Values, Policies and Rights

Young people building a new vision for Port Elizabeth : Young Urbanists meet in Nelson Mandela Bay
Coetzee L: Future Cape Town, 2016

In 2016, a hundred-strong group of young Port Elizabethans gathered at the Athenaeum in Central, for the city’s first YOUNGURBANISTS meeting. A historic building and national monument situated on the corner of Castle Hill and Belmont Terrace, the Athenaeum is not a typical art gallery. It has reinvented itself as a community hub for emerging creatives in Nelson Mandela Bay and surrounds. Set in the heart of the ‘old city,’ the Athenaeum sets out to be a tangible example of a reimagined, multi-use urban space – a fitting location for a Young Urbanists event. Speakers included Oyama Vanto, project leader in Development and Infrastructure for the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), who introduced the audience to the MBDA’s goals of reversing urban decay and attracting people and businesses back into the inner city, and to its current projects: the resurrection of Zola Nqiri Square, the development of Vuyisile Mini Square and the extension of Route 67. Oyama’s passion for the democratization for city spaces resonated clearly in his talk, and he called out for a safer city for women and children as the starting point in enabling a more inclusive city. The audience were invited to share their vision for the future of our city, and to record it on a piece of paper and placed into a box. Young urbanists in attendance voiced their ideas and their concerns, calling for clear objectives through which they could move Nelson Mandela Bay forward as a model for future cities. One issue in particular was to identify the many pockets of multidisciplinary communities in our cities, with the hope of promoting synergy and fostering a participatory environment. Grand visions in place, the attendees are reported to now be reflecting on the ways that they can begin to take steps towards making such visions a reality, and dwell on the question of how, as young urbanists of PE, they can collectively propel a momentum shift and foster a culture of pride in their city.

Zambia's bishops say African Union protocol threatens life, marriage
Pintu M: Catholic News Service, 24 March 2009

In a strongly worded letter to the president of Zambia, the country's Catholic bishops called on the government not to ratify an African Union protocol with articles that would threaten the sacredness of life and the sanctity of marriage. They demand amendments to Article 7 on separation, divorce and the annulment of marriage and to Article 14 on the protection of reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of assault, rape and incest. The bishops said the Catholic Church holds in high esteem the sanctity of marriage and the sacredness of human life from birth to death. 'It is in this light we find it immoral, unjust and out of context to sign this protocol without making changes to the two articles to agree with the divine and natural law,' they said. The government has not yet reacted to the bishops' appeal.

‘Rural-proofing’ policy launched
Nkosi S: Health-e News, January 2015

Rural health advocacy groups in South Africa have developed guidelines aimed at ensuring that policy makers and government address the rural context when developing and implementing policies. The guidelines are proposed to assist government departments in taking into account rural contexts when designing programmes. The guidelines and related presentations from the launch can be accessed through the link.

‘Water belongs to everyone’: The role of the private sector in tackling global issues surrounding water
Pambazuka News 579: 29 March

While the sixth World Water Forum took place in Marseille in March 2012, an Alternative World Water Forum (FAME) also took place in parallel in the French city. Promoting a motto of ‘Water belongs to everyone’, the trade unions, corporate watchdog groups and environmentalists behind FAME accused the World Water Forum of failing to adequately address issues of universal water access and sustainability, and of rather promoting expensive private sector technologies for safe water. The World Water Forum declaration did include commitments to speed up access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all, focusing on the most vulnerable. The Alternative Forum argued, however, that the Forum declaration failed to reflect a full commitment to the rights to water and sanitation, according to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

‘We’ll show you you’re a woman’: Violence and discrimination against black lesbians and transgender men in South Africa
Human Rights Watch: December 2011

This report focuses on violence documented in economically marginalised black communities against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people. The economic and social position of LGBT people in South Africa has a significant impact on their experience, as middle-class members of the group tend to experience less discrimination. The report documents 121 cases of discrimination, harassment, and violence both from private individuals and sometimes state agents, including in terms of police inaction or service provider unwillingness to provide services to this social group. The author highlights that this situation deviates from the equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation guaranteed in the Bill of Rights section of the South African Constitution.