Revolutionary Speaking – President’s Weekly Column – Volume 1 Issue 5

Vol 1: Issue 5
4 November 2022
Yet another massive and expensive conference was convened in South Africa on 1-2 November 2022.  The ANC-led government of South Africa seems to think the “conferencialisation” of the country’s socioeconomic problems is a viable solution. 
This particular one was the second Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.  The first one was held in 2018 after the nationwide action by the #TheTotalShutdown movement to shut down the country if the government continued with its lack of commitment to address the scourge of the GBVF.  Of interest is that the first conference was convened by government as a response to one of the 24 demands by the gender activists.
Gender activists and civil society are not convinced that there was a need to host yet another expensive conference just to report back on the “progress done” when there is nothing to write home about on the fight against GBVF in South Africa.  For example, the Department of Justice was mandated to develop legislation that would establish a GBVF council within six months of the sitting of the 2018 conference.  Four years later, there is only a draft that has been submitted to NEDLAC for consideration.
Even though the facts are self-evident, statistics has been kind to confirm that men are the predominant perpetrators of GBVF, while women are at the receiving end.  Because the Black communities are the obvious platforms on which GBVF is rife, we need to be bold and call out Black men because they suffered together with their Black sisters all sorts of structural violence under settler-colonialism and apartheid.  
Black men and women were supposed to be allies in the fight for the return of their land, and against white supremacy.  Yet the Black man is always at the throat of his Black sister, instead of providing the necessary protection and defence.
One wonders if the government would be this lethargic if the GBVF pandemic was affecting white women to the extent it does to Black women.  The power dynamics seem to be at play here.  The powerless have their problems addressed by hypnotising conferences that act as nothing more than a palliative. 
In August, Minister of Police Bheki Cele released the Quarter One crime statistics from April to June 2022.  In that extremely narrow period, 855 women and 243 children were killed.  11 000 assault (with intent to do Grievous Bodily Harm) cases against female victims were opened.  1 670 of those cases involved children. 
Government seems to celebrate that there were 9 516 rape cases reported with 500 less compared to the same period last year.  However, it should worry government that liquor was involved in 1 212 rape cases.  What is hidden in these statistics is that the arena where most of these cases take place is the Black community.  Listen to Minister Cele shifting the responsibility in what is a policy and policing matter:
“We urge communities, civil society, religious organisations and various community organizations to look at addressing the role of liquor in communities and as a crime contributor”.
Despite the lack of appetite by government to effectively address the GBVF problem, the expectation at the minimum level is that they should focus on:
·        Addressing the poverty that Black people are still exposed to in 2022, by ensuring that all available resources are utilised to the benefit of the citizens.  Corruption busting would release more resources for this venture.
·        Strengthening the social services structures by ensuring that Counseling Services and Family Support Services are prioritised.
·        Improving the policing and investigation capacity of the State to deal with GBVF in a fast and effective manner, instead of organising countless expensive conferences.
·        Making properly trained prosecutors available to ensure that all reported cases are prosecuted.
·        Enacting proper laws that regulate the proceedings in GBVF and the sentencing of perpetrators.
There is no doubt that the solution does not lie with government alone.  In times like these, we need to remember Steve Biko’s call that “Black man you are on your own”.  That is a call for the Black community to activate the agency of the people in dealing with their own problems.  Those are the values of self-initiative and self-reliance.  Working with the police, the communities should set up their own structures like street and area committees.
What are about the Black man?  The first step is to develop a conscious Black man who knows what his responsibilities are towards the Black woman and those who are vulnerable in our society.  A man who has no consciousness has no soul.  He is likely to blame his emasculation by colonialism and landlessness on the Black sister.  He will not be helped by the patriarchal assumptions that he is the breadwinner or sole provider in his home.  Lack of wealth and income has so damaged his self-esteem that he finds solace in acts of self-hatred against himself and his community.  He is like a blunt weapon going around perpetrating all sorts of crimes against his own community, including those that he proclaims to love. 
It is therefore the duty of all the conscious Black men to spread the message to the unconscious ones so that we could form a network of protectors “against ourselves”.  GBVF is not perpetrated by an unknown monster from outside.  According to the Statistics South Africa report, “nearly 50% of GBV assaults are committed by someone close such as a friend or acquaintance (22%), spouse or intimate partner (15%), or a relative or household member (13%).  Only 29% are committed by a complete stranger”.
A comprehensive fight against GBVF requires that we do not turn a blind eye to the GBV suffered by men.  Matrix Men, a NPO that seeks to draw the attention of society to how the abuse of men and boys aggravates GBVF, tells us “44% of all boys in South Africa have suffered some form of abuse by age 18”.  Martin Pelders, the founder of the organisation, says that “around 5% of sexually abused become sexual abusers”.  He adds that “there are about 325 000 boys raped or sexually abused yearly in South Africa”.
The GBVF problem is massive and chronic.  The communities would not achieve much by completely outsourcing it to the government.  While the State resources are required, the communities should retain the leadership in fighting the scourge.