Dr KIM LAMONT-MBAWULI
The world is experiencing unprecedented existential crisis. We living in a moment of global entanglement comprised of escalations and accelerations such as accelerated mobility both of goods, ideas and information and people. As a result COVID-19 virus resulted in a global crisis. According to Dr Eric Makoni, the traveller or globe trotter is always on the move has defined by the moment of global entanglement. Of which the intensification thereof has resulted in the escalated movement of the virus.
Unfortunately, there are skewed power relations there is easier movement for some than others. Regrettably the darker side of modernity are those that are exposed to a low socioeconomic status such as migrants. The precariat move is driven by hunger, poverty, wars, unemployment and natural disasters from one area in search of greener pastures.
According, to Boaventura de Sousa Santos the large Majority of the world’s population is not the subject of human rights. They are rather the object of human rights and discourses. On the other hand, various laws that govern mobility of the poor, have frequently resulted in their confinement and poverty. In some instances, it has rendered them permanent wanderers, refugees, and immigrants.
According to Tapiwa Diamond, migration involves the movement of people from place to place either internally within one country or sometimes from country to country. Migration has an effect on human capital on both individual and household level. It is deeply embedded in rational policy calculations, entrenched political position, impassioned public debate and the subject of emotive narratives and personal stories. It is inherently political it is the human costs of conflict and perilous journeys in search of safety. There is a plethora of compelling factors that
push people to migrate, with a clear dream of something better, something more attractive, a mirage of a better and safer future. If considered carefully it means that the migrant journeys are path unknown for a better tomorrow.
Forced displacement (also referred to as forced migration) is the involuntary or compelled movement of people away from their home or region. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines
‘forced displacement’ more narrowly as: displaced “as a consequence of persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations”.
Subsequently, resulting in acquired vulnerabilities that are specific to them, including catastrophic losses of assets or trauma. It perpetuates the vicious circle wherein there is a lack of economic opportunities, and it traps them in poverty. These vulnerabilities set them apart from other poor people in the communities where they live, broad-based poverty reduction efforts may not suffice to relieve their plight and special interventions are needed. To sustain host communities, development actors should help manage the shock caused by an inflow of forcibly
displaced persons. The arrival of large numbers of people in specific locales creates both risks and opportunities. In most situations, it transforms the environment for designing and implementing poverty reduction programs. In some exceptional cases, it creates new dynamics for the entire country and national development strategies have to be adjusted accordingly. In addition to this pandemics like COVID 19 have exacerbated crisis situation for migrants
According to the IOM there are 272 million international migrants worldwide are more vulnerable than others because of personal, social, situational and structural factors. Persons displaced internally and across borders are particularly at risk.
IMPACT ON MOBILITY
With measures introduced by governments to ‘flatten the curve’ of infections, the COVID-19 pandemic is already greatly impacting mobility and migration. Travel restrictions were passed to contain the virus, including by prohibiting entry of residents from other countries, and some countries have closed their borders entirely. Labour migration has been temporarily suspended in some countries while, in others, migration processing and assistance to asylum seekers are being slowed down. These mobility restrictions and concerns over exposing refugees to
the novel Coronavirus have forced the International Organization for Migration and the United High Commissioner for Refugees to temporarily suspend refugees’ resettlement travels.
Refugees often settle into host communities which are among the poorest in their countries or in remote or border areas, where residents are already struggling to obtain jobs and adequate public services. While some migrants may be healthier than their receiving community, others have health vulnerabilities which can be due to; socioeconomic status; being in crowded or otherwise suboptimal environments; restriction to eligibility or access to services, including health services as a result of the migration status; or cultural-linguistic barriers or access to health information.
IMPACT ON MIGRANT CHILDREN
According UNICEF analysis based on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, migrant and displaced children are among the most vulnerable populations on the globe. In 2019, around 33 million children were living outside of their country of birth, including many who were forcibly displaced across borders. At the end of 2018, a total of over 31 million children were living in forced displacement in their own country or abroad due to violence and conflict. This includes some 13 million child refugees, around 1 million asylum-seeking children, and an estimated 17 million children displaced within their own countries.
It is estimated that 3.7 million children live in refugee camps or collective centres. Further to this COVID-19 threatens to bring even more uncertainty and harm to their lives. A UNICEF study titled, “Steps Up COVID-19 Preparedness, Prevention, and Response Measures” demonstrated that almost 4 in 10 children and young people on the move do not have access to facilities to properly wash themselves in countries like Somalia, Ethiopia and the Sudan. Notwithstanding the fact that half of those respondents were aged between 14–24 years in a UNICEF poll and
self-identified as migrants and refugees and further indicated that they did not see a doctor when needed.
This has become a harsh reality for many children around the world. Children in situations like these may face the added risk of being detained by immigration authorities, potentially exposing them to violence, abuse or exploitation. Migrant and displaced children across contexts are at risk of missing out on accurate public health information, due to language barriers or simply being cut off from communication networks. Undocumented children living in foreign countries may fear contact with public authorities. Meanwhile, misinformation on the spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated the xenophobia and discrimination that migrant and displaced children and their families face.
IMPACT ON HEALTH
The lack of or inappropriate health insurance, often coupled to insufficient financial resources, may negatively impact migrants. Undocumented migrants can find it more difficult to access care, as outside activity needs to be registered with authorities or they may be reluctant to enter medical facilities for fear of being reported if no appropriate firewalls exist regarding data sharing with the immigration and law enforcement authorities.
- Crowded living environments may also affect the implementation of preventive measures such as social distancing.
- This is for instance the case for undocumented migrants in administrative detention, refugees in camps or migrant workers in highly populated migrant camps.
VACCINE ROLL OUT AND MIGRANTS
COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun, and U.S. refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) populations, who are dis-proportionately affected by COVID-19, face well-known barriers to vaccination. If not addressed, these barriers likely will result in a lost opportunity to save lives. The recent report from the National Academies Press, Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine (Framework), offers specific and helpful recommendations for conducting an equitable vaccine campaign, although implementation thereof remains.
Migrants in SA particularly undocumented are concerned about not being vaccinate. The vaccine is being rolled out to health workers. What’s required when you receive the shot; is to show that you have got an ID. For those who are
undocumented the documentation process make it difficult to obtain a vaccination. Albeit it has been explicitly stated that all adults, regardless of their documentation will receive the vaccine– irrespective of nationality or residence status – would receive the vaccine during the roll-out because “it is in the best interests of all that as many of us receive the vaccine as possible”.
However, Migrants have said that there is a lack of clarity in terms of how the vaccine roll out will be undertaken because of the systemic Xenophobia or uneasiness when providing health care to non-citizens. In a recent study, published in Plos one, in December on healthcare providers and migrants accessing medical services in Gauteng, respondents/Participants in the study reported that they had witnessed discrimination and differential treatment when it came to migrants.
In this age of global entanglement, Covid has made us realise inter alia the following;
1) we are not invincible.
2) we need each other as human beings.
3) we need to respect the natural environment all the people in it.
4) when fully understand the spirit of Ubuntu and solidarity that another world is possible – and it must be realised.
This new world must be predicated on common humanity, respect of the spirit-world, respect for the (non-human world), and the centering of knowledge’s marginalised by global capitalism. After all, there is only one earth
that we all live in.
A U T H O R S H O R T B I O
Dr Kim Lamont-Mbawuli is the CEO of Simanye Clinic, Head of Litigation at Ebi Okeng Attorneys Inc, Chief Legal Officer at Alternative Energy and Chairperson for Pan African Network for Investment and Development. During the period between 2007 to 2012 she completed her Honours in Human Biology, MSc in Medicine (Med) and PhD (Med). In 2015, she completed an MPhil in Intellectual Property Law. In 2019 she graduated with her LLB at Unisa, she completed her Practical legal training with LEAD and was Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa. She is an Attorney at Law/General Practitioner.
Transitional Justice: Evaluating the Importance of Reparation, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation- A South African Perspective
Image source: Days Of The Year website
According to Benyera, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the end of Apartheid. Anybody who felt they had been a victim of violence and injustice during this time could come forward and be heard at the TRC. Further to this the perpetrators of violence would give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution.
The TRC hearings made international news and many sessions were broadcast. The TRC played a crucial role in the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa and, despite some flaws, is generally regarded as very successful.
The mandate that the TRC was given was to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to human rights violations, reparation and rehabilitation. The TRC had several members which included; Archbishop Desmond Tutu (chairperson), Dr Alex Boraine (Deputy Chairperson), Mary Burton, Advocate Chris de Jager, Bongani Finca, Sisi Khampepe, Richard Lyster, Wynand Malan, Reverend Khoza Mgojo, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Dumisa Ntsebeza (head of the Investigative Unit), Wendy Orr, Advocate Denzil Potgieter, Mapule Ramashala, Dr Faizel Randera, Yasmin Sooka and Glenda Wildschut.
TRC AND RECONCILIATION ACT
TRC was set up by an Act of Parliament, the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act. This Act gives effect to the aim of TRC which is to:
- make proposals for measures that will give reparation to victims of human rights violations; and
- rehabilitate and give back the human and civil dignity of people who suffered human rights violations.
Further to this the Act also says that the Committee on Reparation and Rehabilitation must endorse and provide recommendation to the President in terms of ways of assisting victims. It is the President and Parliament, and not this Committee, who will decide what to do and how to do it. The recommendations from the Committee will be in the Final Report sent to the President after the Commission has completed its work.
Therefore the role of the Committee is to make recommendations which deal with interim reparation which is for those that require immediate assistance because of the gross human rights violations they suffered.
The Act requires the President and the Ministers of Justice and Finance to establish a President’s Fund. Victims who qualify for assistance will be paid from this Fund.
The importance of reparation, reconciliation and rehabilitation can be described as what can be done to assist victims overcome the damage that they suffered and to make sure that these human rights violations or abuses never happen again. Although this could include money, a financial payment is not the only form of reparation and rehabilitation that the Committee recommends. The Committee looked at individuals, communities and the nation as a whole when making recommendations to achieve reparation and rehabilitation.
In terms of Compensation section 1 of the Promotion of National Unity Act 34 of 1995 defines reparation as any kind compensation, ex gratia payment (payment in favour of), restitution, rehabilitation or recognition which would mean that government is responsible for the payment of reparations. The (TRC report vol. 5, 1998. Ch. 5) stipulates the following five elements of the reparation and rehabilitation policy:
1. Urgent interim reparation: These reparations are more focused on individuals with urgent financial or services need and there was a small budget to facilitate it. The urgent interim reparation was the first form of monetary reparations and it was meant for approximately 17 000 victims who were in dire need of help (Daly 2003: 378).
2. Individual reparation grants: These kinds of grants were those paid to Individual victims of human rights violations for a period of six years would receive monetary reparations. These reparation grants needed to promote three goals, namely,
According to Daly 2003, it was of paramount importance to recognise the victims’ suffering and restore the victims’ individual dignity, facilitate service delivery and subsidise daily living costs.
MECHANISMS FOR RECONCILIATION
According to the Justice site, the committee on TRC had come up with guiding principles which then aided with proposals that prompt and promote reconciliation these included the following;
Development centred: A development-centred approach means that individuals and communities are helped to take control back. To take control of their own lives through the dissemination of information and the use of knowledge particularly with regard to available resources and to help them use these resources in the way that benefits them most.
Simple, Efficient and Fair: All the available resources were used in a way that would give the most benefit to the people who receive them.
Culturally Appropriate: The process of rehabilitation needed to be sensitive to the religious and cultural beliefs of the community.
Community-based: Community-based services and delivery should be strengthened and expanded. For the people by the people.
Capacity Development: Local capacity building as well as the delivery of services were addressed as part of addressing the imbalances of the past.
Promoting Healing and Reconciliation: The aim of TRC was to bring people together and to promote understanding and reconciliation.
The TRC land reform programme consisted of three components that were adopted: According to an article by Diale the components were as follows; first, the restitution of land to those that were dispossessed of land after 1913; second, redistribution to rectify the racially skewed distribution of land which was resultant of colonial and apartheid policies, and; third, tenure reform for those whose tenure was insecure because of past discriminatory laws and practices.
The Restitution of Land Rights Act, No 22 of 1994, geared the Chief Land Claims Commissioner which would oversee the Regional Land Claims Commissions, which subsequently investigate cases and take them to the Land Claims Court for settlement. Because of the slow initial rate of delivery, the Restitution Act was amended in 1999 to provide for administrative settlements of claims: the Land Claims Court which would be used only in those cases where agreement could not be reached – as in the Dukuduku land claim.
Dukuduku Land Claim case
The Dukuduku forest in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa is subject to one such claim to land restitution, which remains unsettled for over 10 years. The Dukuduku forest was supposed to be incorporated into the wetland park as an World Heritage Site. The forest houses many subsistence farmers, of which some form part of the group of land claimants. There is an interplay of community and authority and in so doing setting the pace of where claims for historical redress materialises both in processes of land restitution and in the acquisition of land through ‘illegal squatting’.
Knut G, suggests that Dukuduku forest encompasses and explores the strongly desired and well deserved restoration of lost rights to land and resources and the formalisation of these rights which then draws on both our past and the present to form a caveat with its intricately woven complexity it defies such straightforward processes. The land claim process feeds into existing struggles and creates new ones, and in this way, the larger cause of the land claimants – to obtain recognition of property claims and land belonging – is infused by conflicts external and internal to the community of claimants.
In closing, redressing the imbalances and injustices of the past require countries to find ways of emerging from conflict and repression by addressing human rights violations. Transitional justice is entrenched in accountability and redress for victims. Ignoring massive abuses is an easy way out but it destroys the values on which any decent society can be built. Therefore the toughest balancing act must be engaged by finding a balance between the law and politics of the past and in doing so putting victims and their dignity first, it signals the way forward for a renewed commitment to make sure ordinary citizens are safe in their own countries – safe from the abuses of their own authorities and effectively protected from violations by others.
Written by: Dr. Kim Lamont-Mbawuli
Sunsets and Waterfalls Book Launch: Restoring Hearts for a Better South Africa
Sunsets and Waterfalls Founders, Cindy Jacobs and Toni Erasmus (Source: Toni Erasmus)
Being plunged straight into an unprecedented global pandemic and having been challenged with the devastating realities of our country, Sunsets and Waterfalls (S&W) saw an opportunity in realising that South Africans hold the answers to their own generational outcry. With that being said, straight out of a pandemic, Sunsets and Waterfalls (S&W) was birthed. Founded by Cindy Jacobs and Toni Erasmus, S&W is a platform for South African women, children and families – empowering all to share their raw and real stories.
These two women have a shared vision to drive change at both grassroots and government level, where they aim to develop and impact South Africa and her leaders to restore the soul of our nation by tackling the core issues of our nation- one story and one heart at a time.
On the 1st and 2nd of May 2021, Jacobs and Erasmus launched their poetry book “Sunsets and Waterfalls”, a poetry book designed to connect and empower all people to own their raw and real stories. The book is a compilation of over 300 poetry pieces and 300 impactful line art illustrations by Carter Constant, depicting the raw and real-life events and stories of two women who have bravely overcome the traumatic experiences and enlightenment of their broken hearts.
“We need young leaders with new ideas, new approaches and empathy to effect meaningful change.” This was the view of Melene Rossouw, co-founder and director of the Women Lead Movement, speaking at Gallery South, situated in Muizenberg on Sunday, 2 May 2021 – one of the events of their weekend launch.
Young as they are, they recognise that this is not an exclusively personal and individual journey. They know that the soul of the nation, South Africa, is deeply wounded, and they seek to enable people in local communities to become active change drivers who can pursue social change at both grassroots and government levels.
“I’m really honoured to be sharing this day with both Toni and Cindy,” said Rossouw. “In my brief but deeply insightful engagement with these two exceptional leaders, I was transcended in both mind and soul,” she said. When she met them, Rossouw was immediately struck by the young women’s authenticity born of their ability to consciously explore their own wounded histories, personal and political.
“We want the entire South Africa to join in as we believe: When hearts unite, mountains move!”
Rethinking African Leadership: Right resources, wrong leaders
African Leaders at the African Union building (Source: AU)
How possible is it that the continent with the most of the world’s natural resources, hardworking labour force and favourable climate conditions could have earned the title of being labeled poor and be reduced to beggars than those that have less resources? The scenario that Africa has created of being rich but not prosperous has presented a paradox whose puzzle needs a careful consideration to spot the missing link to enable Africa retain its rightful title, “The prosperous land of opportunity.”
Since the management of resources and the driving of the development agenda falls mainly on leaders, the attainment of real meaningful development can best be achieved when there is in place the right leaders who are selfless and put the interests of their countries and continent above their own. With many African countries having attained independence decades ago, what type of leaders should be put in place to change the African Narrative?
Development focused leaders
Over 20% of current African leaders have been in power for over 20 years and seem to have run out of ideas of what to do differently. They instead usually maintain the status quo of running affairs despite shifts in various development fundamentals. This trend has resulted in rampant corruption, political instability and economic stagnation because the leaders become preoccupied with how retain power and silence challengers at the expense of development. Most African countries are engulfed in discussing political issues and other non-development essential matters that have painted their countries black, thus affecting local investor confidence. For a country to be able to produce enough for exports, it must be able to focus on producing more than local demand and create a suitable environment for the each sector to thrive.
However, African countries have focused their efforts on political issues and planning how to win the next election instead of what milestone to achieve. This derails efforts to work towards real development. African countries have nicely drawn up development plans with well elaborated visions and objectives but the challenge has been implementation. Therefore, Africa needs leaders who are focused and determined to develop it.
Local solution believers
Speaking at the UN general Assembly in 1984, former president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara argued that „it was time for men of Africa to come to their senses and turn to their societies to develop solutions that will be credible even at the international level. Leaders must carry out profound changes so that they free themselves from the foreign domination and exploitation that lead only to failure of the countries.‟ Africa needs leaders who believe in local solutions and will advocate advancing these solutions. Not leaders who always parade problems before advanced countries, seeking for aid and solutions like beggars who are helpless.
Statistics have shown that, while Africa receives help in various sectors, it loses more. The Health Poverty Action report research found that while about $134 billion flows in Africa in each year largely in form of loans, foreign investment and aid, over $192 billion is taken out in profits made by foreign companies, tax evasion and in costs of adapting to climate change which results into a net loss of about $58 billion annually. For how long will African leaders seek foreign help when they can believe and try local solutions suggested by their people? It is interesting to note that while it is the responsibility of leaders to improve the living conditions of their people and provide better health facilities, a number of African leaders would rather seek medical care from advanced countries.
Unsurprisingly, a number of African leaders have died in foreign countries while seeking treatment and this point to the fact that they do not believe in their medical facilities. Africa needs leaders who will eat, drink, work, rejoice and face problems together with their people and make a difference together. It is not enough to build hospitals that leaders themselves fail to go to or have schools which they cannot send their children. Therefore, Africa needs leaders who will inspire confidence in their people and be open to listen and support local solutions.
The leaders that Africa needed at the time of independence achieved their aspirations and gained the freedom that they sought. But times and challenges have since changed and African problems are no longer about seeking independence and therefore, Africa needs leaders that can read the time and accommodate change. The problem of having long serving leaders has been that they want to use the development mechanisms that worked decades ago and apply it in today’s world. Knowledge and technology have advanced; populations have grown and therefore needs have increased and changed. Africa needs leaders who will collaborate to develop it.
The ideal African leader is one that will upscale the interests of Africa first and work with others to maximise the African potential in trade, resources and prosperity. What is worrying about Africa is the fact that it trades more with countries outside the continent than among member countries. The share of exports from Africa with the rest of the world ranged from 80 – 90% for the period 2000 to 2017 (Economic Development in Africa Report, 2019) while intra Africa exports averaged only 16.6%. To boost economic fortunes, leaders must support the Africa Continental Free Trade Area with a view of working together in solving local problems.
Africa also needs leaders who accommodate the views of the youths who are creative, energetic, and innovative and not view them as a threat. Youths are usually updated with latest changes that should be incorporated in the development matrix of today’s world and therefore, they should not be side-lined with an out-dated proverb “youths are the leaders of tomorrow” when the future and tomorrow is now.
Indeed, despite the abundant availability of needed resources for development, Africa’s current situation can largely be blamed on leaders it has had. Leadership mindset change is therefore needed now than ever before.
Written by: Nchimunya Muvwende, an Economist