Civil society watch, 19-25 October

Tabling a human rights budget on civil society’s radar this week

Tabling a human rights budget on civil society’s radar this week

This week, the world celebrates United Nations Day, while in South Africa the Budget Justice Coalition presents a people’s budget based on human rights. Other organisations tackle corruption, the economy, and what the world can learn from previous pandemics. 

On Monday, 19 October at 2pm ActionAid, together with several other organisations is hosting an international discussion on Privatisation & Public Services: a conversation with current and former UN Special Rapporteurs.

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs will reflect on the impacts of privatisation, on renewed momentum and strategies for the public provision of services related to economic, social, and cultural rights. This will be a cross-sectoral discussion addressing the situation in sectors including health, education, water sanitation, and housing. Register here.

At 4pm, the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) invites you to their next Public Positions session. This week Hilary Lynd discusses her paper Living together: the ANC, the Soviet Union, and the National Question of how human difference should be organised in a post-imperial society. The disintegration of the Soviet empire in 1990 is arguably the last act of the imperial as the expansion of the international society of states is all but complete. Sign up here to receive details for the Zoom meeting.

On Tuesday, 20 October, Equal Education and the Public Service Accountability Monitor put together a full 2-hour programme for an education roundtable. The objective is to explore the series of connections between public procurement and access to education, what it means to “build back better”.

Speakers include Mary Metcalfe (University of Johannesburg), Dr Takalani Rambau (office of the Auditor-General of South Africa), advocate André Hurtley Guam, Siphamandla Qwabaza (Equal Education), and Dr Soyisile Nuke (Eastern Cape Department of Education). Register here.

On Wednesday, 21 October, the Budget Justice Coalition (BJC) will hold a press conference to table Imali Yesizwe’ (Our Nation’s Money) – an alternative, people’s budget based on human rights. The BJC anticipates that the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, due to be presented by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on 28 October 2020, “will accelerate the austerity of recent years by cutting funding to health, education, social development, local government and housing, and critical institutions such as SARS, StatsSA and the NPA, in a misguided attempt to stabilise public debt.” Register here.

The recent spate of Covid-19 pandemic-related fraud and corruption highlights that there are still massive weaknesses in the system of checks and balances. At 12pm, the Mail & Guardian and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) invite you to Peter Goss (UJ) in conversation with Parmi Natesan (Institute of Directors SA), David Lewis (Corruption Watch) and eNCA’s Shahan Ramkissoon, as they discuss the ongoing challenges of corruption highlighted by Covid-19.

Also at 12pm the University of the Witwatersrand is hosting its fourth webinar in a series of critical engagements titled Pandemic Pangolins: Systems, Science, and Society. Wits is bringing together experts to debate and evaluate the ever-changing body of knowledge emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. This series probes pandemic innovations, responses, and partnerships.

This week, speakers (to be announced) will converse on the pandemic lessons from history. Register here.

At 3pm the Department of Social Development and StatsSA will launch the first in a series of webinars on demography and Covid-19 in Africa. Building on South Africa’s data analysis and understanding of the Covid-19 epidemic and lessons from the rest of Africa and other world regions, the webinar series will share a demographic perspective on the impacts of Covid-19, considering its implications for Africa’s demographic dividend.

South African Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke will open the series and chair the first webinar, titled the demographic impact of Covid-19: global, regional and national experiences which will focus mostly on the demographic data and evidence available so far of the pandemic in South African, across Africa, and internationally. Register here.

On Thursday 22 October at 4am the American University Washington College of Law, together with the Centre for Human Rights and the Business and Human Rights Initiative, is hosting a webinar on Unavoidable power and unaccountable impacts: the role and responsibilities of central banks in global economic governance.

Join Professor Daniel Bradlow (Centre for Human Rights), Olivier de Shutter (UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights), Rosa Lastra (Queen Mary University of London), and Stephen Park (University of Connecticut) for a discussion on human rights, central banks, and global economic governance.

The Vaccine Advocacy Group and the African Alliance invites you to “Covid-19 Conversations” at 10am with Sibongile Tshabalala, the National Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). Sibongile will discuss how the TAC has addressed access and availability of HIV and TB  treatment during the lockdown, the challenges, and remedies, the steps that the TAC  has taken to ensure that members are kept abreast of the latest developments in health and the steps taken to reform South Africa’s patent laws regarding Covid-19 related diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

On Friday, 23 September, at 6pm Unisa vice-chancellor Prof Mandla  Makhanya and acting regional director Dr Shahieda Jansen invite you to the 8th Neville Alexander Memorial Lecture. This year’s topic is Building grassroots political movements for radical change: Lessons from the activist life of Neville Alexander. Speakers include occupational medicine specialist Dr Sophia Kisting and professor of surgery and health rights activist Dr Lydia Cairncross.

On Saturday, 24 October, we observe United Nations Day to commemorate 75 years of the UN and the entry into force of the UN Charter whose preamble, ironically, was drafted by Jan Smuts. Despite the UN’s many flaws and failures, the idea of a system of global governance to protect human rights and security, has never been more important. In the face of rising nationalism and populism this ideal needs to be revived and given new power. To celebrate UN Day, an annual concert is usually held in the General Assembly Hall in New York. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the concert will be pre-recorded and streamed live on Thursday at 6am on the UN Channel on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The concert will include a performance featuring Roberto Bolle, accompanied by other world class American Ballet dancers as well as the Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala, all recorded at La Scala Theatre in Milan. Several classical, modern and reimagined dances, curated specifically for the UN Day Concert, will be performed. 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]

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