By Koketso Marishane
On the 15 June 2018, socio-economic activists across Limpopo Province gathered at a venue just outside Polokwane to deliberate on issues of common concern: Gender Based Violence.
Like Theodore Hesburgh once said: “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
The event, officiated by Activator Lezerine Mashaba, unpacked what Activate! Change Drivers is and what its’ objectives are before opening the platform for discussions.
As Activators and none-Activators deliberated on the issue, it’s enlightening to witness that, Activate does not appeal only to the youth, more so, also adults who graced the event with and by their presence from other youth formations and State Owned Entities.
The conference attended by officials from the NYDA, Love Life and ICASA among others, received a sound reception from Activators doing what they’re second best known for, chanting and singing their lungs out, to set the tone for those who’re unfamiliar with the Activate! territory. They’re, after all, activists activating spaces in communities, from the deepest rural village in South Africa- Mphanama, to the most glamorous space within the Activate space in Muizenburg in Cape Town.
Forming the provincial panel for deliberations on GBVLimpopo were, Ms. Lezerine Mashaba- (Activate official), Ms. Phoshollo Phasha- (Activator), Mr. Lotus (GBV UL Student Community) and Mr. July Ndima (Love Life Limpopo).
Mr. Ndima from Love life, reported that, GBV is mostly affecting women in rural communities because the reporting channels and mechanisms to platforms are rarely considered and elevated hence the continuation of the ills that are continuously making headlines in the country.
Amidst the enlightening exchanges amongst panel members on stage, it’s rather sad to learn that, within the whole scope the matter, most inputs were directed and targeting the previously excluded communities, those governed by the chapter 12 institutions in South Africa.
Lezerine Mashaba explained how important and impactful story telling is: ‘Activate! Change Drivers is a partner member with the Gandhi Institute in India and the kind of stories we share together are similar. The GBV societal defects in South Africa are similar to those in India and through engagements such as these, we’re slowly making a positive difference.
In contrast, audience members expressed their dissatisfaction on the lack of platforms for expression at both community and national level and blamed both the formal and informal structures instituted by government for failing to receive their concerns.
Esteemed GBV activist, Activator Phoshollo Phasha expressed how she became an activist: ‘I am a victim of Gender Based Violence from my immediate community where I come from. People like myself are labelled negatively when we rebel against the system and because the cause is stigmatised, most people, especially women, are too afraid to come out and talk about it.
Whilst deliberations were continuing at the venue, Activator cum author Pearl Sekwati was seen outside the room selling her book ‘Kickstart Your Future’ through motivational talks.
At the end, congregants made the following resolutions:
- There should be councils on gender based violence to address the issue, from community level to The Presidency: The Department of Women.
- The councils should be dominated by women with a minor inclusion of men.
- Government must STOP instituting irrelevant campaigns like “take a girl child to work” because boys feel excluded hence they’ll perpetuate the practise due to the feeling of exclusion.
Activators ended the discussion feeling energised and motivated to challenge the status quo at all levels, from grass-roots (community) to national parliament.