The Men’s Parliament was launched and presented by the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Honorable Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu, in collaboration with the South African National AIDS Council, Takuwani Riime and Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM). The purpose of the assembly was to discuss approaches to behavioural change programmes of the Department of Social Development (DSD) that seek to promote positive outcomes critical to change the course of gender-based violence faced by all South Africans.
After Honorable Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu was warmly welcomed by the Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen, she later joined the men in Conville to officially launch the assembly, which will now be a quarterly sitting.
Attendees used the opportunity provided to them, to speak about the issues men are faced with on a daily basis and used the question “What is a man?” as a basis and kick-off point for all related discussions that followed.
These discussions included:
- the nature of the problem;
- validation of positive masculinity and the need for healing;
- promoting a healthy society;
- the call from women; and
- the responses of men – what must be done, economic development – how we are going to build the economy and personal commitment, mobilisation and accountability (from decision, to action, to results, demonstrating the results of our actions, as well as mentorship in raising responsive responsible boys.
During her keynote address, Ms Bogopane-Zulu praised the GRDM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, and Speaker, Cllr Barend Groenewald, as well as the local municipalities in the district for their eagerness to implement the programme. She said: “I know that more men will be included in future male-focused engagements. This is a long road, but if we continue to work together, the road will get shorter. We cannot achieve anything if we do not have your support”. Ms Bogopane-Zulu further referred to the recent tragic deaths of women in the district as a result of gender-based violence, specifically in the Mossel Bay area and said: “It is time that men take full responsibility and accountability, not only for their individual actions, but also for their collective actions”. She added: “Whenever these perpetrators go to court, only the faces of women are visible outside the courts“. She furthermore said: “I want to see men with posters in front of these courts, not only women. She encouraged men to stand firm and say ‘no, this one must not be allowed bail”. She further encouraged all attendees to use their voices with the hope to help Government to implement programmes that will assist men to improve their circumstances and behaviour, to make this country a better country for all.
Portfolio Councillor for Roads and Transport Planning Services at GRDM, Cllr Rowan Spies, spoke about how men must find a way to manage their egos and anger. He emphasised: “We as men have to find a way to deal with our egos and anger, in order to gain self-respect. Change only happens in the practice of discipline and forgiveness”. He concluded with the following words: “We are servants at various levels of society and we must all translate it into what we do on a daily basis. We have to deal with our egos and forgiveness,” he added.
The assembly was successfully chaired by the GRDM Speaker Barend Groenewald, who concluded the event with the following words: “Let us act, to correct, educate and let the perpetrators face the consequences of their own shameful and deliberate actions”.
It is envisaged that the programme will be implemented and extended to the local municipalities in the Garden Route from next year onwards, whereby men structures will be established by the DSD and GRDM, to ensure the progress of the Takuwani Riime project. ‘Takuwani Riime’ is a Venda expression meaning “let Us Stand Up Together”.
Resolutions taken at the event:
Motions with Notice
1. Motions on Definition of a man
A man is not simply defined by his physical make-up, A man is a man through his action(s) that reflect good morals, accountability and the affection he brings to his house and community. A man is provider and a protector, nurtured by his character.
2. Motions on health wellness and socio-economic hardships
We move for the adoption that men need to avail themselves to seek health advice timeously in order to detect and help prevent illnesses. Men need undergo introspection and seek psychosocial services in order to effect social behavioural change practices. Men need to undergo HIV, TB, Prostate Cancer and heart-related health check-ups and take a greater responsibility in looking after their health. Men need to work in conjunction with the government to examine the nature and structural drivers of unemployment for middle-aged men and develop a framework that will remedy unemployment.
3. Motions on gender-based Violence
We move for the adoption to work towards eradicating and preventing new cases of GBV, femicide, rape and abuse. We as Men of Garden Route bind and commit ourselves to say “No women and Child” should suffer or experience any form of violence in our district, we say “Not in Our Name”.
4. Motions on District Men’s Parliament
We move for the adoption to work towards strengthening the implementation of Takuwani Riime and looking at avenues to strengthen the relationship between the Garden Route District Men’s sector, District Municipality, local municipalities and the Department of Social Development. As men of the Garden Route District, we need to mobilize more men in communities, mobilize the business and capacitate existing men’s sector structure. We need to move towards institutionalizing our movement to be absorbed by our district and local municipality through finding synergies and other methods of cooperation. District Men’s Parliaments are to have quarterly sitting to monitor and evaluate implementation efforts, and to aid implementations of Boys Assemblies.