibar and is building bridges with the community through this process.

At the heart of the visit came a full-day workshop, hosted by the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre. Participants included YIFOZA, the Joint Committee of Religious Leaders, local police, Stone Town Youth, Tanzania Youth Icon, officials from Zanzibar’s Ministry of Education, and others. The purpose of the workshop was for the participants to learn about each other and to create a space for thinking about and responding to tensions in Zanzibar. The ACTION team guided participants through a Force Field Analysis, in which four breakout groups discussed the attitudes, behaviours, systems, institutions, groups, economics, politics, and social factors which can hinder or support a cause. Building from these reflections, the plenary began to describe the landscape of Zanzibar through the Relationship Mapping approach, in which key parties to the tensions are identified, and the relationships between them analyzed. Earnest conversations about the role of the community, as well as the opportunities for the community and civil society to positively engage other ‘powers’, set the stage for further conversation beyond the visit.

The project will now continue with a visit to People’s Voice for Peace in Gulu, Uganda, and through work with the Local Peace Committees of Gauteng, as well as online conversations. People from ZANZIC, People’s Voice for Peace, and the Local Peace Committees will meet each other and exchange learning through webinars. At the same time, members from these three groups will be active in the upcoming Conflict Transformation Encounter event October, continuing to build relationships, promote solidarity, and learn from the broad ACTION community.

Reports and learning from this initial visit will appear in future newsletters and will help shape the direction of the project.


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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:02:17 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=138
ACTION Support Centre – Contributing to peace and development in Myanmar http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=137

The idea that the country we used to know as Burma is now commonly referred to as Myanmar takes some getting used to. Although the name changed officially in 1989 many peace activists opposed the shift for years.  There is little doubt now though that the name change is here to stay, and that this shift is only the thin end of a wedge of transformative changes affecting the country and its people. 

A new approach to peace and an opening up of political spaces for expression and organisation began under government chief negotiator Aung Min in 2011. There are now over 18 different dialogue processes engaging government teams and representatives of armed groups and minority communities.  This includes efforts to connect the disparate processes into a broader more integrated national peace effort. This time around the approach, focused on more inclusivity and the recognition of the importance of trust and confidence building, appears to be significantly different. 

As the wide range of peace dialogues proceed in fits and starts an even deeper set of changes appears to be taking hold across the entire country. The opening up of a society isolated from the rest of the world for almost 50 years has set in motion a new way of thinking that seems unlikely to reverse direction. This democratisation process, for a country held in the grip of a series of highly autocratic military dictatorships and an almost fanatical socialist regime, is perhaps an even deeper and more significant change for the people of Myanmar.  

Significantly ACTION Asia, sister network of ACTION members in Africa, selected Myanmar as the host country for its International Forum that got underway on the 1st of October. Baht Latumbo, head of the secretariat and a member of the ACTION Support Centre Steering Committee recalled the differences between the first meetings of ACTION Asia members in Myanmar in 2001, held under the radar, amidst real security concerns, and the openness that marked the 2014 international gathering of peacebuilders and conflict transformation practitioners from over 15 different countries across the region and around the world.

ACTION Support Centre Steering Committee member Richard Smith was able to attend the opening evening and take part in the celebrations. The opportunity arose on the back of a working visit to Myanmar to carry out a series of awareness raising and capacity building workshops on conflict sensitivity as part of a UNDP driven initiative. Workshops were carried out in 5 different contexts, with participants from UN Agencies, International NGOs, local and national civil society groups and government counterparts from the Ministry of Border Affairs.

The trainings covered various contexts including northern Kachin state on the border with China and Rakhine in the West, flanking Bangladesh. Rakhine has been much in the news lately and is severely affected by complex identity conflicts. A key part of the trainings included a workshop with members of the government Ministry of Border Affairs in the central capital of Nay Pyi Taw. Overall more than 100 people participated in discussions about the connections between conflict, humanitarian assistance and development. 

In many of the analytical dialogues that took place examples were shared of how resources and external actors can end up doing more harm than good. Throughout the country cases were narrated of where the international community and local development actors had inadvertently escalated existing tensions, with violence an all too regular unintended consequence of the attempts to assist people in real need. 

As with many contexts there were also several examples of where a more innovative conflict transformation approach has had transformative outcomes. The key difference between whether resources are used as a force for peace or violence appears to lie in genuine efforts that build relationships and learn from local communities, seeking to build on the resilience, skills and experiences of those in the midst of conflict and to see conflict as a challenge and an opportunity, not an obstacle.

The workshops formed part of UNDP efforts to better integrate Emergency Relief, Humanitarian Assistance and Development initiatives under the framework of Early Recovery. The “Conflict Sensitive Approaches to Early Recovery” trainings were based on a Trainers Manual and a set of Handouts developed specifically for the Myanmar context.

These materials incorporate a lot of the learning and insights from work done using a conflict transformation approach by peacebuilders and development practitioners within the ACTION network. The materials are available for use by ACTION members -  just write to us requesting a copy and we will gladly share them.

The ACTION Support Centre intends to continue strengthening the connections between ACTION members in Africa and South East Asia. This will include having representatives from Asia at our Conflict Transformation Encounter later in October and an exploration of deeper forms of collaboration and learning throughout 2015.


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Mon, 06 Oct 2014 16:46:44 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=137
Women's Day with the Somali Embassy http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=136

The ACTION Support Centre was invited to give an address at a Somali Women’s Day event hosted by the Somali Embassy in South Africa.

It was a useful opportunity to strengthen relationships with the Embassy, and also enabled SASOWNET leaders to expand the network of contacts. The meeting was attended by Somali representatives in the Pan African Parliament and was televised on National Television in Somalia.

The ACTION Support Centre has been working closely with Somali women in the diaspora to establish the South African Somali Women’s Network. SASOWNET aims to amplify the voices of Somali women living in South Africa, to strengthen the connections between women in South Africa and across the Somali region and to ensure that the needs and aspirations of Somali women are part of policy making processes.

This event forms part of broader efforts to support SASOWNET as part of a contribution to the Somali Solidarity campaign.


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:33:02 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=136
ACTION Welcomes Tshimologo Makgokgoa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=135 New Social Media Intern

ACTION welcomed on board Tshimologo Makgokgoa in August, who is the newest member of the team. Tshimologo is a University of Pretoria graduate with a degree in Political Science and International Relations. She was formerly a Learner Official at SAEWA trade union and was part of the community outreach programme at the Centre for Aids Studies. 

Tshimologo will be involved in all of the ACTION social media pages, as well as assisting in the African Solidarity Caravan activities, and the organization of the Conflict Transformation Encounter.


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:30:43 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=135
CAGE Launch http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=134 Survivors of the War on Terror

A UK-based human rights group that first uncovered the identities of detainees at Guantanamo Bay launched its South Africa chapter this month. Students, activists, human rights organisations, the public and those in the legal field gathered to share insights on the issues.

The official CAGE Africa launch was held at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg on the 29th of August 2014 at 18:30. The guest speaker was the United Kingdom-based journalist and CAGE patron Yvonne Ridley. Yvonne was captured by the Taliban in 2001. Since her release, she has become a leading activist for human rights. She has delivered lectures on issues pertaining to the war on terror, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, amongst other human rights issues. 

Yvonne is also a member of Stop the War Coalition and the Respect Party in the UK. She is an author of two books, “In the Hands of the Taliban” and “Ticket to Paradise”. She is a patron of CAGE and is also the European President of the International Muslim Women’s Union and Vice President of the European Muslim League. 

CAGE was established ten years ago and began as a community website dedicated to publishing information about detainees held as part of the War on Terror. Today, it is a leading rights organisation in the UK, with survivors of the War on Terror and former Guantanamo Bay detainees among its ranks. With advocacy as its key objective, CAGE also has a strong media presence. 

The group has been at the forefront of uncovering some of the most disturbing aspects of the War on Terror. It uncovered the UK’s participation in rendition and torture for the first time in a report entitled “Fabricating Terrorism” . They also compiled the first comprehensive list of over 100 prisons used in the War on Terror since 2006 in another report called “Beyond the law”. 

CAGE has uncovered many cases of abuse, arbitrary detention and complicity in torture on the African continent too. One of CAGE’s case individuals, Ali Adorus, a Briton arbitrarily detained and tortured in Ethiopia, made the front-page of the British newspaper The Independent. 

CAGE’s launch in South Africa comes at a time when African countries are becoming increasingly involved in the War on Terror through their participation in AFRICOM, or by hosting “black sites” (secret prisons used to detain and interrogate suspects). Given the current international atmosphere of Islamophobia it is essential that a close watch is kept and reliable research done on recent moves by western countries to globalise anti-terror laws that are often at odds with human rights.

Amandla Thomas-Johnson, CAGE spokesman, reiterated that CAGE has been advocating for respect for the rule of law in the War on Terror for over a decade now and that they were pleased to be launching in a country famous for its rich heritage of struggle against injustice.


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:29:33 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=134
Women of Character, Courage and Commitment and the contribution of Refugee and Migrant Women http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=133

On Monday 25th August the ACTION Support Centre together with the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET) attended a meeting on refugee and migrant women in South Africa. This meeting was in partnership with the Department of Home Affairs, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa and the City of Johannesburg. One of the guest speakers of the meeting included Honorable Deputy Minister of the Department of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan and the Executive Director of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), Ms. Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane. 

The meeting highlighted the daily struggles and challenges faced by refugee and migrant women in South Africa, such as their inability to get their children into the South African schooling system because of lack of residence documentation. The panel provided an opportunity for questions to be asked and the Department of Home Affairs had officials who could provide assistance in answering personal questions members of the audience may have had regarding their cases or even seeking advice on their residence status. The meeting definitely provided some insights and learning as well as emphasized the importance of civil society and government working together to ensure that all migrant and refugee women have their voices heard and receive any form of assistance they require.


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:27:44 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=133
Questions & Answers session with Former President Mbeki http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=132 11 August 2014, Senate Hall, UNISA’ Pretoria campus

At the beginning of each semester, the Patron, former President Thabo Mbeki spends a few hours interacting with Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI) students. This is an opportunity to ask key questions on contemporary issues in South Africa, Africa and around the world.  

The Interactive Session addressed a number of issues ranging from African Renaissance, the Palestinian question, the US-Africa Summit, Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria, BRICS, International Solidarity and some local socio-economic and political challenges. 

Some of the useful points emerging from this session form part of this short brief. On the Palestinian question, the former President emphasised the role of South Africa in finding lasting solutions to the conflict in Gaza. This process involved sending a delegation led by Pahad and Zola and keeping the South African ambassador in Israel as part of the machinery to engage constructively with the Palestinian question. The former President also supported the call around boycotting Israeli products and the need to mobilise, organise and deepen solidarity not only with the people of Palestine, but in support of many other struggles around the world.

On the issue of Boko Haram, the former President emphasised a collective approach to addressing such challenges, including strengthening diplomatic ties and finding ways of tackling the root causes of such challenges. On BRICS there was a strong sense that this offers an opportunity to address the imbalance of power at global level and last that every African, including those in the Diaspora must continue working and contributing to the renewal of Africa 


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:25:39 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=132
ACTION Support Team: Youth Prospects in Developmental Landscape of Africa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=131

The ACTION Support Team held a workshop the 23rd August 2014 at Clamart House, Richmond in Johannesburg. Under the theme, “Youth Prospects in the Developmental Landscape of Africa”. 13 ACTION Support members attended the workshop. 

The workshop was an opportunity to connect and reflect on the development of the continent, while tackling various challenges encountered, in particular by young women. As we celebrate woman’s month, it was an opportunity for the women in the ACTION Support Team to contribute ideas on strategies to empower and integrate women in an environment dominated by men.

The Support Team then broke up in two small groups to make presentations on BRICS, the Post-2015 Agenda, education , and  (female) youth integration in the African Agenda 2063. 

The ACTION Support Team clearly stated that youth must design their own agenda based on their challenges, rather than having programmes imposed on them that are irresponsive and generally don’t reflect youth’s will. There is a need on the continent to revisit an appropriate continental strategy for youth employment and entrepreneurship, because as the African population grows bigger, there are high prospects of turmoil on the continent if youth demands are not addressed, and what happened in the case of Tunisia may spread over the world.  Also, the group advised that Africa must make sure that skills are transferred on the continent, as a means to empower Africans to develop and implement learned skills to build their continent. This alluded to the Chinese companies and others, which while transforming continent’s infrastructures should also provide locals with technologies and experience. 

The workshop was dynamic, enthusiastic, and participative and rich in learning. The ACTION Support Team thank its member for attending this workshop and invites others to join The ACTION Support Team.

Please contact Ulrich Bouelangoye, 011 482 7442/2453 ulrich@asc.org.za 


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:23:58 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=131
Applied Conflict Transformation Course http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=130

This year’s second ACT course took place from the 18th-22nd of August, enjoying a wide and dynamic attendance. Reflections from course participant and ACTION’s new intern, Tshimologo Makgokgoa are shared below.

When the course started there was a sense of global citizenship because so many countries were represented in the room. It gave a sense of common purpose to be reminded that we do not work in isolation to transform conflict, but that we share the goal with many others. The collective aim of participants was to learn more about the way conflict plays itself out, what its function is and how we can apply the tools we have learnt.

As the course was in motion, we started learning that conflict starts with the individual. In order to transform conflict, it has to start from within. The tools of analysis were an eye-opener for all, they made the group realise how conflict cannot be taken simply. There are attitudes, behaviours, root causes and different levels involved in the analysis of conflict. Conflict is far too complex to be taken lightly and given one solution that applies to all conflict. Another realization was that conflict is not always bad and positive conflict brings about change within the self and in society.

As the days progressed and field trips were taken, people began to understand there is a way to forgive after a scarring conflict like in the South African case. People started to understand that forgiveness and reconciliation are needed in order to progress as a country. People were encouraged to keep reflecting on what was happening, which for some became a transformation from within. 

Applied Conflict Transformation speakers came in and challenged our group to take action and engage with information in a critical way. This meant that every person within our group was tasked with transforming their own environments, using the tools given for the greater good; starting to see that information is structured in such a way that it benefits someone. Information is not as neutral as we were led to assume. The dominant narrative sometimes fails to tell the real version of a story.

By the end of the course people appreciated that we have a shared vision for Africa where Ubuntu informs our thought processes and actions; an Africa where there is development - economic, social and political. Many of the participants vowed to take the transformation to the ground and enable the ground to connect to policy makers.


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:20:57 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=130
Alexandra Stakeholders Workshop http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=129

Sometimes we take for granted the people on the ground, the locals, the social structures that are the backbone of any functioning society. However, this was not the case at the Stakeholders Workshop. The people in attendance and the information they shared proved that the citizens know what they want and are hungry for knowledge on how to move towards those goals.

The speakers for that day called on the people in attendance and the Local Peace Committee to remember the values of Ubuntu and humility. There was an agreement that our current social structures need an awakening and moral regeneration with more people taking responsibility. Patience Pashe’s speech was a reminder that peace is a work in progress, that peace cannot exist without development and that conflict sometimes serves to build this. Mrs. Pashe used simple examples that hit home to many individuals within the room.

Bishop Marcus, on the other hand, was very current with his speech, wanting people to be aware of their current affairs and start questioning why the situation is as it is. This served as a way for people to see how the government, corporate companies within Alex and the community itself was failing to improve their lives. It was indeed a wake up call; the Bishop did not shy away from being specific and controversial with his speech. 

The Gauteng Department of Community Safety was also there to chip in a few words of wisdom. Its Take Charge Campaign encouraged a partnership between people and the government. This was reiterated throughout the group discussions and even when Ambassador Nhlapo spoke of his experiences on the African Continent. The stakeholders were tasked with holding all institutions within Alex accountable. If more people realise what they deserve and how to get it, then the country is headed in the right direction.

Another notable contribution to the proceedings was that of CoRMSA (Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa) and its education about refugees as well as immigration. The Advocate Officer from there explained what CoRMSA does and what the South African Foreign Policy is on Refugees and Migrants. He clarified a lot of myths about why people are seeking refuge and helped people understand that foreign nationals are not a threat to South Africans. By the end of the workshop people were more informed and equipped to go to the different sectors they represent and inform them of lessons learnt. The workshop was made possible by the Alexandra Local Peace Committee in partnership with the ACTION Support Centre and the Gauteng Province Department of Community Safety.


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:20:04 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=129
Communiqé of the Fourth International Africa Peace and Conflict Resolution Conference http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=128

The ACTION Support Centre was represented at the 4th International Africa Peace and Conflict Resolution Conference, organised by the Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution (CAPCR) of California State University, Sacramento, USA and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). The following statement was issued by the delegates:

The delegates take cognisance of the wide array of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms identified across the world and Africa in particular, and the potential of these mechanisms to bolster access to justice and contribute to building a global culture of peace.  

In light of the recent passing of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, the delegates expressed their wish to dedicate this conference to the memory of the late great peacemaker and statesman. 

Delegates acknowledge the role played by traditional conflict resolution practices across Africa, and how these practices are largely based on dialogue, mediation and negotiation.

They recognise the need to better understand such traditional practices toward greater conflict resolution across the continent.

They understand that traditional conflict resolution practices are context-specific and may thus require a pragmatic approach when seeking applicability in broader contexts.

The delegates agree that ADR is increasingly being regarded and understood as a common pillar of good governance and social justice.

They commend the fact that Africa has made significant progress in the area of peace and security, but remain cognisant that access to justice is a crucial consideration in sustaining this positive trend. 

They thus agree on the need to mainstream ADR based on a wide array of identified positive dimensions associated with the practices of facilitated dialogue, mediation, conciliation and arbitration as well as their hybrid processes.  

They affirm that ADR may indeed be more appropriate in most, but not all, cases.

They understand that issues surrounding training, certification and proper regulation are integral to quality assurance which requires greater attention, monitoring, and reflection.

They agree that access to justice for the most vulnerable groups in society is a crucial concern which affects all aspects of society and thus warrants serious attention and urgent action.

The delegates acknowledge that where there is limited access to justice there will most likely be an absence of any durable peace.

They agree that contemporary information technology is bound to play a pivotal role in the advancement of ADR, and as such they recognise the prospects and challenges of online dispute resolution.

They acknowledge that ADR as well as peace studies is a growing field and a constantly evolving process, and that it increasingly drawing attention from a range of actors and stakeholders - with particular regard to the traditional legal community and civil society organisations.

They expressed that a deeper engagement between ADR and peace studies should be further considered and reconciled.

They particularly acknowledged interdisciplinary developments in terms of youth leadership, the environment and electoral disputes vis-‘a-vis ADR.

They acknowledge the important role of woman vis-‘a-vis ADR.

They recognized the importance of the role that the youth will play in the future, so that by the time they are our age they will already be imbued with ADR lessons and best practices.

As such:

I. They commit themselves to the further rigorous study of traditional African conflict resolution mechanisms as well as their effectiveness and applicability to broader contexts.

II. They recommend a greater consideration of the link between traditional conflict resolution mechanisms and the theory and practice of alternative dispute resolution.

III. They wish to advance a broader understudying, acceptance and establishment of ADR amongst a greater cross-section of society through further study and advocacy.

Expression of Gratitude to:

- Conference organisers;

- Presenters

- Participating organisations 


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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:18:57 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=128
SIERRA LEONE: Launch of Conflict Transformation Project in three Chiefdoms in Pujehun District http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=127 ACTION partner, the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), is launching a local Conflict Transformation Project in Sierra Leone, and have shared the following information about the project.  We encourage others in our network to also share updates on the Conflict Transformation work you are involved in.

Introduction:

Pujehun District in Southern Sierra Leone, West Africa, is one of the areas that suffered most in the hands of rebels, Kamajors and other destructive groups in the eleven-year war (1991-2002) in Sierra Leone.  Like all other districts in the country the war has left people in great fear of the reoccurrence of such a brutal and destructive war.  As the Government, Civil Society and NGOs are putting mechanisms in place to manage the peace gained there is need for locals to throw in their lot.

It is based on this judgment that Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) launched the project “Pees Taay Go” (Peace Always) in April 2014. The Project is funded by Finn Church Aid (FCA) working in Sierra Leone and Liberia with Headquarters in Helsinki. The main aim is to enable Traditional and Religious Leaders form a network of Traditional and Religious peacemakers to play a critical role in conflict prevention, mediation and resolution as well as development in their communities.

Specific Objective:

The project’s specific objective is to establish a culture of Non-Violence and sustainable living in three chiefdoms (YaKemo Kpukumu Krim – Y.K.K, Kpaka and Gallinas-Peri) in Pujehun District.

Outcomes:

(1)  An integrated structure of Religious and Traditional Actors established for transforming conflicts creatively.

(2)  Communities handling conflicts and challenges peacefully

Output

(1.1)  120 Religious and Traditional Leaders trained in Conflict Prevention, Mediation and Resolution Skills and engaged in Peace Building activities in 3 chiefdoms

(1.2)  A functioning peace Promotion Network of Religious and Traditional Leaders in 3 chiefdoms

(1.3)  A standardized system and processes of Conflict Prevention, Mediation and resolution agreed and used by the Peace Promotion Network in 3 Chiefdoms.

(2.1)  120 influential community actors trained in Conflict Transformation Skills and   engaged in Peace Building and Livelihood activities in 3 chiefdoms.

(2.2)  Functioning community Peace and Development committees in various sections and towns of the chiefdom spear heading sustainable livelihood activities.

(2.3)  Communities in 3 target chiefdoms are organized and advocating for improved governance and service delivery from the local authorities.

Activities:

The Project Activities will include :

  • Phased trainings in Peace and Human Rights principles and skills.
  • Conflict prevention, mediation and resolution activities in communities.
  • Inter chiefdom exchange visits and advocacy for improved governance and service delivery.
  • Clustered community Peace and Human Rights dialogue sessions.
  • Trained traditional and religious leaders undertaking Conflict Prevention, Mediation and Resolution activities.
  • Formation and functioning of Traditional and Religious Leaders Peacemakers Network.
  • Sustainable livelihoods activities.

Personnel of the project

  • Programme Director – Paul L. Koroma
  • Programme Manager – Jestina E. Olivant
  • Project Officer – Edward Kamanda
  • Community Peace Animator – Santigie Kanu
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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:11:50 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=127
ACTION Cape Town Office open from 15 September http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=126

The ACTION Office in Cape Town, located on the second floor of the District Six Museum (25 Buitenkant, Cape Town 8001), is now in use by the ACTION staff in Cape Town. The office provides a space for ACTION staff and members to meet and from which to organize in Cape Town. 

Those in the area are welcome to visit the office, where various materials and information are available, such as the latest Drums of Change issue, brochures on the African Solidarity Caravan, information about the Conflict Transformation Encounter, and information about other ongoing projects and programmes organized by the ACTION Support Centre.

The Cape Town Office is also working to arrange transport to the Conflict Transformation Encounter – contact Steven (steven@asc.org.za /060 653 4584)  and/or stop by the office for more information.

We are excited for collaborative opportunities and for the chance to better connect with friends of ACTION in Cape Town!

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Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:10:31 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=126
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