CIVIL SOCIETY WATCH 1 – 5 AUGUST
This week — Oxfam SA protest, World Breastfeeding Week and talk on ‘women in water’
Pallchase is hosting a webinar on informed care in the context of war and conflict trauma; the Presidential Climate Commission, Eskom and local government will be engaging in a dialogue on electricity system reliability; and the Defend Our Democracy Campaign will be providing a report back on their recent Conference for Democratic Renewal and Change. There will also be a discussion on the challenges women face in providing clean and safe water for their households.
This week is World Breastfeeding Week.
A key defence against child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity, is initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for two years or more, according to a joint statement by Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore and World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
This form of feeding also acts as a baby’s first vaccine.
“While there has been progress in breastfeeding rates in the last four decades — with a 50% increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding globally — the Covid-19 pandemic highlights the fragility of those gains,” according to the statement.
“In many countries, the pandemic has caused significant disruptions in breastfeeding support services, while increasing the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. Several countries have reported that producers of baby foods have compounded these risks by invoking unfounded fears that breastfeeding can transmit Covid-19, and marketing their products as a safer alternative to breastfeeding.”
The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”. The aim of the observance is to reinforce commitments to prioritising breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies.
On Monday, 1 August, at 10am, the Department of Health, WHO and Unicef, along with other partners, are hosting a hybrid webinar, “Step up for Breastfeeding Educate and Support”. The event is a commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week 2022.
At the webinar, the organisers will launch the South African report findings of the WHO/Unicef multi-country study, titled “How the marketing of infant formula influences our decisions on infant feeding”.
Among those speaking at the event are Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, deputy minister of health in the National Department of Health; Dr Sandile Buthelezi, director-general of the National Department of Health; Dr Owen Kaluwa, the WHO representative in South Africa; and Christine Muhigana, South African representative of Unicef.
The registration link is here.
On Monday at 10.30am, partners and stakeholders of Oxfam SA will be protesting at the Oxfam SA offices at 1 Newtown Killarney Street, Johannesburg.
“Oxfam SA faces an internal revolt over the dictatorship of the newly appointed Oxfam SA director, Lebogang Ramafoko, over her hardline decisions, including cancelling support to community programmes that were planned and budgeted [for a] long time ago, before she came,” according to the event description.
The protest will be directed at the board of directors of Oxfam SA, with protesters alleging a litany of problems at the organisation since Ramafoko’s appointment as director.
“Protesters will deliver a memorandum to Oxfam board and management and demand a special meeting with them after they have read it, before going back to our provinces, as we want this to be resolved.”
On Monday at 4pm, the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser) is hosting a webinar titled “Finding Nemo: Energy, Justice and Transition”. The talk will be presented by Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee and centres on his paper on energy justice.
In the paper, Mukherjee considers concepts such as “energy unconscious” and “non-distributive justice”, tracing literary genealogy to suggest that these concepts have long been present in popular anti-colonial and even colonial imaginaries.
“I look at two pairs of European and South Asian texts — Jules Verne’s Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and Rudyard Kipling’s The Bridge Builders (1898) and Dinabandhu Mitra’s Neel Darpan (1858),” said Mukherjee in the event description.
“Across the variety of forms (play, short story, etc) [and] genres (science fiction, imperial adventure), these texts test out the relationship between energy, justice, colonialism and capitalism, as well as the limits and possibilities of transitions from their current configurations.”
Read the paper here.
Find out more about the event here.
On Tuesday, 2 August, at 8.30am, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection are hosting the second of two webinars looking at the lessons and legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic for social contracting and social partnerships.
There are significant lessons for stakeholders in the response of organised business, labour, communities and government to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, according to the event description.
“The recommendations arising from the webinars will be compiled in a report for approval by the Nedlac structures and submitted to relevant government and social partner structures for further consideration,” it stated.
On Wednesday, 3 August, at 9am, Pallchase is hosting a webinar on “War and Conflict Trauma — Informed Care”.
Speakers at the event include Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, director of Gaza Community Mental Health, and Father Rick Bauer, executive member of Pallchase.
On Wednesday at 1pm, WaterCAN — an initiative of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) — is hosting a “Women in Water Webinar”, discussing the challenges women face in providing clean and safe water for their households.
“South African women are increasingly speaking out on clean water issues. From experts to community activists, they have become the leading voices in civil society campaigning for accessible water that is safe to drink and fit for domestic use,” according to the event description.
“It is often women who are responsible for providing clean water to their households, so it is only fitting that they should be leading this noble fight.”
Among those speaking at the event are Dr Ferrial Adam, manager of WaterCAN; Ayesha Haher of LAHL Water; Tarryn Johnston of Hennops Revival; and Bulelwa Klaasen of Siyanqoba Feeding Scheme.
On Wednesday at 4pm, My Vote Counts is hosting an “Intra-Party Democracy webinar” with ANC National Executive Council member and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
The webinar will explore the idea of renewal in the ANC, as well as the theory that “further democratising” the party could save it.
“[My Vote Counts] researcher on Intra-Party Democracy, Joel Bregman, will act as a respondent, and Phindile Kunene will facilitate the discussion,” according to the event description.
The discussion will also be streamed live on the My Vote Counts Facebook page.
On Thursday, 4 August, at 2pm, the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), Eskom and local government will be engaging in a dialogue on electricity system reliability. This will be the second PCC power dialogue on the role of the grid in energy security, stability and opportunity.
The discussion will explore the “critical role of transmission and distribution network infrastructure in the future energy transition and power systems”, according to the event description.
“We would also like to consider issues pertaining to the role of the transmission grid in enabling/constraining national and more localised energy planning and investment, as well as the impact on socio-economic development and the Just Transition [to a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy].”
On Friday, 5 August, at 1pm, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) is hosting a discussion on “Women and Mental Health”. Dr Lerato Dikobe, a psychiatrist, will be answering questions on mental health issues that many women face on a day-to-day basis.
The event will be livestreamed on Sadag’s Facebook page.
On Saturday, 6 August, at 10am, the Defend Our Democracy Campaign will be providing a report back on their recent Conference for Democratic Renewal and Change, in the form of a webinar. The event will also allow for the presentation of a programme of action.
“Earlier this month, we hosted the Conference for Democratic Renewal and Change, which saw over three hundred individuals and 100 organisations in attendance, and many more who joined us online,” according to the Defend Our Democracy Campaign.
“The conference reiterated the need for envisioning a new politics that enables people’s power.”
Register for the webinar here.
On Saturday at 11am, there will be a discussion of author Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon’s book, The Blinded City: Ten years in inner-city Johannesburg, at Bridge Books (98 Commissioner Street, Marshalltown, Johannesburg).
“Amid evictions, raids, killings, the drug trade, and fire, inner-city Johannesburg residents seek safety and a home,” states the book description.
“A grandmother struggles to keep her granddaughter as she is torn away from her. A mother seeks healing in the wake of her son’s murder. And displaced by a city’s drive for urban regeneration, a group of blind migrants try to carve out an existence.”
Wilhelm-Solomon will be in discussion with Niren Tolsi and Nomzamo Zondo.
Those wishing to attend should RSVP to [email protected]. DM/MC