Maverick Citizen: Seven Days

Civil Society Watch, 20-26 January 2020

By Mark Heywood 20 January 2020
Caption
A child stands on a rock ledge next to a shack where he keeps pigeons on 18 October, 2012 on the outskirts of the Meqheleng township, South Africa. Meqheleng was the home of the late community activist Andries Tatane. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Herman Verwey)

A weekly feature to inform readers of a cross-section of events organised by civil society organisations.

Activists never rest and they don’t sleep much either. That’s because injustice and oppression do not keep office hours. In fact, it often chooses the times when folk are asleep to do the most harm. Every week there are hundreds of activities organised by civil society. Many are newsworthy, but few are reported.

As a result, this week Maverick Citizen introduces a weekly feature that will inform our readers of a cross-section of the demonstrations, seminars, meetings and other events being organised by civil society organisations over the next seven days.

Monday 20 January will see the start of the inquest in Johannesburg into the death of Dr Neil Aggett, a doctor and trade unionist who was murdered by the security police in 1982. The inquest is taking place after years of advocacy by civil society organisations such as the Friends of Neil Aggett and the Foundation for Human Rights. The family will be represented pro-bono by veteran human rights lawyer Moray Hathorn.

On the other side of Johannesburg, Oxfam will launch its 2020 annual inequality report to coincide with the annual meeting of the Despicable Me’s in Davos. This year the report, titled A Time to Care, will focus on the cost of the unpaid care work of billions of women around the globe, making the case that if women’s work was recognised and remunerated it would make a huge dent in inequality. Is that too much to ask in the 21st century? The report will be available at www.oxfam.org/en

Meanwhile, in Magashule-land the Treatment Action Campaign will lead a picket outside the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court to demand that bail not be granted to suspects accused of stealing more than R2-million worth of ARVs which were found in the boot of their car, destined for sale on the black market. There will also be an appearance in Ventersburg on Tuesday.

And in the Eastern Cape, the Uviwe Child Protection Services and the Bay Friendship Club launches an initiative to bring ebooks to vulnerable children in Nelson Mandela Bay.

On Wednesday 22 January at 6.30pm the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) are hosting the premiere of a new film from Uhuru productions, titled How to Steal a Country. Fortunately, due mainly to whistleblowers and mobilisation by civil society, the Gupta-Zuma job didn’t succeed. The film will be a timely reminder of what was at stake.

Thursday 23 January is the date of the release of the Annual Corruption Perceptions Index: in 2018 out of 180 Countries, South Africa was number 73 and scored 43 out of a possible 100 points. Corruption Watch will be covering this in the week. Also on 23 January, the Amadiba Crisis Committee will be holding a meeting regarding their opposition to the building of the N2 Highway toll road through Mbizana, as well as their service delivery concerns.

The fires that still burn in Australia are a reminder that climate heating is not fake news — 2020 is therefore going to see more and more intense and angry activism against climate denialists, complacent governments and fossil-fuel companies. And it won’t just be in another country. Thus, on Friday 24 January the Gauteng branch of Extinction Rebellion will hold its weekly picket of the Gauteng legislature to demand the Gauteng Parliament declare a climate emergency. Lone (but not for long) Parktown High School for Girls activist and matric student Raeesah Noor-Mahomed will start her own weekly boycott of classes; and, in Port Elizabeth, Fridays For Future will be gathering at Shark Rock Pier raising awareness about climate change.

Activists need exercise, so it’s worth reminding readers that at 8am every Saturday, at 224 parks across South Africa, volunteers organise the weekly 5km park run: Free For Everyone, Forever. Whether you run or walk or go with children or pets, park run is a way to rebuild communities. Find your nearest park run here.

Also on Saturday 25 January Nalane for Reproductive Justice is hosting an Advocacy & Champion Building Workshop for nurses in Polokwane. The workshop, led by Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights advocate Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, aims to build champion nurses who advocate on behalf of patients and for universal access to comprehensive and evidence-based reproductive healthcare such as abortion services. RSVP via this link.

The week ends on Sunday 26 January when, in Johannesburg, a meeting of Friends of Xolobeni will take place. The location of this meeting is not being publicised to prevent the attendance of spies from foreign mining companies, including the Australian predator, Mineral Commodities Ltd, which has just upped its SLAPP suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) against activist John Clarke to R10-million.

As this week unfolds Maverick Citizen will continue to bring you daily reports from the frontline of civil society activism in South Africa and the world. However, in the light of the Oxfam report, our focus this week will be on inequality, the economy and some of the alternative ideas for inclusive and green economic growth being put forward by activists and NGOs. MC

If you have events or meetings which you think other activists ought to know about, write to us at: [email protected]

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