Time for civil society to rise and reorganise


There are quite a few and various ills and evils that want consideration: femicide, corruption, substance use, psychological well being. The listing is lengthy. A lot of our issues have roots in exclusion, marginalisation and denial of human rights that are actually intrinsic to capitalist economics. The problem is to show societal threats into alternatives and on this respect, there are some apparent challenges that every one of civil society in South Africa should put together for within the 12 months forward.

“You could shoot me along with your phrases,

You could reduce me along with your eyes,

You could kill me along with your hatefulness,

However nonetheless, like air, I’ll rise.”

Maya Angelou, Nonetheless I Rise

This week many non-governmental and civil society organisations are opening their doorways once more to renew campaigns for human rights and social justice. However with starvation not occurring vacation many activists took little day off. Some discovered it onerous to cease ‘work’ within the midst of an unprecedented disaster. From early December the second wave of Covid-19 broke cruelly over many communities, robbing well being care staff particularly of the prospect of relaxation – so dying and illness didn’t obey the calendar both. 

We salute these selfless heroes.

Within the final days of 2020, many individuals lamented the horrible yr and wished that 2021 may be extra light and forgiving. Sadly, that’s most likely a forlorn hope: even with a number of vaccines now registered Covid-19 is way from over; the local weather disaster nonetheless gathers; austerity economics nonetheless infects South Africa’s authorities and unemployment has by no means been greater. 

Every of those components eviscerate the hunt for equality and the realisation of human rights. Within the 25th yr of the democratic Structure they problem its social justice cornerstone.  This implies one factor: for social justice activists, 2021 goes to be yet one more demanding yr. 

The worst of occasions will demand the very best of activists.

So, as we ponder the yr forward, the place can we begin?

Lately, the world holds a lot that’s unpredictable and onerous to plan for. At first of 2020, for instance, how many individuals had deliberate for an as but unnamed viral pandemic, Covid-19? Disruption is a brand new regular — and activists have to be ready for it. 

There are quite a few and various ills and evils that want consideration: femicide, corruption, substance use, psychological well being. The listing is lengthy. A lot of our issues have roots in exclusion, marginalisation and denial of human rights that are actually intrinsic to capitalist economics. The problem is to show societal threats into alternatives and on this respect, there are some apparent challenges that all of civil society in South Africa should put together for within the 12 months forward. 

Beneath are what we expect are the large 5 points on which united motion is important:

(1)  The Covid-19 ‘Folks’s Vaccine’ marketing campaign: the federal government has now set a goal of vaccinating 40 million individuals. It calculates that that is the quantity wanted to attain herd immunity from Covid-19. This appears monumental however it isn’t inconceivable and the civil society coalition being constructed across the Folks’s Vaccine marketing campaign has a significant constructive function to play in reaching this. 

Nevertheless, guaranteeing vaccine take up and overcoming a concerted misinformation marketing campaign by vaccine denialists, would require community-based vaccine schooling and literacy campaigns to happen at scale (and never over Zoom it may be added).

Happily, we now have a workable mannequin within the Remedy Motion Marketing campaign’s (TAC) programmes to create group remedy literacy for the anti-retroviral roll out within the early 2000s. 

However vaccine literacy requires that activists get again into communities that are, anyway, the place you should be for the 2021 native authorities elections (challenge 2). 

Over the past 5 years, it has change into the norm that state failure and corruption is felt largely within the collapse of primary companies at native authorities stage. Nevertheless, there’s a probability to place a halt to this in the midst of this yr when elections happen. Folks really feel disempowered by the political gangsters who run many cities and cities. However mockingly, our Structure (in Chapter 7) and our legal guidelines give individuals nice energy to demand accountability from native authorities (learn and share this Activists’ Guide to Making Local Government Work). However most individuals are usually not conscious of their energy. 

Let’s agree: elections are a social justice challenge and participatory democracy can nonetheless be made to work. However to do that, mass community-based voter schooling and solidarity are wanted to beat voter hesitancy and despair, particularly amongst younger individuals. The latest presidential elections within the US reminded us of the ability the vote nonetheless holds over tyrants and fascists. In a state like Georgia, energy was regained after activists, led by civil society organisations and people like Stacey Abrams, went again onto the streets to steer extraordinary individuals to take again management of presidency. 

The identical lesson should apply right here. However it’s one factor to vote. It’s one other to make the vote work for change.

Communities are additionally the place we have to be to have conversations about local weather disaster (challenge three). Covid literacy and local weather literacy ought to be made two sides of the identical coin. Though in 2020 Covid-19 knocked the local weather disaster out of the headlines, lockdowns lowered industrial output and fewer journey gave our planet some reduction. But, 2020 was the hottest year on record. 

And don’t a lot of our communities realize it.

The report temperatures of 2020 remind us that with out elevated urgency to sluggish carbon emissions and campaigns to cease the despoilment of the environment, we won’t halt world heating and the chaos and distress that it portends. 

The filmmaker David Attenborough’s shifting “witness assertion”, A Life On Our Planet, is a testomony to what this implies for nature and the animal kingdom. Mass migrations, meals insecurity and in the end conflict are an early harbinger of what it means for human beings.

On the finish of final yr, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a Climate Change Coordinating Commission. However the large query is whether or not it’ll act with urgency, bravery and imaginative and prescient; or will it change into the newest in an extended listing of presidential advisory committees the place activists are muzzled and tied down in limitless course of and process? That is determined by the great men and women from civil society inside it. 

A superb assertion of intent by the fee can be to recognise the work that has already been executed by activists on local weather justice and endorse the Climate Justice Charter, that was offered to Parliament final yr.

Local weather change and Covid-19 is inflicting a lack of livelihoods and jobs on an unprecedented scale. This makes any additional delay in introducing a Primary Earnings Grant (challenge four) unpardonable. 

This yr, in its 8th January statement the ANC promised to “proceed discussions on the desirability and viability of a primary earnings grant to supply a social security internet to the poor.” That is progress, however not adequate. “Discussions” have been going down for 25 years. Now’s the time for civil society to up the marketing campaign and demand a call and a timeframe for implementation.

Which brings us to our fifth proposed precedence. 

One of many revolting options of Covid-19 has been that the ultra-rich have gotten richer and the poor have been made to hold the can. If our society is to be rebuilt we want a sturdy, succesful and motivated state. Sadly, on the finish of 2020, the Labour Attraction Courtroom handed down a judgment (learn here) to help the federal government’s choice to renege on its three-year pay settlement to public sector staff as a result of it’s deemed “unaffordable”. The courtroom cited the Structure and Covid-19 disaster and pitted public sector staff’ salaries in opposition to the price social grants and different urgent wants; they missed the truth that the frontline staff most chargeable for delivering the socio-economic rights — to health, education, social security, housing, sanitation and so on — in our Constitution are the very individuals we deal with most shabbily. The unions say they’re interesting this choice to the Constitutional Courtroom. Civil society ought to be 200% behind them. Sure, financial savings are to be made, however there are higher locations to look than within the pockets of largely low-paid staff.

To catalyse dialogue and planning, Maverick Citizen believes that these are points that all of progressive pro-poor civil society ought to debate and rally round, at the same time as particular person organisations proceed to pay attention most of their efforts on the one points and areas on which they’ve developed experience.

From our aspect, these are a number of the key points that Maverick Citizen will probably be persistently following and reporting on this yr. 

As you come to your trenches, we want you energy. As has been the case all through historical past, humanity’s future is determined by your efforts and supreme success. DM/MC

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