Two African countries experienced a break-up this Valentine’s Day. Two resignations, that of President Jacob Zuma in South Africa and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Ethiopia is at a tipping point, as anti-government protests and demonstrations have increased since late 2015, crippling the country and prompting alarm in the coalition government.
On 31st March 2007, the Namibian government constructed a memorial plaque in remembrance of the indigenous OvaHerero and Nama peoples. Kimal Daniel Harvey notes that this gross discrimination towards Africa and its people must end; otherwise this perpetrates the legacy of the multiple crimes against humanity that were committed on the African continent
The lived reality of queers is one that remains of great concern, many have argued that the constitutional developments of early democracy resulted in advances in protecting the LGBTQIA+ community in SA. Writes Jodi Williams, stating that our failure to intensify the fight against deep-seated homophobia will have detrimental consequences for the future of queers.
The decision taken by the Appeal Tribunal of the South Africa Film and Publication Board (FPB) to ban the film, Inxeba from mainstream South African cinemas poses yet another threat to queer representation on television. The lack of representation erases the social existence of queer bodies and it legitimises social stereotypes about minorities. Siphokuhle Mkancu shares his views on the poor representation of queer bodies on traditional media platforms.
Climate change and its effects are not gender neutral. A 2007 study from the London School of Economics found that natural disasters are more likely to kill womxn than men, and that the disparity is largest where womxn are the poorest. Additionally, womxn are frequently excluded from the policy and decision-making processes for climate change initiatives and solutions. There are few and shallow attempts at practicing intersectionality in mainstream responses to climate change. Danielle Hoffmeester, a Gender Justice and Reconciliation Project Officer at IJR, notes that we cannot reduce and eliminate man-made climate change without simultaneously advocating for gender justice.
The 1994 ideology of “sameness” that was introduced post-apartheid to bring peace to a much-wounded nation has begun to show cracks, a clear indication that this was, for the most part, a one-sided concord dependent on whose privilege matters most. Samantha Kambule, a Communications and Advocacy Project Leader at IJR, notes that it is time that white people show their stance on racism, march against their convenience and join a call for justice. She further stresses that for our country to rid itself of the chronicle of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ everyone needs to join in confronting social injustices of any kind and remind each other of the importance of dignity for all human beings.
Declining institutional trust: the need for the South African state to reconcile itself with the society it governs
Over the past two years, the trustworthiness of political institutions across the globe have generally taken a hiding. Domestically, the South African polity continues to be plagued by multiple divisions. Not only does this sketch a society and social groupings that are divided amongst themselves, but it also highlights the lack of trust in a central authority that can act as a unifying, progressive and developmental force.
The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is recognised as one of the world’s largest reservoirs of cobalt and significant quantities of diamonds, gold, coltan and copper. A fragile judicial and constitutional backdrop has created a space for illegal exploitation of Congo’s natural resources; a new form of “conquest”. It is this conflict that has seen Women’s rights be masked in silence and shame. Justice and peacebuilding programme volunteer, Mieille Tankana, explains how during armed conflict women are deliberately targeted as a strategy to intimidate communities while shedding light on how the exploitation of natural resources is often connected to that of sexual violence.
South Africa’s political system, especially at this point in time with the Gupta and state capture narrative surrounding the race ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December, needs civil society voices like ours more than ever. Whether it is Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma or a dark horse candidate, the systemic and structural factors like unemployment, impoverishment and wealth inequality won’t go away. IJR, together with the rest of civil and activist society, will continue to keep government accountable and do the hard work of healing woundedness through community building. IJR’s Executive Director, Stan Henkeman, writes on how you can lend a helping hand to help support civil society as an act of political justice.
Since SARB’s inception in 2003, most South Africans have indicated their preference for a united South African nation. In addition, optimism about the potential for a more unified society follows a similar trend to the desirability of greater unity. However, the IJR’s most recent South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) survey show that only 56,1% of South Africans agree that South Africa has made progress in reconciliation since the end of apartheid. Elnari Potgieter, SARB Project Leader in the Policy and Research programme, identifies some of the major sources of social division in South Africa.