Civil society watch, 2-8 November 2020

The week in webinars: All hands on deck to leave no one behind

Civil society groups arm themselves to protect anti-corruption whistle-blowers. (Photo:

This week we commemorate journalists killed for reporting the news, director general of the World Health Organisation Dr Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros speaks on the importance of reimagining health systems, and civil society groups arm themselves to protect anti-corruption whistle-blowers.

Today, 2 November, marks International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. In the past 14 years (2006-2019) nearly 1,200 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and informing the public. According to the United Nations, in nine out of 10 cases the perpetrator goes unpunished.

To commemorate this day and honour our fallen friends and colleagues, Unesco and Doyle Dane Bernbach Paris launched the #TruthNeverDies campaign, which aims to help keep the investigations of killed journalists alive and perpetuate their legacy by sharing their articles and their stories.

The week in Webinars

South Africa, a carbon-intensive economy, has initiated a transition to a more sustainable development pathway. While this is an economy-wide transformation, the progressive decline of the coal value chain is at the centre of this shift.

Today at 10am, the Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) organisation invite you to a webinar on Unravelling South Africa’s Just Transition: unpacking the ground-level impacts in the coal value chain. This dialogue aims to inform individuals and stakeholders on a just transition process. It explores the ground-level impacts associated with a just transition away from coal. It builds on two previous dialogues hosted on 7 July and 29 September (recordings available here and here), but aims to unpack evidence rather than perspectives.

On Tuesday, 3 November, the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) invite you to a discussion on National Health Insurance (NHI) and Covid-19: lessons from the pandemic and the way forward for the NHI. 

Join Dr Aquina Thulare (Department of Health), Dr Stan Moloabi (GEMS), Dr Nicholas Crisp (public health specialist and NHI advisor for the health minister), and financial journalists Michael Avery as they discuss the progress of the NHI, reflect on lessons learnt from the crisis, new role of medical schemes, debate the long-term implications, and the importance of preventive treatment during primary care, digitising towards universal healthcare and the next steps post Covid-19.

At 10:30, the Socio-Economics Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI-SA) will launch a case study on provincial interventions in Makana’s municipal crisis. The webinar aims to unpack how provincial intervention in local government works (in terms of section 139 of the Constitution), to highlight some of the challenges associated with such interventions, and to draw lessons from Makana (which faces various service delivery, administrative and financial challenges) for use by community activists and government. Register here.

At 6pm, City Press editor Mondli Makhanya sits down with author Rehana Rossouw to discuss her book, Predator Politics

In the book, Rossouw “tells the story of Fred Daniel, who stood up against the might of powerful provincial politicians, including the current deputy president, DD Mabuza. Daniel’s stand resulted in not only vandalism, death threats and smears, but also the uncovering of a network of false land claimants. The court was due to hear a damage claim from Daniel, of R1.2-billion against Mabuza, government departments and officials, in August this year but this has been postponed”. Join the discussion to find out why.

At 1pm on Wednesday, 4 November, the University of the Witwatersrand is hosting its fifth 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 week the series focuses on progressing public health during a pandemic. Register here.

Wednesday will also see Stellenbosch University virtually host its second Annual Social Justice Summit convened by the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at the Law Faculty, headed by Professor Thuli Madonsela

This year’s theme is All hands on deck to leave no one behind. The aim of this year’s summit is to launch the Musa Plan for Social Justice Fund (M-Fund), which is a crowdfunding initiative to accelerate the advancement of equality and the elimination of poverty in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 10 (reducing inequality). Register here.

The  Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) will co-host a webinar on Thursday, 5 November. The webinar will bring together key stakeholders in local government and will be a key platform for informing the future of skills development and mitigating disruption to skills programmes in the sector.

Speakers include Phumlani Mntambo (LGSETA), Paul West (education consultant, Xolile George (South African Local Government Association), Stella Mondlane (the National Council of Provinces), and Koena Ramotlou (South African Workers Unions). Register here.

Remembering the ethical leadership of struggle veteran Laloo Chiba on his 90th birthday, the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is hosting a webinar on protecting our whistle-blowers at 11am. Join Cynthia Stimpel (former SAA whistle-blower), Stefanie Fick (the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse), and Karam Singh (Corruption Watch) as they discuss the role of civil society in protecting and supporting anti-corruption whistle-blowers.

At 3pm, Health Systems Global invite you to view the live streamed launch of the Sixth Global Symposium for Health Systems Research (HSR2020) where Dr Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be speaking on the importance of reimagining health systems in Covid-19 times.

Following the launch, from 8-12 November, HSR2020 will bring together over 2,000 policymakers, practitioners and researchers from more than 100 countries online to explore how we can build back better and create socially just health systems after the global pandemic.

Also at 3pm, the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign will host its second workshop in a four-week series of agroecology workshops. The free online workshop series will feature practical and theory sessions with permaculturalist John Nzira covering topics such as land, waste, and waste management, food forests, seed saving, and indigenous knowledge.

This week, Nzira will discuss how to manage water in your food garden. Register here.

From 3pm the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) are hosting a virtual discussion on UNCTAD’s 2020 Trade and Development Report (TDR) and the relevance of the findings in the South African context. Speakers Richard Kozul-Wright (UNCTAD division of globalisation and development strategy), Fiona Tregenna, (SARChI Chair for Industrial Development at the University of Johannesburg and member of the President’s Economic Advisory Council), and Sonia Phalatse (IEJ Researcher) will examine and debate the TDR from a South African perspective. Register here.

On Saturday, 7 November, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation will host its 11th annual lecture which will be delivered by former deputy minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas. The theme for this year’s lecture is Hope after state capture – what’s the agenda for change? The lecture will be screened online (link to be provided on the Foundation’s Twitter page). For those who would like to express their interest in joining, you can email [email protected] 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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