Maverick Citizen

CIVIL SOCIETY WATCH 22-28 FEBRUARY

A just vaccine roll-out, SA’s school dropout rate and celebrating the world’s 10 million NGOs

Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia. On Friday a panel of diplomats and researchers will discuss how the conflict in Ethiopia will affect peace and security for other African countries.(Photo by Byron Smith/Getty Images)

This week, civil society turns its attention to the state of human rights and equality during the pandemic and the global vaccine roll-out. We'll see a new report on South Africa’s school dropout rate, while how and why our grant system became monopolised by one company will be explained.

The sixth World NGO Day will be commemorated on Saturday, 27 February in more than 89 countries. An NGO is non-profit and is run by citizens outside of any government structure. There are an estimated 10 million NGOs in the world, employing about 50 million people. The number of NGOs is expected to double in the next decade.

The rest of the week…

On Wednesday, 24 February, the digitalisation of South Africa’s social grant payments system will come under the spotlight. The Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project will interview Lynette Maart, the director of Black Sash, on how it came to be that the country became dependent on just one company for the payment of grants. Listen in at 10am here

Unemployment among young people in South Africa was 43% by the end of 2020, and 63% of the population falls into this category. For the past decade South Africa has used its National Youth Policy to tackle the problem. The impact of this policy will be discussed in a webinar hosted by Nelson Mandela University’s School of Economics on 24 February at 2pm. 

Department of Economics lecturer Asanda Fotyi will be in conversation with Bernice Hlagala, chief director focusing on young people in the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to discuss the latest research on the policy’s impact and how it can be improved in the next decade. Sign up here

At the same time, the effect of the pandemic on South Africa’s metros will be under discussion. The Dullah Omar Institute and the Faculty of Law at the University of the Western Cape will host a webinar where Adrian Peters, the chief strategy officer at eThekwini Municipality, will explain “the impact on the ground from the perspective of a metro”. Sign up here.

That evening, Fossil Free South Africa will launch a new campaign linked to their #InvestFossilFree project which lobbies asset managers to divest from fossil fuel. They will summarise their progress and chart a new way forward. Join the virtual event at 7pm here.

On Thursday, 25 February, a conference on human rights and Covid-19 will kick off. It is hosted by the SA Journal on Human Rights and the NRF SARCHI Research Chair in Equity, Law and Social Justice at the Wits School of Law. Over two days, legal and human rights researchers and practitioners will address a range of questions on human rights and inequality during the pandemic. Sing up to attend here

The International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG) is hosting a webinar at 4pm that day on the unequal way in which Covid-19 vaccines have been developed, manufactured, allocated and distributed at international and local level. Host Dale McKinley, of ILRIG, will be in conversation with Fatima Hassan of the Health Justice Initiative, Dr Lydia Cairncross of the People’s Health Movement of South Africa, and Professor Greg Hussey of the Vaccines for Africa Initiative to discuss “Covid-19 vaccines: The new apartheid?” Sign up here

A new report on South Africa’s school dropout rate will be launched on Thursday. According to the organiser, Zero Dropout, the report will focus on how Covid-19 has “intensified vulnerabilities” to dropping out and how this damage can be undone. Join the virtual launch at 11am here

The same day, the Institute for Security Studies will launch a new Evidence-Based Policing Resource Guide for police officers, researchers and the public. The launch includes a discussion with senior police about the South African Police Service’s own approach to research. Join the virtual launch here at 2.30pm. 

That evening, Stellenbosch University will host an online discussion on the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines in light of new variants. Among the speakers are:

  • Professor Gerhard Walzl – Molecular Biology and Human Genetics; Director of the Immunology Research Group;
  • Professor Wolfgang Preiser – Medical Virology;
  • Professor Helmuth Reuter – Clinical Pharmacology;
  • Professor Hassan Mahomed – Public Health;
  • Dr Jantjie Taljaard – Infectious Diseases;
  • Dr Therese Fish – Vice-Dean: Clinical Services and Social Impact (Stellenbosch University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences).

Join the discussion at 5pm here.

On Friday, 26 February, a panel of diplomats and researchers will discuss how the conflict in Ethiopia will affect peace and security for other African countries. The discussion will be hosted by the Africa Institute of South Africa, part of the Human Sciences Research Council, and will feature some of its senior researchers. They will be in conversation with, among others, Ambassador of Ethiopia to South Africa Shiferaw Teklemariam and Welile Nhlapo, a former South African special envoy to the Great Lakes. Join the webinar at 9am here. MC/DM

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 you think other activists ought to know about, write to us at [email protected] 

Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c), it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address Covid-19. We are, therefore, disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information we should know about, please email [email protected]

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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