Civil society watch, 16-20 November 2020

Taking stock of the state of our Children

Young children wear face masks as they wait to receive food donations without their parents during a food handout in Johannesburg, South Africa, 20 May 2020. Food insecurity is one of the main issues facing the country since the start of the lockdown imposed on 30 April 2020 in a bid to slow down the spread of the pandemic COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. South Africa remains on level 4 in the lockdown's 56th consecutive day. (Photo: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK)

Children are among the worst hit by Covid-19, but their plight is insufficiently understood. Children have had schools and dreams disrupted, families separated and food and social security systems taken away from them as a result of the lockdown. This week there are two international commemorative days relevant to children’s struggles in South Africa - it’s an opportunity to take stock of the state of the children’s nation.

World Toilet Day (Thursday, 19 November) highlights toilets and sanitation. It raises awareness of the 4.2-billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It promotes taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: ‘water and sanitation for all by 2030’. This year the theme draws attention to the importance of Sustainable sanitation and climate change.

Joining the dots between sanitation and children’s rights Ntsiki Mpulo from SECTION27 reminds us of the unfinished business of ensuring safe sanitation in schools, an issue highlighted by the horrific death of Michael Komape in 2014: “On World Toilet Day 2020, SECTION27 reiterates its commitment to ensure that the state eradicates pit toilets, not only in Limpopo, but around the country, and that the Department of Education develops and implements an effective plan for the provision of safe and hygienic toilets for all learners.”

On Friday, 20 November, World Children’s Day is marked. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “Around the world, children are showing us their strength and leadership advocating for a more sustainable world for all. Let’s build on advances and re-commit to putting children first. For every child, every right.”

The day aims to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which South Africa is a signatory to and therefore forms part of our law. This week Maverick Citizen will have a special focus on the issues surrounding our children.

The week ahead…

South Africa, a carbon-intensive economy, has initiated a transition to a more sustainable development pathway. While this is an economy-wide transition, the transformation of the electricity supply industry is at the centre of this shift. On Tuesday, 17 November, Trade and Industrial Strategies (TIPS) will host a webinar on Unravelling South Africa’s just transition: Unpacking the energy-level impacts.

This dialogue will explore the energy-level impacts associated with a just transition away from coal. It builds on three previous dialogues hosted on 7 July, 29 September, and 3 November. Register here.

At 12pm the South African Institute of International Affairs and the Centre for Human Rights invite you to the launch of Values, Interests and Power: South African Foreign Policy in Uncertain Times by Daniel Bradlow and Elizabeth Sidiropoulos.

This book explores “how South Africa can develop a foreign policy strategy that is appropriate to the uncertain times in which we live and that both helps the country address its overwhelming domestic challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment and regain its former high international reputation.” Register here.

At 3pm the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa together with the Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response (PITCH) invite you to a webinar titled #ShowUsTheMoney! Advocating for comprehensive SRHR resources and accountability. Human rights expert Phillipa Tucker and international health consultant Dr Caleb Mike Mulongo will discuss budget advocacy and the roadmap to accountability and funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Register here.

At 1pm on Wednesday, 18 November, the University of the Witwatersrand is hosting its seventh 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 The Human Resource in a time of pandemic: vulnerabilities and strengths. Register here.

The Applied Constitutional Studies Laboratory (ACSL) and the Socio-Economic Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute invite you to a webinar on Privacy, digital technology, and covid-19 at 2pm.

In this webinar, Alex B. Makulilo (Open University of Tanzania) and Dr Rachel Adams (Human Sciences Research Centre) will reflect on how governments have used digital technology and big data in controlling the spread of the pandemic and the wider implications this may have for privacy and data protection.

At 3pm the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign will host its third in a four-week series of agroecology workshops. The free online workshop series will feature practical and theory sessions with permaculturalist John Nzira. This week brings you a workshop on waste management and composting. There will also be input from Simon Mbata of the South African Waste Pickers Association. Register here.

At 5PM  the World Justice Project together with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and the International Legal Assistance Consortium bring you a webinar on Accountable governance and the Covid-19 pandemic: recommendations for action. This discussion will focus on key accountable governance problems raised and exacerbated by the pandemic and discuss recommendations for actions needed to address the crisis’ underlying challenges, support an effective recovery process, and build back better rule-of-law-based societies. Register here.

In Africa, the right of prisoners to vote has been successfully argued before courts in South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and Uganda. In Mozambique, while the courts have not yet dealt with the issue, a request was placed before the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Commission to express an opinion on the matter and a recommendation has been made to put measures in place to allow prisoners to vote in future elections.

On Thursday, African Criminal Justice Reform in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance, Research for Mozambique (Reformar), and Uganda Christian University invite you to a webinar on Prisoners’ right to vote in Africa.

Even when courts have allowed prisoners to vote, delays in amending enabling legislation and resource limitations are often cited by governments as reasons for preventing prisoners from voting. This webinar will reflect on the state of play concerning prisoners’ right to vote in Africa and cast a light on near-future elections, such as in Uganda and Zambia scheduled for 2021. Register here. 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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