Thato Mokuena-Senekane Council COE

Thato Mokuena-Senekane Council COE

Date: July 1, 2015
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Thato Mokuena is a councillor of the Senekane Community Council in Lesotho, she first met Gender Links in 2012 for the Centres of Excellence workshop programme through her council.

I am a member of Senekane Community Council and one of the representatives of the community council in Berea District Council. I am one of two councillors representing the community councils in the district council. I am also a member of the financial committee of the community council. I have a diploma in financial management from Motheo FET College in South Africa.

My responsibilities in the community council are many. We contribute to community development by taking care of the environment and soil conservation. The council also looks after the cemeteries. It cares for natural resources in the area; we take care of the public facilities that are used by the community, like football grounds, places for exercise, markets, and public transport.

I first interacted with Gender Links when they came to train us in Maseru on gender mainstreaming. Now I am one of the trainers for the council. After the workshop, I realised that I felt that women need to be empowered. Women should not be stereotyped based on cultural beliefs and they should not be dependent on men.

In my work as a councillor, I ensure that there is supply of water for the community and that broken taps in the ward are maintained. As a council, we also issue licenses for small dams. We educate people to become aware of climate change. Our programme also involves working with social workers in the care of orphans and care workers in the community. In addition, we resolve conflicts among people who fight for land or development sites. We ensure accessibility of roads within the village.

On the financial committee, we find out what the community’s needs are and create an action plan right from the grassroots, taking it to the community council. We organised public gatherings in different villages to get people’s needs. There are many villages and this process took time because we had to go to every village and meet with the people to discuss their needs and priorities. We then sort, prioritise, allocate funds so that we make adequate budget projections to take to the district council. We do projections for 5 years because this aligns with the term limits of the councillors. We submitted the needs and action plans to the district council two months ago, but we have not gotten any money yet.

As a community council representative in the district council, I take these challenges and difficulties of our work within the community council to the district council. Sometimes I share successes. I am the link between the community council and the district council. I disseminate information from the district council to the community councils. We have one community council meeting and one financial committee meeting in a month. And within the district council I have one meeting in a month unless there are special meetings for both councils.

I had 3 training workshops with GL. GL trained me as a Trainer of Trainers (ToT) for gender mainstreaming in local government. GL showed us how to make action plans. I attended the ToT training in Victoria Hotel in Maseru on 3 À“ 8 June 2012. I have a certificate that I am a gender champion in my council. The training by Gender Links also showed us how technology is important nowadays. I learned skills related to IT for advocacy and campaigning. For example, how to Skype, use a cell phone for email and Facebook. I am not yet on Facebook and Skype though. I also learned media skills for advocacy, which includes making videos, photos, newspapers, and adverts.

Gender Links taught us about Gender-Based Violence (GBV), conflict resolution and also doing action plans to address GBV. Malepota Mafika, Gender Links, Lesotho, Country manager trained us and the other country managers like Sarry who came for our (ToT) in Maseru. I also learned about sustainable development and how to overcome climate change through GL trainings.

Using what I have learned, I will help transform the community and influence other councillors. I use my cell phone to call people for meetings, I take pictures and I register attendance of meetings as evidence. I have so many plans but community councils do not have money. We want to try to implement our action plan in the community council and we want to see the gender action plan completed

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