HAPPY MANDELA DAY!

 “The purpose of freedom is to create it for others.”
Nelson Mandela

As an organization that strives to build international consensus to help resolve conflicts especially in Africa, SALO will continue to be guided and inspired by the life, dreams and words of Nelson Mandela.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI LEGACY SEMINAR – 10 July 2018

The evident love and grief of millions of Zimbabweans across political divide for their former Prime Minister, after his passing on 14 February 2018, has affirmed his standing as a towering figure in Zimbabwe’s history. Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist and leader of democratic movements, led courageously in the darkest days for those movements and lived to see the end of President Mugabe’s rule. After the military ousted Mugabe, Tsvangirai was treated with respect by the new Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the state supported his funeral.

This seminar reflected on Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, his passing, legacy and developments since his death.

CHAIR:

Mr Thulasizwe Simelane, Senior Political Journalist, eNCA

SPEAKERS:

Prof Brian Raftopoulos,
Director of Research and Advocacy: Solidarity Peace Trust, SALO Board member

Dr Nkululeko Sibanda,
Presidential Spokesperson, MDC Alliance

Hon Priscila Misihairabwi Mushonga,
Member of Parliament, MDC

Brian Kagoro,
Zimbabweån activist and constitutional law expert

Ms Venitia Govender,
South African Solidarity Activist and SALO Founder Member

Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill – 28 June 2018

Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill

Pretoria, 28 June 2018

Keynote speaker:

Hon. John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development

 

On the 28th of June 2018, SALO in partnership with the Embassies of Norway and the Netherlands hosted a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill at the Sierra Burgers Park hotel in Pretoria. Stakeholders in attendance represented organisations such as Centre for Human Rights UP, Restorative Justice Centre (RJC), the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Access Chapter, Save the Children, the Embassies of Norway, Netherlands and Central African Republic. Opening remarks were made by Ambassador of Norway, Ms Trine Skymoen followed by keynote speaker, Hon. John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. The event was chaired by Dr Showers Mawowa.

The Ambassador of Norway, Ms Skymoen, spoke of Europe’s experience in witnessing a rise of right-wing and xenophobic rhetoric. The importance of hate crimes and speech bill is evident in the European context. She speaks of the interlinked issues of hate crime and hate speech as a rising global challenge which is somewhat a paradox considering society is becoming more accepting and diverse. Extremist movements strongly oppose diverse and inclusive societies and while being a minority, they cannot be ignored. Intolerance and hatred is not simply cured by economic progress and development. The dialogue nurtured robust and enlightening discussion surrounding the bill, but all were clear that we must stand together in fighting against hate speech and hate crimes.

Deputy Minister, John Jeffrey, gave an overview of the bill and its status, speaking to the importance of prosecuting related crimes but emphasising that the law will not be a solution to ‘unacceptably high’ levels of racism and hateful violence in South Africa. Following this, the session focused on debating the issues surrounding the bill, specifically in relation to hate speech. Right2Know raised concerns about how criminalising hate speech, could possibly criminalise freedom of expression and protest. LGBTQI activists spoke of the influence of Religious organisations who can still preach hate if it does not actively encourage violence. They state that hate crime can be directly linked to hate speech so hateful sermons can encourage violence against minorities. The bill was seen to be dealing with the branches of racism and hate rather than the roots. The RJC emphasised the importance of restorative justice and how it can prevent high levels of recidivism, something which the bill is lacking. This tied into the finals point raised on the importance of social cohesion and how we need to look at this issue from all dimensions and using all the instruments at our disposal.

Participants felt the presentation provided a good overview of the Bill and the following discussions were insightful and informative. Participants also found they were able to ask questions and voice opinions directly to the government. Going forward suggestions were made about engaging in certain topics around solutions such as social cohesion and social contract making in SA.

QUOTES:

“What I found most useful is the information that there’s still opportunity for public consultations with prominent figures” – Geoffery Uqwauo, Center for Human Rights

“Open Dialogue with sufficient time for discussion”- Gift Kgomosotho, SAHRC

“They offer dialogue that is informative”- Stanley Thabang Malata, RHS (PM)

SALO OBSERVES WORLD REFUGEE DAY, 20th JUNE

Refugees fleeing the DRC

Refugees fleeing the DRC

“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.” – Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General            

SALO’s refugee and migrants work:

As part of its principle of regional solidarity, SALO advocates at all levels to improve the position of migrants and refugees living in South Africa, as well as conditions for the poor and marginalised host communities within which many migrants live.

Of particular concern to SALO is the relationship between migrants from the region and South African citizens. As much as the South African government is taking a leading role in constructively engaging in conflicts on the continent, South Africa’s citizens are often not well informed about the history and present of other countries in Africa. Migrants are an important point of contact between ordinary citizens and the rest of the continent. Often, however, relations between migrants and citizens in South Africa has been characterised by conflict and discrimination rather than mutual exchange and learning.

A particularly egregious form of discrimination is xenophobic violence targeting foreign nationals. Since May 2008, when hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals were forcibly evicted from townships and informal settlements around the country and at least 62 people were killed, xenophobic violence has been in the public eye nationally, regionally and internationally, and high levels of violence against foreign migrants have continued since.

SALO works with South African communities through education campaigns on the nature and histories of conflicts in neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the DRC and Somalia. This is done through workshops and the presentation and discussion of videos about the conflicts. SALO has also produced a video about xenophobic violence.

The aims are to increase South African understanding of the reasons for migration from these countries as a means of increasing dialogue with migrants, as well as building a constituency for the South African government’s efforts to build peaceful resolutions to the crises in these countries.

SALO’s work to counter xenophobia and xenophobic violence, and to work particularly towards increasing the rights and voice of migrants and refugees from Zimbabwe and Swaziland, is supported by the Olof Palme International Centre among others. SALO works in partnership with a range of organisations including the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum; People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP); Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa.

SALO joins South Africans in commemorating Youth Day

The 16th of June marks the anniversary of the iconic 1976 student uprisings which took place in Soweto.  It is a day of solemn remembrance for the brave youth who were struck down while peacefully rising up in rejection of the Apartheid regime’s inferior education system for black students. It is also a day for celebrating the essential role of youth in our society, as vibrant catalysts for change, and the torch bearers of our nation’s future.

We join South Africans in commemorating Youth Day.  As a civil society organisation we believe that it is our responsibility to confront our past, to challenge the future and to promote a more equal and sustainable society and region.  In light of the incredible international solidarity shown to the people of South Africa – which ultimately crippled Apartheid South Africa’s economy – South Africa has a responsibility to repay its historic debt to the world by playing a role in bringing about a more just world for all.  SALO believes that the work we do plays a part in that larger picture, both in seeking solutions to conflicts on our continent, and in bringing about awareness and behaviour change around issues such as homophobia, gender based violence and xenophobia.

Cognizant of the important role of the youth in affecting social change, SALO strives to mainstream youth participation in all aspects of our work. SALO places a strong focus on working with youth in our community-based anti-xenophobia, LGBTI rights and gender-based violence programmes.  SALO’s network includes youth from a wide array of political and student organisations, however SALO strives to prioritise the voices of black youth living in townships.

SawaSouthSudan virtual summit connecting women activists in South Sudan to leaders from around the world

SawaSouthSudan, a virtual summit streamed from Nairobi connecting women activists in South Sudan to leaders from around the world

 Date: 25th of May – Africa Day

Venue: Sierra Burgers Park Hotel

Hosted by SALO 

SAWA South Sudan was a virtual summit being streamed from Nairobi, Kenya. Its aim was to connect women activists in South Sudan with women leaders and activists from around the world. Speakers ranged from former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson to Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director at Oxfam International and Dr Koiti Emmily, medic at Juba Teaching Hospital.

It recognised the growing issues and conflict occurring in South Sudan as well as the lack of impactful responses in bringing resolution. The importance of women and their role in peace and reconciliation was raised as a paramount factor if South Sudan is ever to have sustainable peace.

The conflict itself is worsening with systematic state and militant force abuses inflicted on the civilian population. Human rights abuses are reported daily, and the issue of sexual abuse is becoming a rampant problem. With women making up over 60% of the population, events like SawaSouthSudan play a critical role in raising these issues and how we can empower more women to take an active role in fighting for human rights and for the betterment of their country.

SALO was delighted to have partners from the ANC, the South Sudanese Embassy and the Institute of Global Dialogue (IGD) present at our viewing function. There was lively conversation towards the end on the issues mentioned above as well as what more needs to be done to support South Sudan from South Africa.

The summit reached more than 115 million people on social media, with viewing events in 25 countries. The success of this campaign shows the importance of social media in spreading awareness around the globe.