KZNCC Democracy and Elections Office

Context and objectives of the programme:

Since 1986, political violence has claimed the lives of more than 20 000 people and left more than 500 000 people displaced.  In 1997, political violence claimed lives of more than 320 people and since the beginning of 1998, 385 people have died as a result of political violence.  During the 1999 national government elections, more than 55 people were killed in political violence, over 38 people were injured, and additional 43+ cases reported in police stations related to political violence (e.g. arson, political clashes, service delivery protests etc).

The KwaZulu Natal political conflict, political violence and the political killings are often attributed to various factors such as:

  1. Poor literacy levels and lack of reliable and accurate sources of information
  2. Limited knowledge on democracy frameworks
  • Lack and or less knowledge of the South African constitution, peoples’ rights and responsibilities.
  1. Lack of effective skills training of citizens’ participation in decision making at the three spheres of governance
  2. Lack of political education by political parties on their ordinary membership
  3. Dismal service delivery by municipalities leads to violence, arson on state buildings and destruction of infrastructure
  • Mismanagement, corruption and greed.
  • Jostling for positions of political influence and nepotism in top management positions.
  1. Human settlement backlogs that lead to overcrowded hostels that is a breeding ground for violence.

Programme objectives:

  1. To provide accurate and credible information about dynamics of violence and geo-map the most worst affected areas (hot spots) in KZN. Identify potential conflict areas and rapidly facilitate conflict resolution dialogues months before and after the May 2019 national elections.
  2. To map strategic provincial-level organisations that are actively involved in promoting reconciliation and peace building in KZN.
  3. To examine some significant factors such as social, economic, political, cultural and religious that inform various forms of violence in KZN.
  4. To produce a rich and comprehensive qualitative and quantitative data to help inform various organisations working on conflict resolution and peace building to design evidence-based intervention.
  5. Recruitment and mobilisation of sensitisation trainings, communication and or information dissemination activities in the areas of balloting education, electoral codes of conduct, and post-election citizen participation in democracy development.
  6. Organizing and facilitating 6 multi-stakeholder post-election learning and reflections sessions

 

Given the context and the objectives of the democracy and elections offices, it is obliged to capacitate/sensitize citizens to understand the concept of active participatory citizenship, this will be implemented through the ward based ecumenical fraternals’ framework.

It seeks to enhance communities to maximise participation in good governance processes through engaging in policy formulation processes including but not limited to public hearings and submissions to portfolio committees and the legislature.

Will further sensitize and encourage individuals and communities to assume their roles and responsibilities associated with citizenship in democratic systems through the creation of safe spaces for dialogue to engage on matters of democracy deepening.

The community engagement processes will assist in analyzing and understanding of civil society on various dynamics i.e. socio-economic, political and civil democratic rights.

The role out of some of the objectives has been achieved already, as early as October to early December 2017 working in partnership with the Msunduzi IEC office pilot training project was executed in 5 of the 7 Municipalities of the uMgungundlovu District.

Statistics: 5 municipalities sessions [93 women including 39 young women were trained] overall 61 young people of the 189 total number of trainees.

In association with 18 CBO’s that work on democracy, elections and human rights issues, we have re-launched the Kwa-Zulu Natal Democracy and Elections Forum (KZNDEF) in preparations for the 2019 National and Provincial Elections. The office was unanimously given a lead organization role with in the Forum members.

The role of the Lead organization to coordinate work on behalf of the five sub-committees within the KZNDEF which are:

  1. Civic and voter education.
  2. Election Observation.
  3. Violence monitoring and tracking.
  4. Peace building and mediation
  5. Litigation and legal frameworks.

There has been 6 meetings held with the members of the Forum since April 2018, in addition and most importantly was the Forum’s presentation by the 5 sub-committee chairpersons to a potential funder.

The funding campaign continues as we hope that as the elections draw near there will more interest shown by the funding agencies. The aim is recruit and train ten pairs of trained facilitators who will be tasked with facilitating 200 workshops across the province. Each workshop will consist of 20-50 participants

The collation and packaging of researched information and briefing the Advocacy teams in preparation for submissions to the various portfolio committees.

During the end of July 2018, the Church Leaders’ Group (CLG) unanimously agreed to ask KZNCC through the Democracy and Elections office to be the secretariat of the CLG. This was implemented with immediate and the first meeting as the secretariat sitting was on the 25th September 2018 at St. Josephs’ Catholic Church in Durban. CLG is chaired by the Cardinal Wilfred Napier and Bishop Gabriel Dino is the deputy chairperson. The office was tasked to draft two Pastoral letters after a rigorous engagement on contentious matters of violent crime escalation in the province and in the country in general. This was after the release of the crime statistics by Minister of Police Honorable Bheki Cele on the 11th of September 2018. The first Pastoral Letter was a lament on violence in the province. The second Pastoral letter we designed is on an urge for people of the province and the nation in general to exercise their constitutional rights and responsibilities, to cast their votes in the upcoming 2019 elections.

Both these letters will be published to the media by the CLG on the 31st of October 2018 at Diakonia Council of Churches in Durban by Cardinal Napier at 13h00.