The Bafokeng Land Buyers Association was invited to attend a conference on “Human Rights Civil society Organisations Provincial Participatory Democracy Forum”. The conference, convened by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) together with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development was held at the Orion Hotel on the 22nd of November 2011.
The purpose of the forum was : to provide space for civil society to exchange views and discuss the key challenges that they face in the province and raise awareness of and strengthen existing mechanisms which facilitate interactions between CBOs and Government. The forum was attended by a number of local civil society organizations in the human rights space, who exchanged views with government on the challenges facing them in advancing human rights. An overview presentation was delivered by Komane Development Services on the state of human rights in North West. The Human Rights challenges identified in the presentation inter alia includes poverty and inequality, unemployment, access to basic education, basic healthcare services and facilities, violence against non nationals and adequate housing and shelter. Deliberations were robust, with a number of community activists raising concern over the inaccessibility of Human Rights Commission, Public Protector, Justice Complaints Commission by poor rural communities. Communities around the Bafokeng are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses by rampant mining operations taking place in their areas. ‘We hope that FHR and Department could work hand in hand with communities in accessing civil rights institutions which are not responsive to vulnerable communities’ said Tsitsing activist, Khunou.
Hassen Lorgat, the facilitator, indicated that ‘participatory democracy is a system of democracy where political decisions are made directly by ordinary people’, and that the aim of the conference was to achieve exactly that. ‘Communities must be involved, and not left out on policy actions that affect their daily lives’.
It was resolved that FHR will strengthen their support for local civic organizations in terms of funding, institutional support, capacity development, and access to justice.