Southern Africa: Mossel Bay sets the trend in localising summit concept

Southern Africa: Mossel Bay sets the trend in localising summit concept

Date: August 26, 2014
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Johannesburg, 28 May: The Mossel Bay Municipality in South Africa won the Centres of Excellence in Gender Mainstreaming in Local Government at the 2013 SADC Protocol@Work Summit. As part of the prizes for the regional summit, a study visit to Mosel Bay was organised for different winners. The aim of the study visit was to continue to foster the networks and relationships that had been created amongst the various institutions during the regional summit.

“The municipality exceeded all my expectations. It is but a local municipality, yet the work it has done through the ‘No More Victims Summit’ has helped a lot of people, me inclusive. I was amazed at the level of agenda mainstreaming that goes across all departments,” said Jeanette Raseluma from Polokwane Municipality in Limpopo who was a regional winner in the GBV category.

Mossel Bay Municipality joined the Centres of Excellence Programme (COE) in 2010 and has become one of the flagship councils within the COE process. The municipality has developed a Summit that has become an annual event within the institution.

The first “No More Victims Summit” was hosted in 2012 and displayed the different practices undertaken by various institutions and stakeholders, with regard to the eradication of GBV. The aim of the “No More Victims Summit” is to promote gender equality, share effective campaigns for ending gender violence, and HIV/ AIDS and build the capacity of women and men to engage critically in democratic processes that advance equality and justice.

“The NMVS aims at heightening awareness on gender-based violence (GBV). Through this major initiative the municipality is enhancing and increasing partnerships, reaching a diverse set of stakeholders, strengthening activism and creating a space for organisations to grow and inform future interventions. This is major and practical action that helps to prevent and eliminate violence not only against women and children but also against all members of society,” said Edward Jantjies. Jantjies is the Director of Corporate Services in the Mossel Bay Municipality.

During the 2014 regional summit, a few of the alumni of this study visit were interviewed to relate about what they learnt and how they have incorporated the lessons into their individual projects, as well as how they plan to advocate for a stronger post 2015 agenda.

“From the study visits, we learnt how to organise and conduct our own local summits because we were enlightened that we do not stop here. From the regional and national summits, we were taught how to hold summits in our districts and municipalities as a way of starting at the grassroots level”, explained Naledi Masipa of the Capricorn District Municipality in Limpopo, South Africa.

Naledi Masopa from Capricorn District Municipality, Limpopo, said the visibility of the gender forums within the municipality is what empowered her most. She pointed out that the municipality supports different aspects of the GL categories.

“They sustain a lot of already existing and struggling programmes and projects in the municipality. It’s really amazing how much dedication and time they put in the summit. We were given a step by step lesson on how to plan summits of our own back home. This is the sustainability part that impressed me as well. We were not just left to think summits are for GL only but we were taught how to have our own summits, how to organise them, what is needed. It was a real eye opener,” she said.

For Fainesi Bwakaya from Zimbabwe, the study visit provided a way for her to overcome her fear of crowds and have the confidence to stand in front of people and give out her views on gender issues. This was due to the opportunity they were given to preside as judges over the presentations of the local participants.

The study visit participants were to facilitate with the adjudication process and be part of the judging panel of the best practices that were shared within the various sessions. It was a learning experience for participants to gain knowledge on how to conduct and facilitate local level summits, to be replicated in other countries.

“As a leader myself, it was interesting to watch how they worked as a team. It was the integration of the work they did together that striked me most, they decentralised attention and support to not one but all aspects of the municipality. I think having women in the power hierarchy of the social development programme helps a lot there,” said Rachel Jeremia from Chobe District in Botswana.

Mossel Bay is the first local government council in the SADC region to have a summit that follows structures and aims of 28 targets of SADC protocol.

Zinhle Mkhari is a student at the University of Swaziland and Wezzi Nungu is a student at the Polytechnic of Malawi. This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summit underway at Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre in Johanesburg, South Africa, offering fresh views on everday news.

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