Maverick Citizen

Civil society watch, 31 August – 4 September

By Shani Reddy 31 August 2020

File Photo: LIMPOPO, SOUTH AFRICA – MARCH 18: Mpepule Primary School pupils share their supper on March 18, 2016 in Limpopo, South Africa. Pupils and teachers at Mpepule primary are forced to sleep in the classrooms because there’s no transport to take them home. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu)

This week, trade talks and economic development in Africa feature prominently and while other organisations turn to child hunger, gender-based violence remains a significant topic.

This week’s highlights: Questions that need answers

A famous revolutionary once wrote that “politics is concentrated economics”. Not surprisingly, in South Africa, the focus is increasingly on our economic recovery strategy.

Debate is raging here and internationally around the Covid-19 economic moment – how to confront deep fault lines in societies and reset our economy. To help think through these issues, and to ensure that economics delivers social justice, the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), together with Maverick Citizen, is hosting a new webinar series that will examine these challenges.

The first webinar in this series will take place on Thursday, 3 September, at 11am and will cover a range of topics, including a feminist economic response to Covid-19 and a universal Basic Income Grant.

The event will be facilitated by activist economist and member of the Presidential Economics Advisory Council, Ayabonga Cawe in conversation with the IEJ’s team of researchers and economists.


The focus on economics continues with the African Programme on Rethinking Development Economics (APORDE) launching a series of public seminars on issues related to economic development in Africa.

On Monday, 31 August, at 2.30pm, Carlos Lopes will host the annual Alice Amsden memorial lecture. The topic: The latest of the late – industrialisation in Africa. Register here.

On Tuesday, 1 September, at 2.30pm, authors Chris Cramer, John Sender and Arkebe Oqubay bring you the launch of their book African Economic Development – Evidence, Theory, Policy. Register here.

On Wednesday, 2 September, at 2.30pm, join Busi Sibeko, Léonce Ndikumana and Duma Gqubule as they discuss Africa’s economic responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Register here.

And on a linked issue – trade – the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance and several other organisations have jointly organised a series of interactive webinars on the overall theme of strengthening the multilateral trading system to promote inclusivity and development.

The webinars will include trade talks and panel discussions by a former minister, current and former trade negotiators and prominent experts in the field of international trade on different aspects of multilateral trading systems.

Two webinars will be hosted this week: The first will be held on Wednesday at 1.30pm and will focus on the prospects and challenges of strengthening the multilateral trading system to foster development. Register here.

The second webinar, which takes place on Thursday, 3 September at 1.30pm, will be hosted by the Centre for WTO Studies, with panellists discussing what is on the table and what needs to be done for world trade organisation reform. Register here.

The rest of the week…

As Monday, 31 August, marks the last day of Women’s Month, the Gender Justice and Human Development programme (Durban University of Technology) and the Human Science Research Council will host a seminar on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF).

Join panellists Dr Nechama Brodie and Tamara Braam as they discuss reinvigorating South Africa’s response to the government’s National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.

Also on Monday, 31 August at 3pm, the Thematic Social Forum (TSF) on Mining & the Extractivist Economy will launch a global webinar series on the right to say no. The series is a continuation of the work of the TSF in terms of consolidating a broad movement of resistance to build common struggles for solidarity. 

This week’s topic is: Right to say no: learning from global struggles. Register here.

At 2pm, join the C19 Food Working Group for a necessary discussion on solidarity and sustainability, and what we can learn from soup kitchens and feeding schemes. See the poster below for the Zoom ID and password. 

Later, at 2.30pm , the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) will kick off their series of online dialogues and engagements aimed at increasing awareness, and agency of world human rights defenders (WHRDs) to exercise their right to defend human rights, cross-fertilise action ideas and share experiences as part of the building blocks towards the establishment of a WHRDs network.

Each dialogue will have different topics under the common theme: A woman human rights defender like me.

This week’s topic is: Standing in Solidarity with Women Human Rights Defenders of Zimbabwe. Register here.

Private security company G4S and the Department of Correctional Services are in the dock in a Don’t Shut Up Conversation on Wednesday, 2 September at 6pm between the author of The Misery Merchants: Life and Death in a Privatised South African Prison, Ruth Hopkins, and activist, author, and Maverick Citizen Editor Mark Heywood.

On Thursday, 3 September, the Call to Action Collective will be hosting their ninth virtual workshop in a 12-week series on the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF). The workshops are held every Thursday until 23 September.

This week, join Chiedza Chagutah (Hlanganisa Institute for Development in Southern Africa) and Phelisa Nkomo (South African Women in Dialogue) as they discuss the key considerations in developing a GBV fund.

You can register here. Alternatively, the event will be streamed live on Facebook and Twitter

Missed the previous webinars? Catch them here. You can also subscribe to receive weekly updates on the webinars, including presentations and speaker bios.

Land struggles are raging across South Africa – in and around the cities, informal settlements, on commercial farms, among small-scale farmers, in the communal areas, in mining-affected communities. Yet social movements and activists campaigning around demands for land have generally been organised separately. 

At 1pm, join the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) for a webinar titled Land activism in South Africa: The state of rural and urban struggles. The webinar will feature Mercia Andrews (the Trust for Community Outreach and Education), Themba Chauke (Landless People’s Movement), and Bandile Mdlalose (Community Justice Movement). 

Recent findings from the nationally representative NIDS-CRAM Survey show alarmingly high rates of hunger across South African society. Hunger has been felt acutely by children, in part because of the closure of the National School Nutrition Programme – a state school feeding scheme that feeds over 9 million learners nutritious meals daily.

On Thursday, 3 September at 3pm SECTION27 and Spotlight invite you to participate in a discussion about child hunger and food security in South Africa.

Journalist Kathryn Cleary will moderate a discussion between Sasha Stevenson ​​​​​​​(SECTION27), Kath Hall (Children’s Institute, UCT), Prof Haroon Saloojee (Division of Community Paediatrics, Wits), Sibongile Teffo (Community Leader for Equal Education in Limpopo) and Tevin Mahlangu (Community Leader for Equal Education in Gauteng).

The discussion will focus on what interventions, other than the National School Nutrition Programme, we can advocate for to realise the right to basic nutrition and to combat child hunger. Register here

Also at 3pm, the Social Change Initiative and Quaker Service are jointly hosting a webinar to formally launch a new toolkit and website to help raise issues faced by marginalised young people in Northern Ireland today. The webinar, titled Past, present, & future change: the power of storytelling within a post-conflict society will feature youth telling their stories and the power they hold to bring about progressive change. Register here. DM/MC DM/MC

South Africa is full of activists whose voices and campaigns need to be heard, and we want to report on all of them! So, wherever you live, if you have virtual events or meetings which you think other activists ought to know about, write to us at [email protected]

Also, please sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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