Happy Freedom Day South Africa!

As we mark this important day, may the words of our icon and founding father echo throughout our land, “Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement”, Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994. Happy Freedom Day South Africa!

But what does freedom mean for the young people of this nation? Here are some views from the young people at SALO.


For me, freedom means having the ability and the right to express myself. The ability to live in a society where everyone is equal and to take into account the immense responsibility of having that freedom, given the sacrifice that many gave for me and everyone to attain that freedom”, Athenkosi Thoba.



Freedom to me is Choice! Which school I want to attend, what profession I’d like to go into and who I want to marry, where I’d like to live, travel at will. These were not just restricted by race but by gender” Jessey Matlou.


Freedom to me means living in a society that values the importance and contribution of women in leadership roles, and where the choices I make for myself are not determined by surviving structural patriarchy” Daisy Mbutho.




To me, freedom is living in a world with people who have boundless love for each other and a world absent of greed and arrogance. If we eliminate the thought “I deserve better, and I am better than you” we can achieve freedom. You simply cannot hurt or oppress another person if you regard them as highly as yourself, so to me it starts with a change in mindset towards one another.”

Kgamanyane Precious Malete

“Freedom to me is being able to take it for granted in my day-to-day life that my husband and I are complete equals before the law.  It pains me to think that this wasn’t the case for my grandmother, and still isn’t the reality for so many women in 2018.” – Marissa van Rensburg


We have come far, but the long walk to freedom is not yet over.

SALO April 2018

SALO mourns the loss of Ambassador George Nene – 7 April 2018

SALO mourns the loss of Ambassador George Nene who was a Senior Associate of SALO. Our heart goes out to his family and friends during this very difficult time.

DIRCO Media statement:

07 April 2018

Minister Sisulu extends condolences to the family and friends of the late Ambassador George Nene

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon Lindiwe Sisulu, has extended her condolences and those of the DIRCO family to the family and friends of former Ambassador to Nigeria and Switzerland, Ambassador George Nene, who passed away on Friday, 06 April 2018.

Minister Sisulu said Ambassador Nene ranks among the top diplomats the ANC and the Government of South Africa ever deployed across the world. “South Africans must celebrate the contribution Ambassador Nene made to the fight against apartheid and his role in the development of our relations with various countries across the world. We have lost one of our best diplomats at a time when we still need their experience and wisdom,” said Minister Sisulu.

Ambassador George Nene was the chairperson of the South African Association of Former Ambassadors, South Africa’s first High Commissioner to Nigeria; former Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations in Geneva; former Deputy Director- General Multilateral (DIRCO).

Details of the memorial service and funeral will be communicated during the week.


460 Soutpansberg Road


07 April 2018


The African National Congress has learned with sadness the passing of a seasoned diplomat and life long revolutionary Ambassador Nene who lived his life serving the people of South Africa.

To us this is a double blow as we are still mourning the death of our revolutionary icon and stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The role that Ambassador Nene played in the liberation of our country cannot be measured.

Ambassador Nene did not only occupy death defying trenches of the liberation struggle, he was counted amongst those who held the flag of country flying high in the process of carving the role of South Africa on the international platforms.

His role and contribution is the legacy that we will always treasure as we continue to work towards the transformation of the world governance. To his family we extend condolences and may his soul rest in peace.

Issued by the African National Congress


Pule Mabe 071 6234 975

National Spokesperson

SALO Deputy Director, Dr Showers Mawowa at World Bank Fragility Forum in Washington DC

In March 2018, SALO Deputy Director, Dr Showers Mawowa attended the World Bank Fragility Forum in Washington DC under the theme, Managing Risks for Peace and Stability. Dr Mawowa (centre) was one of the presenters for panel discussion on Forging Resilient Social Contracts where he presented findings from a co-authored (with Prof Erin McCandless of Wits University on the right) research paper on Social Contract Making and the Building of Sustainable Peace in Zimbabwe.

In the picture from the right, Dr Showers Mawowa, Deputy Director, SALO; Hon Deqa Yasin Hagi, Minister of Women and Human Rights, Somalia and Prof Erin McCandless, Associate Professor, Wits University and Research Director, Forging Resilient Social Contract Research and Dialogue Project.

Celebrating South Africa’s hard-won rights on Human Rights Day – 21 March 2018

Human Rights Day is a day for celebration, as well as solemn reflection. South Africa’s Bill of Rights is world-renowned for its inclusive protection of Human Rights, making SA one of the first countries in history to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

SA’s Bill of Rights:
“The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth”

As we know, SA’s past was characterised by institutionalised Human Rights abuse. Human Rights Day presents an opportunity for us to solemnly reflect on the suffering of millions of South Africans at the hands of the Apartheid regime, and to appreciate the immense sacrifice and bravery of those who struggled to secure the rights and freedoms enshrined today.

As President Ramaphosa indicated in his State of the Nation Address, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all South Africans can enjoy these progressive human rights in practical terms. With the aim of tackling violent discrimination against LGBTI persons living in townships specifically, SALO is currently convening a series of community dialogues around this issue in Soweto. These community dialogues are supported by the Dutch and Irish Embassies, and facilitate candid discussion between national government leaders and relevant community stakeholders including religious leaders, youth leaders, community leaders and taxi operators.

SALO welcomes the appointment of Minister Lindiwe Zulu as Chair of the ANC’s International Relations Committee

SALO wishes to extend its heartfelt congratulations to the incoming Chair of the ANC’s International Relations Committee, Minister Lindiwe Zulu.   The Minister’s appointment brings considerable skill and talent to the committee – with her vast experience and achievements as a seasoned foreign policy practitioner, both in the liberation struggle and in continuous service to the Post-Apartheid government, including as International Relations Advisor to President Zuma.

More importantly for SALO, Minister Zulu stands out as having displayed a strong commitment to human rights and social justice throughout our more than ten years of working together – supporting her as the SADC mediator for Zimbabwe, and as associates in the EU-SA Peace and Security Dialogue. Through working with the Minister in her various capacities over the years, we have come to know that women’s empowerment, pro-poor policies, regional integration and the protection of human rights are issues close to the Minister’s heart.  SALO therefore welcomes and looks forward to working with such a highly capable, human rights -focused International Relations Committee Chair.     

Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu, then-International Relations Advisor in the Presidency

“SALO has the capacity to engage people in dialogue, including those who are in conflict with each other. SALO’s experience in dialogue is something that needs to be emulated, as dialogue is the best way of resolving any conflict… we will continue to work as closely as possible with SALO, and hopefully this will result in taking the continent to a higher level of peace, security and stability.”

Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu, International Relations Advisor to the SA President and a member of the SA/SADC Facilitation Team for Zimbabwe. (May 2011 Workshop Pretoria)

“I think before I get directly to the topic itself, I’d like to thank SALO for organising this workshop. I think that it is an important workshop and we believe as the facilitation team that such gatherings are very important for us… This dialogue in my opinion must not be the beginning and the end now. I think this dialogue must be continuous because the questions that I get from here help me as I go again to engage with the facilitators. As we go and engage, they keep ringing in my head: what about this? What about that? It’s not that we’ll think of everything, but if we continuously engage like this, I’m sure that we will get somewhere.”


(September 2011 Workshop Pretoria)  “I wish to thank SALO first and foremost  for arranging this meeting, also because, as I said  the last time I was here, the work that we are doing as the Facilitation Team – but also the work that everybody else is doing in trying to address the challenges that we have – needs to be communicated.”


Op-Ed: #MeToo #HerToo – disparity in Africa

Written by Cormac Smith (First Published on the 28th of Feb 2018: 


Photo: Women demonstrate during a rally #MeToo against gender-based and sexual violence against women on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Lausanne, Switzerland, 25 November 2017. The United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. EPA-EFE/LAURENT GILLIERON

Social media facilitated the spread of the #MeToo #HerToo awareness campaigns, but certain places do not have the same privilege of access we do. Places where sexual violence has become everyday life and continues with impunity. Places where survivors are rarely seen or heard. By CORMAC SMITH.

The success of the #MeToo campaign in 2017 has undoubtedly empowered many survivors of sexual abuse to talk about their own experiences. Following the Hollywood scandal, millions of #MeToo revelations surged through social media platforms sparking a new-found awareness of unwanted sexual activity while giving power to those who were too afraid or unable to speak out. It’s hard to imagine how the horrific actions of prominent Hollywood “A-listers” could have propelled a social media movement onto the global stage with such ferocity, particularly since a similar movement had begun 10 years previous by a black activist to reach underprivileged communities. The original concept of this movement though was to give a voice to the voiceless in these communities. Social media facilitated the spread of this awareness campaign, but certain places do not have the same privilege of access that we do. Places where sexual violence has become everyday life and continues with impunity. Places where survivors are rarely seen or heard.

We know that sexual violence disproportionately impacts the poorest and most vulnerableso there is cause for concern in recognising that many will continue to suffer in silence. The prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence in Africa has been deeply troubling with significantly higher rates of prevalence compared to western countries. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), over a period of 36 months (January 2005 – December 2007), Malteser International identified 20,500 female Congolese rape survivors in the South Kivu province alone. The figure at the time of this research was undoubtedly much higher with many women and men unable or unwilling to report with a survey completed by Malteser finding that 73% of South Kivu residents knew someone who was a rape survivor. Researchput forward in 2011 suggests that “approximately 1.69 to 1.80-million women reported having been raped in their lifetime (with 407, 397–433,785 women reporting having been raped in the preceding 12 months), and approximately 3.07 to 3.37-million women reported experiencing intimate partner sexual violence”.

This epidemic of sexual violence has grounds in conflict-related outcomes but also ties to increasing levels of gender-based violence as a norm. Gender disparity or inherent gender inequality is an underlying root cause of epidemic sexual violence in the DRC, and arguably around the world, yet the sheer scale is widely unreported. Interviews with survivors and civil society organisations indicate that women and girls do not have the same value as men and boys and with many pointing to cases were rape is deemed as accepted as normative behaviour.

We see similar accepted norms in Central African Republic where rebel commanders not only ignore sexual abuse by their soldiers but advocate it as a weapon of war or indeed have committed the act themselves. Women who go about daily activities and essentials such as farming, buying food, bringing their children to school, have reported some form of sexual violence as well as abduction, physical beatings, and, in some cases, sexual slavery. Cases documented in a Human Rights Watch report show that these crimes “are not only crimes under Central African law, but constitute war crimes”. Similar crimes occur in many conflict or impoverished countries where entrenched gender inequality becomes endemic and seemingly unbreakable.

A large majority of survivors in these countries do not have access to internet let alone a mobile device. Their silence is deafening.

While the #MeToo has spread somewhat to the developing world, there remains a disparity in voices heard. The reason for this is predominantly due to lack of access to internet facilities or essential health services. There is also a clear disparity in gender and internet usage. In the developed world, more women have access to phones yet in the developing world, it is the other way around. The gender gap has narrowed in most regions since 2013 but it has widened in Africa where the proportion of women using the Internet is 25% lower than of men.

According to the 2017 global ICT report completed by the Information Technology Union (ITU), an UN specialised agency for ICTs, internet penetration for women across the African continent is at 18.6%. These figures will be naturally much lower in conflict countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.

In a 2014 report on the DRC, 39% of households had mobile phones, with a large gap between urban (79%) and rural (21%) areas. In 2016, the percentage of people using the internet in DRC was 6.2% with 4% in CAR. Compare this with France where internet usage was at 85.6%. With very limited access to internet, survivors of abuse in these countries cannot see the global movement that is empowering people who chose to talk about their experiences. More needs to be done to support the men, women and children in these conflict countries who suffer sexual abuse.

Civil society group and international aid agencies have people on the ground doing essential work in supporting survivors, but the scale of the issue cannot be tackled by them alone. UN peacekeeping forces, while trying to maintain security for some, have been found to engage in sexual exploitation with the very survivors they are supposed to protect. Some women, and under-age girls, are forced into sex work to help feed their families and even exchange sex for promise of protection.

With recent events in Haiti concerning Oxfam, more and more stories arise where aid agencies workers are found to exploit conflict or disaster zones. While these abuses need to be tackled aggressively, movements like #MeToo need also to shine light on the magnificent work that is done right. If the campaign truly has the financial backing of some of the most power celebrities in the world, surely they can advocate for more support and research on sexual abuse in impoverished/conflict countries. #MeToo and its follow up campaigns of #HerToo and #TimesUp need to define what their purpose is as a global movement and embrace ways where they stand by the sides of all women. DM

Cormac Smith is a Research and Advocacy Officer at the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO)

Photo: Women demonstrate during a rally #MeToo against gender-based and sexual violence against women on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Lausanne, Switzerland, 25 November 2017. The United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. EPA-EFE/LAURENT GILLIERON


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Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s veteran opposition leader has died at the age of 65.  

May 2010- BIC workshop at which he was the main speaker.

“Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to be with you today. In particular, I wish to recognize Ambassador Sten Rylander who has not only been a strong supporter of SALO, but has, over many years, proven himself to be a true friend of the people of Zimbabwe in their quest for a truly democratic society.”

Click on the link below for the full Policy Dialogue Report:

May-2010-Policy-Dialogue-Report-No-3 – Building International and Regional Consensus Policy Dialogue Report Zimbabwe No.3: Transitional Challenges, the GPA and the International Response (27th May 2010, Keynote speaker Honourable Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai)

In memory of Ms Lineo Chabana

SALO’s heart goes out to Lineo’s close family and friends particularly her son Bokamoso, her mother, three sisters Rethabile, Thato and Puseletso. 

Obituary: Lineo J. Chabana (1988 – 2018)

Ms Lineo Chabana was born in Matatiele on 21 January 1988 to Gerald and Flora Chabana and was the second of four siblings.

She completed her primary schooling at King Edward (Matatiele), and proceeded with her high school education at St Barnabas College, in Johannesburg, where she completed her Matric.

She obtained her BA Honours in Public Management at the University of Johannesburg, and was finalizing her Masters in Diplomatic Studies at the University of Pretoria.

Lineo assumed duty at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on 01 August 2014, as a Research Assistant (Assistant Director) in the Minister’s Office. She later joined the Directorate: Politics, Governance, Peace and Security Research (formerly known as PRAU) where she served until her passing on 13 January 2018.

As Colleagues we honour her positive legacy as a dedicated foreign service officer and the exemplary manner in which she served and promoted our country’s national interests.

She will be sorely missed by her son Bokamoso, her mother, three sisters Rethabile, Thato and Puseletso,  extended family, friends and colleagues.

Robala ka khotso MaMohlakoane

Lineo was a former SALO staff member.

Poem taken from memorial service programme:

Missing you always

You never said I’m leaving

You never said goodbye

You were gone before we knew it

And no one knows why.


A million times I needed you

A million times I’ve cried

if love alone could have saved you

you never would have died


In life I loved you dearly

In death I love you still

In my heart I hold a place

that only you can fill.

Video Screening and Community Dialogue on Zimbabwe – 15 December 2017

On the 15th of December 2017 SALO held a video screening and debate on the current and previous situation on Zimbabwe. There were 28 participants comprised of community members, Mighty healers church youth group and members of the ANC ward 89, of the 28 participants 13 were female and 15 were male.

The objective of the workshop was to educate and provide platforms for debate around issues concerning the current situation in Zimbabwe with local community leaders and community members in general.