Month: Feb 2020

Abahlali baseMjondolo demands that government constitutionalise the right to land

The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) visited Abahlali baseMjondolo head office in Durban from the 23rd of February 2020 ahead of the march that was to be held the next day. During this visit, the SAHRDN managed to visit two Abahlali communities of Khenani and Nenkani and interacted with how the community members are living and the challenges they face when asserting their rights to land. After interacting with the community, the SAHRDN was also privileged to attend an event were the Abahlali national leadership was establishing a new community leadership in a new settlement.

On the 24th of February, the SAHRDN witnessed the march or demonstration organised by Abahlali. The social movement held a march from King Dinuzulu Park to the Durban City Hall. At the City Hall, the movement handed over their submission on the Amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution. This submission follows the heated debate on land expropriation without compensation in South Africa. The submission was handed over to the chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Amendment Bill Dr Mathole Motshekga

Abahlali members marching to Durban City Hall

“As Abahlali, we don’t see land as a commodity, the land must be shared to all the people who work for it. It must be shared with those impoverished people and people who live in the shacks,” said Abahlali baseMjondolo general secretary Nomsa Sizani.

Abahlali does not believe in land reform driven by the elite. Instead, the shack dwellers’ movement believes that land should be a public good with redistribution from the bottom up, and women should be directly included in the land question.

“As Abahlali baseMjondolo, we say land mustn’t be seen as a commodity,” Sizani said. Land should be seen as a public good. In the discussion about expropriation of land without compensation, Abahlali is concerned that the land in question is land for profit. “That’s what matters to them, it’s only the profit and not the public good,” she said.

Since its inception in 2005, Abahlali has called for the right to well-located land and decent housing for all in our cities. Their advocacy has been met with violence, with some human rights defenders even losing their lives. “This is very important for us as Abahlali baseMjondolo to be here because we are facing a lot of evictions in our communities and we have been brutally beaten by the police and also eThekwini Municipality during the land occupation,” Sizani said

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2019 SOUTHERN AFRICA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS SUMMIT REPORT. “Reflecting Innovating And Co-creating A Sustainable Protection Agenda Based On Trends And Opportunities”

The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)  in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Advancing Rights in Southern Africa (ARISA), World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS Alliance) and Lifeline held the 2019 HRDs summit from the 27 – 30th of November 2019 The summit was held under the theme; “Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Southern Africa: Reflecting, innovating and co-creating a sustainable protection agenda based on trends and opportunities.”  It was attended by over 100 HRDs, policymakers, and human rights experts from eleven Southern African countries and various organisations. 

The project was made possible through the support from OSISA and Ford Foundation.
Please download the process report of the 2019 SADC HRDs Summit below

SAHRDN conducts a Strategic Planning Session for Chapter One Foundation, Zambia

Between 7 and 9 February 2020 the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network carried out a Strategic Planning Session for Chapter One Foundation (COF), Zambia as part of its wider programme of contributing to a stronger network of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Southern Africa. The strategic planning process was attended by the staff and board members of COF.

The participants made a rapid assessment of how COF has performed as a start-up organization looking at what is working and why and what is not working and why. They also looked at where they want to take the COF to by 2024 with a clear appreciation of where they are presently. Some tools to look at the internal capacities and weaknesses and the environmental challenges and opportunities were deployed as part of the strategic planning process resulting in the adoption of an implementable and realistic strategic plan with a strong angle at protection of human rights defenders and use of impact litigation to contribute to positive social transformation through promotion and protection of human rights and the constitution of Zambia.

Washington Katema of SAHRDN facilitating one the Strategic Planning Session

One of the “core objectives of the strategic planning process is to contribute to the Institutionalisation of the COF and make the organization survive individuals and have perpetual succession” said Linda Kasonde the Executive Director of COF. “COF arose after the realization that there was no organized public interest litigation firm in Zambia that systematically worked to promote the rule of law and good governance” added Kasonde.

The participants felt that the sustainability of the organization was important as it was part of important national cogs to unlock the effective participation of Zambians in matters that affect them. If this strategic plan is implemented, it is hoped that the COF will be the go-to institution for human rights defenders in Zambia

SAHRDN conducts an introductory training for Oxfam staff on Risk Assessment and Management for human rights defenders

On 29 January 2020 the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network carried out an introductory training for Oxfam staff from 5 country programmes in Southern Africa on Risk Assessment and Management for human rights defenders (HRDs)

The purpose of the training was to assist Oxfam employees as frontline defenders (HRDs) in being able to identify the steps that they can take to mitigate against the risks that they face as a result of their work in protecting and promoting human rights. The training aimed at strengthening Oxfam staff capacities to execute their work as HRDs, despite the existence of risks and threats that they face on a daily basis as a result of such work.

The training also aimed at building and increasing the capacity of Oxfam staff in the prevention and mitigation of the impact of threats and risks that may negatively affect their operations on the ground. The introductory risk management training workshop for Oxfam staff was also a good foundation for future training of not just Oxfam staff but also their day to day interlocutors as they contribute to the fight against inequality, poverty, and injustice.

SAHRDN calls on authorities in Malawi to guarantee a credible fresh election

The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) applauds the historic decision by Malawi’s Constitutional Court to order a fresh and credible election within 150 days of the ruling. SAHRDN encourages all parties to accept the verdict.

SAHRDN calls on the authorities in Malawi to implement the court verdict in letter and spirit, through fast-tracking key reforms, including the 50% plus 1 provision to ensure that the rerun adheres to Malawi’s constitution, electoral laws and international good practices. In particular, the fresh election should be human rights centric, espousing the cardinal principles of peace, transparency, accountability, and inclusion. As a hallmark of a democratic election, the rerun should be characterized by procedural certainty and outcome uncertainty i.e. without a predetermined result. 

“The rerun, just like the con-court ruling should set an illuminating pathway on how to conduct a high quality, democratic poll with zero tolerance to human rights violations, electoral fraud and systemic manipulation of the electoral processes in the region and beyond,” said Mozambique’s Prof Adriano Nuvunga who is part of SAHRDN’s solidarity mission in Malawi.

SAHRDN also calls for the international observers’ missions to know when to lead and when to follow. The rush to endorse fraudulent elections especially by regional and international observation missions undercut their otherwise key role in promoting credible elections, worldwide. The nullification of presidential elections results in Kenya (2017) and now in Malawi calls for the regional and international observer missions to rethink their observation models, including Parallel Voter Tabulation, and place the views of and evidence from local civic groups at the heart of their observation reports.

SAHRDN also congratulates our local partner in Malawi, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition for their leadership and resilience in fighting for human rights in Malawi, including the right for citizens to freely elect their leaders.

For more information please contact Washington Katema at wkatema@southernafricadefenders.africa +27736202608 or Chimedza Charles at cchimedza@southernafricadefenders.africa +27781251062