This summary speaks to an Indaba held from the 14th to the 16th of November 2018 by Tshintsha Amakhya constituency with a focus on reviewing mid-term of Phase 3, prioritizing the remaining months of the Phase and thinking about Phase 4. Held at Club Mykonos in Langebaan, the Indaba was attended by 20 programme staff, 10 finance staff and 10 directors – whom joined on the last day.
On the 14th following introductions and morning contemplation, Sithandiwe Yeni – the National Coordinator of Tshinthsa Amakhaya(TA) – provided a background informing the gathering which is mid-phase review. Moreover, she reminded participants on the political programme which informs TA’s work which is the Agrarian Reform. To lighten the mood, there was a brief discussion informed by defining and describing the agrarian reform and how each participants and their organisations’ work contribute towards agrarian reform. Conversely, participants also had a brief discussion on how the current agrarian structure look-like and what do they envision it to be. Along the discussion, what was found is that the three main objectives of TA’s phase three are what will assist to advance the struggle for land and agrarian transformation.
Then followed session one entitled ‘mid-phase review’. To review the phase, participants revisited the objectives of the phase:
- Critical consciousness
- Movement building and campaigns
- Policy advocacy and litigation
The process followed here was the breaking into groups informed by the already existing cluster formations. In these three groups, participants gave inputs and debated while reflecting on each objective. To grapple with the progress of each objective, groups’ discussions were informed by five guiding questions:
- Are (objective) aligned with what each organisation do without TA?
- Are they still relevant?
- What is the specific value add of the TA?
- What worked and what did not work?
- Does the whole structure of TA support the objectives?
These five questions were used to evaluate each objective at the time.
Generally, in response to these questions, answers varied but most seemed to agree with most questions on alignment, relevance, value add and the functioning of the structure. Conversely, it was agreed on the value add of TA as a space and a national platform allows participants to have wider reach and resources to draw on. There is diversity in the network on the range of issues – gathered from different views and different people hailing from different places. Therefore, what organisations are already doing is amplified through that.
A thrust of discussion was on the fourth question: What worked and what did not work? Generally, on critical consciousness objective, it was agreed that there was progress. Although the progress is not visible in the process itself, but it is visible when activists are able to take up action and articulate their own issues, interact with the authorities and confront culprits. However, it was also agreed that there is a need to advance leadership and critical consciousness of participant further to an extent that they are able to assist other activists outside the platform.
More time was spent on discussing movement building and campaigns with an understanding that campaigns are what binds all three objectives together. When one looks into issues of developing critical consciousness, movement building, policy advocacy and litigation – they are all brought together in campaigns.
To evaluate campaigns, participants listed all campaigns they have or are engaged in from clusters to national. Along the discussions, what was found is that the three main objectives of TA are what will assist to advance the struggle for land and agrarian transformation. This brought a different insight when the list ended with about 8 campaign. Then followed an intense discussion questioning each campaign:
- Is that really a campaign?
- Is it a TA campaign?
This process led to participants having to decide to step back and discuss: What is a campaign? After a long discussion, participant agreed that they only have four TA campaigns. Namely, #NoToEvictions at national level and the other ones being pursuit at cluster levels – commonage campaign, security of tenure and fair labour practices campaign and the access to market campaign.
Again, participants was a quite detailed discussion on these campaigns: what are these campaigns trying to achieve? Hoe effective were they? What did they achieve and what is outstanding? Generally, the feeling was that the cluster campaigns did not get-off the ground – still at conceptual level. The national campaign is quite and effective one. A discussion that was left open on the first objective was on movement building as there was a struggle on monitoring and evaluating movement building.
To give a broader possibility of engagement under policy advocacy and strategic litigation objective, the five guiding questions were reformulated to specific legal and policy work organisations are doing. Arising from the discussion, policy advocacy stood out as a comparative strength of the network. Although there is struggle in changing policy as envisioned, but there is level of clarity in terms of desired policies and in identifying problematic ones. Moreover, there is relative success at influencing policy at municipal level than the national one.
The picture became gloomy when discussing strategic litigation, there was no clarity on whether participants are engaged on strategic litigation or not, what it involves or requires. But beyond strategic litigation, participants are engaged in legal work on day to day basis. Participants have agreed for a need to have a systematic legal engagements.
To conclude day one following the mid-phase review, participants participated in sexual harassment session. To talk about sexual harassment in NGOs and in their work broadly; facilitated by Rape Crisis Center with a psychologist on site as well. This session was informed by the recent revelations of the prevalence of sexual harassment within the social justice sector. TA recognises that in order to address the power dynamics – particularly as these attach to gender – there is a need for more robust engagement to be promoted and facilitated within TA and involving the sector as a whole. Moreover, partner organisations will embark on a process of reviewing and strengthening their sexual harassment policies, engaging in internal discussions around how the organisations can ensure that all employees feel safe and confident when reporting cases of abuse, and that they have appropriate mechanisms in place to address these issues quickly and with the level of confidentiality and sensitivity that they require.
The second day of the Indaba began with the budget overview: how much has been spent, what is still available? And: how do participants plan to spend the remaining funds informed by the priorities and objectives? This session was led and facilitated by Virginia Brookes, followed by participants’ inputs and an open discussion.
The focus of the second day was on ‘priorities of the remaining phase’. In terms of the time left in phase three, focusing on campaigns – participants agreed on having a national campaign which binds TA together and gives it an identity. After considering alternatives, participants settled on #NoToEvictions campaign as a national one – with the provision that it will allow a broader understanding of evictions, adding other constituencies and grouping outside the farms. Other campaigns will also continue at cluster level with an addition of calling for service delivery on farms.
In terms of developing critical consciousness in conjunction with the evictions campaign, it was agreed that the issue of tenure systems should be prioritised. In terms of strategic litigation, it was agreed that when participants meet at the next Indaba there should have a session with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) on picking a strategic case on tenure systems. This session should identify a kind of engagement from participants in identifying and conceptualising a strategic litigation case, case preparations, studies and other support work required.
The following session was on thinking about phase four. Generally, participants agreed that the frame provided by three objectives of phase three remain relevant for phase four. With the new funding cycle, phase four should be a continuation.
Towards the conclusion, on the last day of the Indaba which focused on consolidation of priorities for phase three and suggestions for phase four, it was agreed that what came out of the Indaba was the concretisation of the directors’ retreat which happened months earlier.
In closing and proving a way-forward, Yeni indicated that both NGO staff and the directorshave had their review processes leaving out community formations. Therefore, local formations will have their review process at the next Indaba. At the same Indaba, the Steering Committee will finalize the priorities of the remaining phase and answer from the proposal the remaining questions of:
- What, how and when?
- What do we say about phase four in terms of content and structure of TA?
On that note, the Indaba adjourned.