Maverick Citizen


This week in civil society: Eradicating torture, drug abuse and poor public service

EKURHULENI, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 20: Healthcare workers caring for patients on January 20, 2021 in Ekurhuleni, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images/OJ Koloti)

This week, the international civil society community will focus on eradication of torture, drug abuse and poor public service. Meanwhile, South African journalists will discuss the politics of reporting on the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out and health activists will host a ‘teach-in’ on how to keep tackling the HIV pandemic within the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Every country in the world needs to rethink the structure and operating model of its civil service as we enter the third decade of the 21st century,” says the United Nations on the commemoration of Public Service Day on 23 June. 

In 2021, its call is urgent: reform public service to be “more agile, tech-savvy, data-driven and human-centric.” The way the world carries out service delivery is woefully behind the demands of the day and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals in time. The United Nations will host a virtual discussion on how this can feasibly be achieved.

Read more: Civil service – Our country’s history and blueprint demand that all of us be activists

The Covid-19 pandemic has been beset by misinformation, but the scourge of misinformation around drug abuse has been claiming lives, too. The theme for the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on 26 June is “Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives”. Find the latest World Drug Report here.

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture also falls on 26 June. Torture is prohibited under international law and its systemic practice is classed as a crime against humanity. Yet, it persists in every region of the world and Covid-19 has made it even more pervasive. The UN’s experts on the prevention of torture will discuss why during a public webinar at 1pm on 26 June.

The rest of the week…

On Tuesday, 22 June, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group will host a virtual conversation on what it is like to work through substance abuse. Their loved ones will join the discussion to share their experiences of helping someone on this journey. Join the virtual event here at noon.

Later that day, five South African journalists who have been reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic will discuss “the politics of covering vaccine roll-outs”. The virtual discussion will be led by Mia Malan, the editor-in-chief of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism. Join here at 3.15pm.

That evening, the Columbia University ISERP Center for Pandemic Research will launch a new report, “Crisis Communications and Vaccine Uptake in Fragile African Settings”. South African academic Dr Wilmot James will be joined by civil society and governmental officials to unpack the findings. Join here at 6.30pm.

The virtual Siyaphumelela Conference on higher education will take place from 22 to 25 June, bringing together international and South African experts to discuss learning design and the role of education leaders as well as students in shaping curriculum and evaluations. Register to attend here.

On Thursday, 24 June, Health GAP will host a “teach-in” for activists to chart a collective way forward through the HIV pandemic and how to hold the US accountable to do its fair share for HIV. Join the virtual session here at 8pm.

Later that day, LGBTIQA+ content creators from across southern Africa will present their short stories. Iranti and a host of other organisations have been working with the creators through a collaborative training programme to create these stories to show “how deeply intersectional, diverse and complex our identities truly are”. Join the virtual event here at 3pm.

Meanwhile, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation will host a panel discussion on how corruption and State Capture affect young South Africans. They will speak to Kirsten Pearson and Sabeehah Motala from Corruption Watch about corruption within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and personal protective equipment procurement in schools. Join the discussion here at 3pm. DM/MC


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