Letter to The Honourable Kwazi Mshengu, KZN MEC for Education

29 May 2020

Letter – Department of Education and Teachers’ unions

ATT:       The Honourable Kwazi Mshengu, KZN MEC for Education

Mr. Sandile Phakathi, KZN Head of Ministry for Education

Dr Ngogi Mahaye, Director, KZN Department of Education

Thirona Moodley, Provincial Chief Executive Officer, NAPTOSA

Nomarashiya Caluza, Provincial Secretary, SADTU

C.S. Barnes, General Secretary, NATU

Innes Kritzinger, Provincial Chair, SAOU

Sithembiso Sithole, Provincial Chair, PEU

Dear Colleagues,

We, leaders representing ecumenical churches in KZN, write to you at this time when many are fatigued of lockdown and yet concerned about the risks of allowing our children back to school. We affirm the support and leadership that our government is continuously providing during this challenging time. We equally understand that it is in the interest of government and parents to ensure that the future of our children is not jeopardized by them being out of school for longer than necessary. We also affirm your concern for the safety of every child and educator to be a priority before they can resume their normal activities.

We applaud the announcement made by the Department of Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, that some learners will be able to start returning to school. The truth is that school is where learners spend most of their time not only for education but also for access to food, a safer space than their homes and a space to socialize with their peers.

However, safety in schools during this time of the COVID 19 pandemic is a priority, not only to the learners but also teachers, administration and other support staff. People at risk include those involved in the transportation of the learners to and from school. As a result, parents and guardians need assurance that they are making the right decision when they let their children return to school. With this is also the agreement between the teacher trade unions and the department of basic education on the safety pre-conditions which must be adhered to by government before learning can take place. This agreement is in line with the protocols that have been put in place and the same procedures that are used everywhere else where screening and testing needs to take place.

We note with concern some of the challenges currently faced by schools:

  • Slow or non-delivery of PPE
  • provision of water tanks
  • provision of additional classrooms
  • refurbishment of vandalized classes
  • cleaning and disinfecting of schools

We also note the Statement put out by the SAHRC Urging the Minister of Basic Education to reconsider the date for reopening schools for Grade 7 and 12 learners because the above challenges have not yet been adequately addressed.

We therefore, call on our Provincial government and Teachers’ Unions to support the educators and learners by ensuring that the following issues are prioritized and implemented as a matter of urgency:

  • Speed up the supply and delivery (using local service providers where possible) of PPE.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of schools
  • A clear plan on teachers and learners with co-morbidities or existing illnesses, including teachers older than 60 years. For learners this needs to include ensuring they have access to age- and grade-appropriate high-quality online and telephonic educational support together with an uncomplicated procedure to register for an online stream.
  • Appointment of people who will administer sanitizing and screening of learners and teachers during school hours
  • Employment of replacement teachers
  • Provision of water tanks where these are not yet in place to ensure hand-washing is possible
  • Additional classrooms to support physical and social distancing
  • Provision of security of the PPE when delivered in schools in light of the burglaries and break-ins that schools have experienced over this time
  • Provision and safety of scholar transport
  • Provision of adequate funding for implementing these measures

We also request that the opening up creches is urgently discussed by the department. As the economy opens, this places care-givers (particularly mothers) in an impossible situation. Additionally, young children are also extremely vulnerable to sexual and other exploitation if they are left alone at home or in the care of an inappropriate family member. We have heard some horrendous reports. Hence our concern that a suitable way forward be found, which safeguards our young children.

We would also like to highlight that there are churches within our coalition who have offered their buildings to be used at this time, as additional classrooms to make physical distancing easier. We are open to discussion on how this could be done.

Finally, we fear that failure to meet these important suggested safety measures will cause a disastrous loss of confidence by parents in government systems thereby eroding all the good work that has been achieved thus far. We offer our prayers for wisdom for you all in this important time.

In faith,

+ Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM, Chairperson of the KwaZulu Natal Church Leaders Group and Chairperson of the KZN Inter Religious Council.

Dean Nkosinathi Myaka, Chairperson of the KwaZulu Natal Christian Council

Bishop Nathi Zondi, on behalf of the Steering Committee of the KZN: Covid 19 Churches Respond project.

KZN Covid-19: Churches Respond: Letter to His excellency, President C. Ramaphosa

11 April 2020
The Presidency President Cyril Ramaphosa Union Buildings Government Avenue Pretoria Email: presidentrsa@presidency.gov.za Copied: Honourable KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala

Dear Sir, Your Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa

KZN Covid-19: Churches Respond – Affirming your Leadership and Pledging Our Support
We are a broad and inclusive coalition of Churches, Christian Associations, Ecumenical Networks and Ministers’ Fraternals committed to using our extensive footprint across the KwaZulu Natal Province to respond more effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lockdown and their respective impact.
Your Excellency, today, we wish to applaud and affirm your leadership and that of the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize in this time of disaster. We further express our appreciation for the work of the KZN Premier, Honourable Sihle Zikalala as well as the MEC for Health, Honourable Nomagugu Simelani-Zulu for meeting and updating Church Leaders on the way forward. We express our full support for your government’s efforts to save lives and in the process “flatten the curve”. We do this even as we stand in solidarity and mourning with the millions around KZN and the country whose very lives are threatened by both the Coronavirus and the extended lockdown.
In particular we affirm the generous and commendable example set by you, your Cabinet and the Premiers, of pledging a third of your salary to the Solidarity Fund. This is a powerful gesture of inestimable symbolic value. We gladly notify you that the Churches across the KwaZulu Natal province, are pledging R1 million to the relief emergency in our province.

As a Church united against the pandemic, we are putting together Emergency Relief that will roll-out cash vouchers to 1000 vulnerable families in each of the 11 Districts over the next three months through our Church-based fundraising efforts.

Other elements of our provincial plan include; (i) Communications, Education and Awareness, (ii) Pastoral care and Support, (iii) Advocacy and support around social and economic vulnerability. All of this is undergirded by an inter-denominal space for prayer and theological reflection. Full details are available on our website www.covid19response.co.za.

As Church Leaders, we continue calling on all churches, Christian Associations and ecumenical organisations and networks in KZN to come on board with specific and practical support for the coordinated work taking place at Ward level through the various Church structures we are setting up.

We further support your call for those who have resources to make a similar contribution urgently. Now is the time for sacrifice, for self-sacrificing generosity, and most importantly for Corporate responsibility, care and solidarity.

We are grateful for the third dimension of your latest strategy to address COVID-19, the programme of increased social support to protect poor and vulnerable households. We need to express our anxiety and concern for the poorest and most vulnerable at this time. May we urge you to expedite that relief through the Solidarity Fund as soon as possible.

We are receiving daily calls from across all 11 Districts from desperate individuals and communities, including some who don’t know where their next meal or rental payment is going to come from; from survivors who remain in abusive homes because they are afraid of starvation; from car guards, refugees and casual workers do not have any income. We endorse your call to support these, the most vulnerable urgently.

As we commemorate the death and celebrate the resurrection of Christ this weekend, we move from grief and lamentation to hope and new life for all humanity. This Crisis reminds us that we hold in tension the fear of death on the cross and the hope of the resurrection to a new life of Christ. At this time, we pray most ardently that he creates for us a new, more just dispensation for all South Africans.

Christ is risen! He is alive! The Resurrection is real!

+ Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM, Chairperson of the KwaZulu Natal Church Leaders Group and Chairperson of the KZN Inter Religious Council.

Dean Nkosinathi Myaka, Chairperson of the KwaZulu Natal Christian Council

Bishop KE Khomo, President Interdenominational African Ministers Association in South Africa (IDAMASA)

Bishop B Mchunu, President Church Leaders Council of South Africa (CLCSA)

Bishop Nathi Zondi, Truevine Family of Churches

Rev Sipho Sokhela, National General Secretary South Africa YMCA.

Daniela Gennrich, Coordinator We Will Speak Out South Africa

Rev Gregory Matthei, Baptist Union of Southern Africa

Rev Janice Nomvuyo Mpuqa, Chairperson of the Thukela, Amajuba & Mzinyathi Christian Council

Bishop BM Buthelezi, Chairperson of the KwaZulu Region Christian Council

Archbishop Sthembiso BB Ngcamu, Chairperson of the Southern KwaZulu Natal Christian Council

Healing of Memories and Reconciliation (HoMaR) Consortium

   

Everyone has a story to tell and every story needs to be heard, acknowledged, and respected. This is the first step to personal healing as well as healing of interpersonal relationships. By exploring and acknowledging the emotional wounds carried by nations, communities and individuals, the workshop enables people from diverse backgrounds to confront sources of alienation and conflict.

HIV/AIDS

Those infected and affected by HIV/Aids have often experienced deep trauma, including rejection by those nearest to them and prejudice from the wider community. Therefore they need to deal with psychological and emotional feelings on their capacity to rebuild their lives.

Migrants/ Refugees

Many people who live in exile carry painful memories and experiences from their earlier life, the emotional burden of which are exacerbated by experiences of rejection, prejudice and loss of identity in their new country.

Women and care-givers

This workshop is for mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters and other care-givers. While much is expected of them, they usually receive little support and often themselves victims of discrimination or abuse.

Prisoners

Prisoners rarely have access to types of restoratives justice Programmes that enable them to take responsibility for their behavior and acknowledge the pain and suffering they have caused.

Interfaith groups

Churches and mosques in particular have often been at the sharp end of efforts to bring about healing and reconciliation between divided communities.

Children

To create a safe space for young children were their voices can be heard; assist them in identifying the emotions they experience; provide them with tools to express their emotions and teach them about empathy, love and Ubuntu and non-violence.

Inter-generation/Youth

The workshop allows youth to deal with their painful feelings in order to become tomorrow’s conciliators and agents of positive change.

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.

Children & Youth Programme

   

THE PROGRAMME IN A NUTSHELL 

Coordinated by a young, passionate and vibrant Rev.Nkululeko Khumalo; the KZNCC Children & Youth Programme specialises on caring for children and youth that are subjected to a wide range of social and economic difficulties: psycho-social distress, grief, stigma, discrimination, isolation, and economic deprivation, loss of educational opportunity, burdensome domestic responsibilities, and fear for their own future. As a result of the socio-economic situation and the HIV and AIDS epidemic, all children in our province, particularly are potentially vulnerable.  There are many ways of defining and evaluating vulnerability, yet in this case the communities we work with themselves best define vulnerability.  We depend on them in identifying the children known to be vulnerable.

OBJECTIVES :

Promote the wellbeing, resilience and dignity of children who live in exceptionally difficult circumstances and are not easily accessible because of their location, their work or their circumstances.

Mobilise local churches, local ecumenical organisations, local business and local families to practically contribute sustainable solutions to the plight of children at risk, protect children and promote children’s rights. (Strengthening community based initiatives and social safety nets);

Workshops to develop skills of children, raise awareness and educate communities so that there is an increased respect of children’s rights.

Strengthen existing strategic networking and partnerships among stakeholders in order to exchange and expand knowledge, skills and experience, strengthen capacity building and lobbying and advocacy for child rights and increase human and institutional resource mobilisation by December 2019;

Increase child participation where appropriate in all issues that concern them from community, district to provincial level, considering their evolving capacities;

Increase the percentage of children with birth certificates in KZN by at least 25% by December 2019;

Increase new school enrolment of OVC in KZN by at least 25% by December 2019, while ensuring retention of OVC in primary and secondary schools;

Increase access to nutritious food, health services, shelter, water and sanitation for all OVC by December 2020;

Reduce the number of children who live outside of a family environment by at least 25% by December 2020 (this includes children living without adult guidance, children living on the streets, and children in institutions).

Street Children are exposed to risks such as substance abuse, prostitution, health hazards and crime.

 

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Churches’ Provincial Advocacy Office

Churches’ Provincial Advocacy Office

 

Right from the establishment of the KZNCC, we were aware that one of its most important roles would be to help the Church engage with public policy from a faith perspective. A consensus developed that a specialised programme would be the best way to achieve this, so the Churches’ Provincial Advocacy Office (CPAO) was established in 2003. This provides a platform for constructive and critical engagement with Kwazulu-Natal’s provincial legislature and government. It ensures that a Christian influence is brought to bear on the provincial legislature and that social services are effectively delivered, especially to the poor and marginalised.

Emphases:

  • Clearly articulating the KZNCC position on current issues and events;
  • Engaging with provincial government on key aspects of policy, especially as these affect the poor;
  • Facilitating church submissions to policy makers so as to influence policy formulation and implementation;
  • Training and supporting member churches and organisations in lobbying and advocacy related to key aspects of delivery;
  • Developing the CPAO’s research capacity, and using research undertaken by others;
  • Supporting the advocacy and lobbying components of all KZNCC programmes;
  • Initialising and supporting community advocacy campaigns
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KZN Church AIDS Network

AIDSThe KZNCAN, which was jointly initiated by church leaders and the KZNCC in 2004, encourages churches and Christian organisations to respond effectively to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. It networks and partners with interfaith organisations and civil society. Its most significant projects are “Men and Gender”, the Male Caregivers’ Programme, and “Sisters of Faith in Action and Advocacy” (SOFIA).

Men and Gender aims to transform men and institutions in the context of HIV and AIDS and poverty. It mobilises and supports men in church leadership positions to influence their peers to change their attitudes and behaviour, in the struggle against HIV and AIDS. The Male Caregivers’ Programme challenges men to become caregivers for people affected by or infected by HIV and AIDS. SOFIA organises women to reflect on and advocate for gender justice and development.

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Emphases of KZNCAN:

  • Promoting cooperation, resource-sharing and innovation among churches and ecumenical structures working on HIV and AIDS;
  • Facilitating liaison between churches, NGOs and government;
  • Equipping churches with skills to initiate HIV and AIDS programmes and/or to integrate these into their overall work;
  • Devising prevention campaigns and strategies, also for TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections;
  • On the basis or research, designing appropriate interventions to support child-headed households;
  • Mentoring church-based organisations catering for orphans and vulnerable children;
  • Continuing to develop and promote a theology of a caring community;

Emphases of Men and Gender:         

  • Encouraging and training men to give practical care and psychosocial support;
  • Collaborating with health institutions in giving such care;
  • Discussing with men how they are socialised into particular forms of masculinity;
  • Lobbying government and other institutions about issues affecting this Programme;
  • Extending the Programme to additional areas of the Province;
  • Supporting Men’s Forums to increase the impact of the Programme;
  • Developing materials on gender justice suited to the KZN context.

Emphases of SOFIA:         

  • Mobilising women throughout discussions about how male children are socialised into a particular kind of masculinity;
  • Together with tertiary institutions and seminaries, compiling and analysing stories about how women are impeded from effectively contributing to development and leadership in society;
  • Creating spaces for dialogue, networking and partnerships;
  • Running workshops and theological reflections on the experiences of women as presented in the scriptures of various faith groups.

Whenever possible and appropriate, the KZNCC encourages participants in SOFIA and Men and Gender to discuss issues of mutual concern.

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KZN Land Issues Programme

KZN Land Issues Programme

The KZNCC Assembly of 2007 mandated the organisation to play a more proactive role in attending to land issues in the province. Baseline research in both white and black communities revealed a willingness to meet and find solutions together. KZNCC is now assisting the land stakeholders to find solutions through promoting dialogue among them. The starting point was an understanding that conflicts about land will always be complex and may be resolved with an active and equal participation of those directly involved at local level including church leaders.

farm

Emphases:

  • Promoting healing and reconciliation through processes like “Healing of Memories”, “Alternatives to Violence” (AVP), “Non-violent Communication”, and “Managing Diversity”;
  • Facilitating constructive dialogue between farmers and farm dwellers;
  • Offering capacity-building training for partners and stakeholders in communication, conflict resolution, lobbying and advocacy skills;
  • Hosting an annual provincial summit for stakeholders to share experiences, seek common ground and explore opportunities for collaboration;
  • Focusing on women living in rural communities and on farms who are affected by land issues;
  • Responding to human rights abuses which are raised by any group;
  • Publicising inspiring success stories;
  • Wherever possible, working closely with other organisations involved in land issues.