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Freedom meaningless without women’s safety


The Minister for Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, says freedom will be meaningless if the home is no longer a safe place to be for women and children.

The Minister was speaking on Tuesday during her Parliamentary debate ahead of the launch of the 16 Days of Activism campaign.

We must be worried about what has happened in our psyche as a society. We need to integrate values of Ubuntu with our democratic values. These values must be reflected into our actions. We need a discourse on the destruction of our cultural norms. Freedom would be meaningless if women and children cannot walk freely in our streets, said Minister Shabangu.

In May 2012, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Root Causes of Violence against Women and Children was established to investigate the root causes of violence against women and children with the objective to develop a comprehensive strategy. The Committee comprises the Ministers of Social Development, Women, Justice and Constitutional Development, Health, Home Affairs, Police and Basic Education.

The work of the Committee resulted in a diagnostic review to determine government’s response to Violence Against Women and Children by reviewing both the institutional and programmatic mechanisms by which government addresses Violence Against Women and Children.

The Minister said partnerships which yield dialogue and engagement are key to obtaining an understanding of violence and abuse against women and children.

These [National] dialogues enable us to engage with communities to better understand the root causes of violence against women and children. They provide a platform for victims and perpetrators of violence against women and children to interact and to find common solutions.

Dialogues have been concluded in the Limpopo, Northern Cape and in Mpumalanga Provinces. They took place in all district municipalities of these provinces.

Next in line is the Eastern Cape which will see the inclusion of Imbumba Ya Makhosikazi, the wives of traditional leaders who are concerned about violence against women and children.

Preliminary findings from the dialogues

Preliminary findings from the dialogues include a number of identified factors perpetuating gender-based violence in society – social, traditional and cultural norms that facilitate gender-based violence.

These findings reveal that violence against women and children arises out of poverty, despair and substance abuse. The Department of Women shares such information with the provincial government and relevant institutions to help inform policy interventions.

It is also expected that the findings arising from the National Dialogues will contribute to the revision of the Integrated Programme of Action Against Violence Against Women and Children to be completed in 2018.

Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals sets targets for addressing persistent discrimination against women and addressing patriarchal attitudes and challenges of triple challenges of inequality and access to education.

Involvement of men

The Minister commended the increasing involvement of men, who have taken a stand and declared #Not in their Name, #Stop Excuses and #There is No Excuse for Violence.

She said conversations on the role of men in changing gender relations are a necessity in a society that cares about changing attitudes and mindsets in transforming unequal power relations between men and women.

In a bid to increase the participation of men, the Men’s parliament held this past weekend, resolved to host sittings every two years at national level, annually at provincial level and six months at district level every three months at local level and daily, weekly and monthly at ward and street level.

Men are now talking about the problems of absent fathers and impact on families and the need to impart values. These campaigns will help nurture young boys to become better citizens that uphold the Constitution, said the Minister.

A five-year #No Excuse campaign to change behaviours and work with over 10 000 taverns to prevent violence associated with alcohol abuse was also announced by the Minister during the debate.

Ahead of the 16-Days of Activism launch set to take place this weekend, Minister Shabangu called on men to be the centre of advocacy in tackling the scourge of violence against women and children.

Namola App

Initiatives such as the national roll-out of the Namola app was welcomed as a move towards combatting the scourge of abuse in communities.

Namola is a crime response app that allows users to share their GPS co-ordinates, name and nature of the emergency with a 24/7 response call centre. This online panic button guarantees users a call back within 90 seconds. It points out exact location, making it easy for emergency services and the Police to respond effectively. Cellphones are useful tools in our fight against gender�based violence. Since its launch, there have been more than 100 000 downloads.

Business sector initiatives

The Minister highlighted that the business sector has taken a stand in supporting the fight against crime and violence against women and children. She highlighted that DialDirect, sponsored the Namola App and First4Women has invested money to fighting gender-based violence.

She noted that continuous partnerships with the faith-based organisations such as the Rhema Church � UmKhosi wa Madoda, National Religious Leaders Forum, the Jewish Board of Deputies as key stakeholders to addressing the safety of women and children as their audiences are highly receptive to their messages.

Through these partnerships, we have grown awareness regarding the negative impact of gender-based violence through the #365 Days campaign and how to eradicate it. We have also increased reporting on gender-based violence in partnership with the Police. More community members are able to identify abuse and have the confidence to report violations of their rights and dignity.”

As a parting shot, the Minister emphasized that in order to tackle this societal scourge, a multidisciplinary approach among government, civil society and the private sector was needed.

Source: South African Government News Agency



The High Level Panel (HLP) on the Assessment of Key Legislation and Acceleration of Fundamental Change, which was established to conduct research on the efficacy of laws passed by Parliament since 1994, has submitted its report to the Speakers’ Forum.

On Tuesday evening the Chairperson of the HLP, former President Kgalema Motlanthe, officially handed over the 604-page report to the Chairperson of the Speakers’ Forum, and National Assembly Speaker, Ms Baleka Mbete, at the Sandton Convention Centre during a special meeting of the Speakers’ Forum.

Mr Motlanthe said the panel hopes the recommendations will offer some direction on how to bring about accelerated change in our country, on the various sectors which include land reform, poverty eradication and nation-building.

After 21 months of traversing the country soliciting views from the public, experts, academics and business people, Mr Motlanthe said the work of the panel was immense but necessary and congratulated the Speakers’ Forum for engaging in the exercise.

Since 1994 our Parliament has been passing legislation but we have never paused to assess the impact of the laws. This is the correct moment to pause and take stock, look at challenges and successes, what needs to be corrected.

Honourable Speaker and Speakers of the Legislatures, today is a special day, we are handing over the report of the HLP that was established in December 2015 and we thank the Speakers’ Forum for establishing this immense but necessary exercise.

Over the past 21 months the panel’s public hearings were attended by at least 10 000 people who spoke about their lives eloquently and movingly. We heard about corruption, disappointments in government performance, heard about farms going to officials and politicians rather than the people who lodged land claims, said Mr Motlanthe.

He said evidence presented during the public hearings suggested that the ills of the past were being reproduced in post-apartheid south Africa, in many areas, including deep inequities in the quality of services delivered to the people.

We hope the recommendations offer some direction how to bring about accelerated change � land reform and poverty eradication. We recommend that the country needs to create key human capabilities in order to enable economic growth, we have also identified the need to improve the quality of education to enable South Africans to participate in the modern economy. Parliament must enact legislation and oversight that will ensure the county delivers education worthy of learners’ aspirations, he said.

The panel has also identified serious deficiencies in the quality of healthcare especially public health, and pronounced its support for the government’s proposed National Healthcare, saying it will help South Africa to achieve universal healthcare for all.

Among other recommendations, Mr Motlanthe and his panel also made a call for amendments to the country’s electoral laws to be amended to make Members of Parliament accountable to the public, through a constituency-based system.

we need meaningful land reform that recognises the property right of the poor � Parliament should amend the restitution of land rights before July 2018.

Ms Mbete said the HLP report graphically shows progress made to improve many facets of people’s lives in South Africa through the execution of hundreds of pieces of legislation passed by the whole legislative sector since the advent of democracy.

The report also paints a disheartening picture of legislative and policy gaps, as well as failed execution of many brilliant pieces of legislation and policies. Irrespective of this historical and undeniable fact, we also do acknowledge that there has been inexcusable weaknesses on the side of Parliament and the legislative sector on the one hand, and the executive arm of the state on the other, which resulted in missed opportunity, diversion of attention from the core issue, silo operations, the latent reinforcement of the colonial and apartheid macro-economic development designs, and failures at the execution phases of brilliant pieces of legislation and policies, she said.

In welcoming the recommendations of the HLP, Ms Mbete said the legislative sector undertakes to do the following:

Table this report in all legislatures of South Africa for intensive debates aimed at reaching optimal consensus on requisite goals, targets, mechanisms for resourcing and executing them without delay;

Ensure optimal communication of these findings to every sector and every individual that contributed in producing the ground-breaking findings and recommendations of the HLP, as an integral part of maximising citizen empowerment, participation and ownership of the new direction; and

Double the sector’s efforts and engagement of the Treasury and the Presidency, to better strengthen the Parliamentary Budget Office and invoke the provisions of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, to ensure a profound realignment of resource or budget allocations.

We had made good progress in building Parliament’s capacity for legislation drafting, and we declared during the mid-term performance report-back to the stakeholders and the media last week that we will further enhance the capacity of the drafting section into a division that will work with all legislatures to boost the sector’s broader capacity.

We concur with the HLP that drastic measures are required to fundamentally alter the trajectory of our society’s development, through inclusive development and removal of any barriers including legislative amendments, affirming the rights of rural-based citizens, women and people with disabilities, said Ms Mbete.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa