On Saturday, October 27, 2012, representatives of Khulumani branches from across Limpopo Province met in the boardroom of the Department of Health and Social Development in Hans van Rensburg Street, Polokwane to receive reports from the Khulumani Provincial Committee members on their activities of the past year.
Reports were tabled by the immediate past Chairperson, Mr Andrew Debeila and the Provincial Secretary, Mr Jimmy Kekana. Khulumani members attended from Makhado, Ga-Matlala, Mokopane, Modimolle, Jane Furse, Longtill, Seshego, Sekhukhune and Steelpoort. The reports highlighted some very significant developments that had taken place in the province since the beginning of 2012.
The first had been the meeting of concerned citizens, convened by Khulumani on February 2, 2012, shortly after the province had disclosed that it was bankrupt. This meeting had been attended by representatives of most civil society and political structures in the province. It had been held in the Regional Training Centre of the Department of Health. The meeting took place in the context of 5 Limpopo provincial departments being placed under administration and a sense on the part of citizens in the province that they needed to try to contribute to rectifying where government had gone wrong in the province.
Shortly after this meeting, Mr Debeila participated in the National Council of Provinces' Hearings into the Protection of State Information Bill in Polokwane. Mr Debeila was heckled for this presentation, but stood his ground in cautioning about the risk of the proposed bill being used to hide evidence of maladministration and possible corruption in state departments. The background to this was the emerging evidence that provincial budgets had been diverted into private pockets and that this had contributed to the bankrupting of the province's coffers with terrible consequences for the citizens of the province.
The next major event in the province had been the support given by Khulumani Limpopo Province to the efforts to rectify the impact of the failure of delivery of text-books to schools for the current school year. Mr Debeila organsied for tha June 15, 2012 Press Conference to be held in the Regional Training Centre in Polokwane. This was one day prior to the date set by Judge Kollapen for books to be delivered to schools. Khulumani's objective was to try to assist in mobilising parents to take up these matters with their school governing bodies across the province. The press conference was not been well-attended.
Khulumani's Limpopo Provincial Coordinator successfully completed Training for Transformation including the residential course components and the required assignments including facilitating workshops that generated rich discussions. One of these was on the ways in which men and women use the social media for different purposes, with women tending to use it to connect with others in the community to take forward community activities while men were portrayed as using social media for activities like following soccer matches. There was a very rich discussion about these gender differences.
Congratulations to Ms Caroline Rathokolo on her successful completion of the Training for Transformation course. Khulumani is slowly building an entire cohort of people who are being trained in Paolo Freire-based methodologies of his 'pedagogy of the oppressed'. This connects very well with Khulumani's work on Forum Theatre that empowers young people in using Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed to try to create shared solutions to problems that face communities.
Throughout the year outreach activities have taken place to villages across the province. The most urgent issues that have been raised in these meetings have been the continuing exclusion of widows who are below 60 years of age and who no longer have children under 18 years of age, from the social security safety net. They consequently find themselves with no means of support. Another huge challenge are the many legal issues that face women in particular such as being able to access their husband's benefit packages.
Mr Charane from Bochum spoke powerfully of his hopes for Khulumani in the province. It was decided that as some areas had not been able to reach Polokwane for the meeting, that an Interim Provincial Steering Committee would be put in place to take forward planning for the province.
- Original report submitted by Mr Frans Mogajana, Khulumani Member Liaison Officer and Gauteng Interactor.