Eight members of the Stress and Trauma Network, one of PACSA’s community partner groups, have graduated as qualified stress and trauma facilitators and counsellors; this is after receiving certificates in crisis and support and also an advance certificate in trauma counselling, through the University of Pretoria. The graduation ceremony took place in Pretoria on the 15th of May 2015. Through individual commitment and mutual support, members of the network have worked tirelessly to attain the qualifications, this included attending intensive lecture sessions, writing assignments and doing the course practical’s in order for them to qualify.
The YPO youth advocacy forum joined the May Day march in Durban this year. Bukiwe Zondi, from the YPO, reports on the march. We were invited by ALUTA of South African Students (ALUTA) to attend the workers day March in Durban. The march focussed on unemployment, poverty, labour brokers, slave wages, demanding for Free Education and quality health service. While the YPO interrogate questions and issues surrounding unemployment and different aspects of education this was an important place for listening and connecting.
Raymond Suttner, a veteran in the liberation struggle, launched his latest book, ‘Recovering Democracy in South Africa’, at a PACSA hosted event on the 16th April 2015. Through this book, Raymond advances the idea that South Africans must “become more actively involved in their own emancipation”. Democracy is about the ‘popular’ and more self-empowerment,” that we should expect more from our democratic system and “invest greater efforts in creative ways of building democracy and institutions that go beyond and augment what is found in the Constitution.”
The recent months we have again seen the horrible face of xenophobia spreading through our country resulting in an estimated 7 deaths. More than 5,000 people were forced to flee their homes with lives destroyed and living in fear. In Pietermaritzburg about 135 people, mainly from Malawi, fled their homes and were housed, by the municipality, at Dale’s Park in terrible living conditions, while awaiting repatriation back to their country of birth. PACSA has joined a number of faith-based NGO organisations to state clearly our opposition to xenophobia (see here) and created safe spaces for those who live in fear.
One of UMphithi Men’s Network’s objectives is to encourage just and healthy relationships between men and women. The idea behind the‘couple’s sessions‘is that a shared understanding of gender as social construct allows couple’s to find the means to renegotiate gender roles in their relationships and households.
Bernd and Almut Schulteiss, AGEH seconded consultants based in PACSA, hosted the annual AGEH-Fachkraefte in Amanzimtoti, near Durban, in April 2015. AGEH (http://www.ageh.de/english/start-page.html) is the German Catholic agency for international cooperation; and they provide personnel with specific expertise for development cooperation projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America or Central or Eastern Europe. Once a year the AGEH seconded personnel in Southern Africa meets for a few days to discuss common issues and re-connect.
The question of a minimum wage and the level at which such a minimum should be set is one of the most contested policy discussion in South Africa today. In order to explore this policy issue, Mervyn Abrahams (PACSA Director) together with Professor Nicoli Nattrass, University of Cape Town, and Mr. Terry Bell, labour journalist, made inputs at a roundtable discussion hosted by the CPLO in Cape Town.
"The Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) has based its call for a ZAR8 000 minimum wage on what it calls "the lived experience of ordinary people" of whom 53.8% live below the upper bound poverty line of ZAR779 a month and 21.7% on less than the food poverty line of ZAR335 a month, or ZAR11.17 a day, measured in 2011. In a document prepared in response to finance minister Nhlanhla Nene's maiden budget, Pacsa says its research in Pietermaritzburg showed that a household of five needs at least ZAR8 000 a month to live at a basic level."