A Durban conference emphasises the need for collaboration and involvement of the grassroots in policy discussions
The Durban conference on South Africa, Peace and Security in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and a Deepening Pan-African Culture of People-to-people Solidary Conference held at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal took place on the 10th and 11th of June 2015 and approximately 63 participants representing civil society organisations, academics, and various African nationals attended for the first day and 54 were present on the 2nd day.
A Presentation by Sambulo of the Southern Africa Liaison Office (SALO) on Peace, Security and Development nexus in Africa and its connection to the Post-2015 Development Agenda revealed that post-2015 Development Agenda is a more inclusive and transparent process than its predecessor, the MDGs. The fact was emphasized that the continent’s fate is a shared one, which calls for a reflection on how to implement and domesticate the development agenda and how the agenda would be financed. Of importance to SALO as an organisation is that it espouses the principles of peace, security, development and human rights. Amongst some of its initiatives, it has one on one meetings with stakeholders, engages in dialogues with stakeholders behind closed doors and facilitates grassroots dialogues.
The role of South Africa and regional organisations in promoting peace and security issues in the Post-2015 Development Agenda was a topic that was well articulated by Senator Sekai Holland from Zimbabwe. Without African Regional Organisations (e.g. SADC, AU) there would be no forums where people can come together to share their struggles and possible solutions to the problems encountered by the continent. To connect the African trajectory, we must be really linked to the grassroots and come up with structures that can positively affect the grassroots. It’s important to find ways in which the grassroots can organise themselves such that their ideas would be shared at the level of state leaders. Also, the work and activities of civil society organisations must be based at the grassroots level.
Group discussions saw participants debating around the question of how inequality and access to resources contribute to the on-going conflict in South Africa and the African continent. On discussing the issue of public participation, the group raised the following issues; lack of public participation of communities; nonfulfillment of political elite promises; selfishness of the political elite as a barrier to communities’ life enhancement. Steps to be taken include empowering the communities/people; effective and immediate bottom up approaches; media to give true and reliable information to communities; and availability of programmes like the ones by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) to be made available to more communities.