Interns Report to Eskom FoundationBackground
The South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) sought financial support in 2006 to run an internship programme. The Eskom Foundation provided the necessary funding - R100 000 - for the programme. The intent was to get the interns to recover the institutional memory of the organisation, as part of rebuilding, as well as train the interns. This serves as a report back from the interns to Eskom Foundation as to what they have accomplished so far.
The South African NGO Coalition’s programme serves young university students and graduates to learn and develop skills in the NGO sector, preparing them to take on the challenges of South Africa’s young democracy. At a recent meeting, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said civil society will need interns for 2010 to be a success.
SANGOCO began 2006 with six interns working under the guidance of Campaigns & Communications Manager Hassen Lorgat. These include Marius Kotze, Muelelwa Khosa, Simon Schaefer, Theengran Chetty, Mohammed Ziyaad, and Jacobeth Makhubele. They come from diverse range of backgrounds in their studies, work and life experiences.
Muelelwa Khosa graduated with a BA in international relations and political studies from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2005.
Simon Schaefer completed a BA in African development studies, specialising in geography and economics, at the University of Bayreuth (Germany) in 2005.
Marius Kotze worked as a full-time layout designer and was responsible for the layout of several newspapers before he joined SANGOCO.
Jacobeth Makhubele is finishing an Honour’s degree in media studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Mohammed Ziyaad is finishing a BA in international relations and political studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Theenegran Chetty is completing a degree in computer studies through UNISA. Previously, he worked as a network/IT technician for Sun-International (Carousel Casino).
Munir Hassen is a long-time Islamic scholar and worker in the Muslim community.
Recently Jacobeth, Theenegran and Mohammed left SANGOCO to focus on their studies.
After the three left, Jason Siegel joined the intern team. Jason arrived in Johannesburg in September 2006 after earning his BA in journalism at the University of Washington in the United States. He spent the last three years working for newspapers, magazines, online media and public radio as a producer, writer, photographer and editor; for non-profits serving refugees, homeless people, HIV/AIDS patients and immigrants; and doing research via the Mary Gates Venture Fellowship.
Steffen Kühne is a recent addition to SANGOCO from Germany. He is finishing his Masters’ degree in administrative studies, specialising on international politics and institutions, at the University of Potsdam. He’s written for a local newspaper and worked for a variety of NGOs working on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and rural development in his eight month stay in Togo.
Interns work collectively, though each intern takes charge of different tasks (see details below).
The interns are fully involved in the day-to-day work of SANGOCO. This includes office administration, organising and coordinating conferences and workshops, researching and writing reports. They play an important role in the Coalition’s capacity building efforts.
DEVELOPING “THE STRUGGLE ZONE”
A constant and major undertaking has been the construction of “The Struggle Zone.” Interns were assigned to track down the historical mandate and institutional memory of the Coalition.
Tracking down and making these civil society documents available for the public is crucial part of SANGOCO’s capacity building efforts. SANGOCO played a significant role in the writing of these documents. In order to make the documents available to a broad base, the interns put The Struggle Zone online on SANGOCO’s website at http://www.sangoco.org.za.
The Struggle Zone is a tool for the public to respond to development challenges and to learn more about citizens’ rights. The documents can also be utilised to do an assessment on the government’s promises made to fight poverty and by civil society to hold the government accountable.
Historic documents like The Freedom Charter, South Africa’s Constitution and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations, the Reconstruction and Development Programme and South African Yearbook 10 Year Review are included.
The utility of the documents placed in the subsection “South African NGO Documents” is unmistakable. SANGOCO has been inundated with calls from NGOs inquiring about how to legally constitute themselves. Since Setting Up A NGO was first placed online, it has been a constant and fervently sought tool box assisting burgeoning NGOs to find their way through the legal maze and to select the appropriate legal forms.
The Struggle Zone provides a library of educational material for civil society and amplifying the voices of those they serve. Documents like Fighting Poverty in South Africa (produced by NEDLAC) and Speak Out on Poverty.
The latter document is a product 10,000 contributing participants at ten hearings in all nine provinces between 31 March and 19 June 1998. Outlines of those meetings, organised by the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality and SANGOCO, and conclusions borne from them are provided. Speak Out on Poverty is the sole document that preserves the opinions and conclusions made at the massive set of hearing. Anyone interested in reading the document would find that it was inaccessible. This despite huge amounts of time and money were invested into the hearings and the corresponding reports, with grants from the Swedish Embassy, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Department for International Development, United Nations Development Programme, European Union Foundation for Human Rights, South Africa Development Fund, Netherlands Embassy and Nedcor. Now it has not only been tracked down, but the full length of the report is freely available to the public via The Struggle Zone.
This is but one example of how The Struggle Zone makes many documents electronically available for the first time that have no remaining record to be learned from or unfortunately have been discarded and lost. As a result, university researchers have anxiously anticipated each update to the site and the new additions brought.
The Development Update, a quarterly journal founded by Interfund and SANGOCO in 1997, is a particularly desired resource. Until 2004, with Interfund’s subsequent closing, the journal provided critical debate in the areas economic justice, HIV/AIDS, gender and women’s development, human rights and democratisation, capacity building, arts and culture, and environmental sustainability. “Without Development Update,” wrote Christa Kuljian of the Centre for Policy Studies last December, “the development sector in South Africa is without a journal to reflect on the challenges facing the country in terms of urban and rural development, poverty and inequality, and the role of civil society.”
Despite being a multimillion rand project, the 18 books that made up the Development Update disappeared with Interfund’s closing. In The Struggle Zone, all 18 books have been tracked down and 15 full-text electronic copies made available thus far.
Finally, the products of international meetings and commitments are not forgotten as The Struggle Zone documents like the Copenhagen Declaration at the WSSD in 1995, the Beijing Declaration on the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, the 2002 WSSD in Johannesburg, the World Conference Against Racism NGO Forum in 1999, the WSIS meetings in Geneva and Tunis from 2003-2005 and the Global People’s Forum Civil Society Declaration in 2002.
SANGOCO hosted five members of the Steering Committee from the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) from the 26th of February to 3rd of March 2006. The interns planned and organised the visit, from setting up meetings in Johannesburg and Cape Town to coordinating accommodation and transportation both within South Africa and from Palestine.
The objectives of the visit were:
to learn from Palestinian NGOs about their struggle for nationhood and creating a sustainable democracy under the trying circumstance of occupation
· to allow NGO bodies from different struggles and histories to exchange information and experiences
· creating an atmosphere of lobbying, support and advocacy within South African civil society towards the people of Palestine
to explore the lessons of struggles and building sustainable democracies in South Africa and Palestine to overcome race, ethnic and economic exploitation and
to take lessons from the South African struggle during the apartheid regime and how to constructively negotiate a peaceful, amicable agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The PNGO delegation met in Johannesburg as well as Cape Town with diverse groups in government and civil society, as well as the Palestinian Ambassador Ali Halimeh.
Both organisations worked closely to strengthen their relationship, exchanging information and experiences. SANGOCO is organising a week long visit to Palestine to strengthen relations with the PNGO in early 2007. The interns are credited for making the solidarity visit a success.
The half of the subsequent report outlining the meeting was written by Mohammed and Muelelwa. Simon assisted in the photos/layout and Jason Siegel assisted in the editing and finalisation of this report.
More recently, the interns organised SANGOCO’s Leadership Training Workshop, and Media Workshop. The Leadership Training Workshop was held from the 1st to the 3rd of August 2006.
The objectives of the Leadership Training Workshop were the following:
assessment of the state of NGOs in light of the funding crisis
evaluation of the relevance of the aims and objectives of the organisation
re-energising the sectoral membership activities
enhancement of accountability to members and other stakeholders
resolution to send a SANGOCO delegation to Palestine on a solidarity visit.
The Leadership Training Workshop attracted approximately 60 participants from all provinces. Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and other high profile figures spoke at the event.
The interns’ work was key to the success of the workshop. They set up the programme, compiled the workshop information packages, made sure that the workshop went well and arranged transport and accommodation for the participants.
The Media Workshop was held form the 5th to the 7th of September. The objects of the Media Workshop were the following:
assessment of the state of provincial offices in terms of campaigns and communication issues
the utilisation of the different means of media
introduction of the “new media” (bulk sms, website, blog, voice over IP etc.)
how to write a press release
how to present a statement on radio or television in an appropriate way
how to file a complaint e.g. to the Press Ombudsman’s Office.
Approximately 20 SANGOCO members attended the workshop. SABC Editor Steven Lang was a key speaker at the workshop, among others.
The interns’ work was again instrumental, inviting the speakers, set up the programme, compiling the workshop information packages and arranging transport and accommodation for participants.
Interns took on different organising roles for the Global Call to Action against Poverty’s (GCAP) month of action 16 Sept – 17 October. Muelelwa helped organise the Aerobics Against Poverty event at the Wits Sports Ground that joined the global Stand Up Against Poverty campaign with over 13 million people, a Guinness World Record, standing to end poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Interns collectively helped organise the Stand Up Media Conference in Alexandra with Vusi Gumede of President Mbeki’s Office.
Jason helped organise the Hip-Hop Against Poverty and Inequality event in the Alexandra Township, drawing local hip-hop artists, dancers and slam poets including Zolani Mkiva, DJ Kenzhero, Kgafela Magogodi, the Studio 69 dancers, a local brass band and many others.
On the 27-28 October, interns contacted organisations for the HIV/AIDS Civil Society Congress in Randburg. Additionally, they helped put together informational packs for the event and took photographs of the event.
Throughout the One in Nine campaign, interns participated in many demonstrations outside during the Zuma case, supporting the complainant.
The Action Week of Global Campaign for Education (24-30 April) brought high profile and influential South Africans to either be teachers or students. The underlying intent of the event was to bring leaders to see the needs of South Africa’s primary and high schools, principally those in rural areas. With the help of our manager, Marius, Muelelwa, Simon and Jacobeth we able to get high profiles like Minister of Public Service & Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and 702 Talk Radio host Tim Modise to participate.
For the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children (25 Nov – 10 Dec) Marius, Muelelwa, Jason and Steffen helped organise different events outside SANGOCO’s office to mobilise people in support of the 1 in 9 Campaign and member organisations working against gender-based violence. On 27 November, Muelelwa and Jason organised a human chain along Rissik Street. Interns were at the Tembisa Magistrate’s Court on 29 November in support of Buyisiwe, a rape survivor whose case was being reheard that day. Marius organised a women’s self defense class taught by Hanshi Solly Said, a karate grandmaster, on 8 December at Wits.
Apart from the collective work, the interns have key duties. Theenegran worked as SANGOCO’s IT specialist. His responsibility was the maintenance of SANGOCO’s website, computer maintenance and support of SANGOCO’s network. Mohammed was a project manager. Jacobeth was in charge of the media research.
As a task, each intern worked to develop SANGOCO membership in the provinces. Munir worked to develop and solidify SANGOCO membership in the Eastern Cape and towards the formation of a Muslim NGO coalition. Steffen is fundraising as well as researching and developing partnerships around water issues in South Africa towards the development of a water integrity network.
Marius works as Hassen Lorgat’s personal assistant as well as SANGOCO’s layout designer. “I’ve learned so much about development issue on South Africa,” he says. “I believe civil society provides so many challenging opportunities.”
Muelelwa and Simon do research on various topics such as poverty, anti-corruption and WTO issues. They participated in a two day workshop in Johannesburg last year on the WTO and the transformation of economic partnership agreements between Africa and Europe, and outcomes of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The workshop focused on economic development in Africa and the transformation of economic partnership agreements between Europe and Africa. It also reviewed the outcomes of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development that was held in Geneva on the 26th July 2005. Simon also does fundraising and works for Transparency South Africa, a SANGOCO member, maintaining their website (http://www.tisa.org.za/) and as a junior researcher.
Marius did layout and Muelelwa helped write Civil Society Speaks, a response to the Millennium Development Goals by SANGOCO, SACC, and COSATU. Muelelwa is also assisting with the membership base of SANGOCO as it is part of rebuilding the organisation rebuilding Gauteng’s province membership.
Jason is using his journalism background to produce a radio documentary and publication interviewing unemployed people living in informal settlements in Gauteng; taking photos and developing a SANGOCO online photo album (www.sangoco.myphotoalbum.com) of our events; joining interns in developing “The Struggle Zone;” and developing a SANGOCO e-newsletter and magazine. “They work me to the bone here,” Jason says. “But, as an insomniac, that’s how I like it. With all the reading and writing I do, the people I meet, events I help organise and the endless supply of conferences to attend, every day is a learning opportunity.”
To document and monitor their work the interns have set up an online blog http://www.working4justice.blogspot.com/. The blog gives interns the opportunity to post reports and publish information about their work. It also helps the interns to familiarise themselves with this new medium, which is a very useful and effective tool to share information with other parts of the society.
Thanking Eskom Foundation
SANGOCO interns would like to thank the Eskom Foundation for its generosity, which makes SANGOCO’s internship programme possible. The interns are very grateful for the opportunity to be trained in NGO sector, which fights against poverty and inequality to make South Africa a better place. The interns believe that the training, guidance and experience gained from the internship programme is of high-quality and will help them flourish in their future careers.