The Mapela Executive Committee in association with Phuhlisani NPC, the Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD), The Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC), the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and Corruption Watch hosted the first three day learning event in Mokopane from Wednesday 25th – Friday 27th May,
The event which is part of the Rural Organisation Support Programme supported by the Bertha Foundation was attended by activists from more than 14 villages in the Mapela area. All the learning materials prepared for the event are now publicly available online and can be accessed and downloaded via the following link
The three day programme included a mix of inputs, activities, screenings and village visits: Key content areas included:
- Background on the Rural organisation Support Programme in Mapela
- An overview of the more than 20 village profiles prepared to date and discussion of the burning issues prioritised by each village
- A focus of the access to information and an assessment of the Provision of Access to Information Act as a means to obtain information held by government departments and private companies
- An overview of the range of laws relevant to mining and land rights and their relationship with the Constitution
- A learning journey to two villages to examine issues on the ground
- A practical guide to the law for mining affected communities
- An examination of who is who with interests in mining in Mapela
- An overview of laws regulating rights to land and the functions and powers of traditional governance structures
- A focus on priority issues emerging from the research, the learning journey and the workshop activities to provide the focus for organisation and campaigns by the Mapela Executive Committee going forward.
The three days drew a diverse group of people together to tell stories, share experiences, learn and begin to strategise around ways to address key issues and long-standing problems impacting on the lives of residents in the Mapela area.
In addition to the deep contestation around mining, a central issue was the failure of the state to provide sustainable access to water. While some municipal infrastructure exists, for much of the time no water flows through the system. Many taps and pipelines are damaged. Pumping equipment no longer functions. The poorest of households are forced to buy water by the container, despite the constitutional guarantee of free basic services.
The first workshop has built on the village profiles recorded by local research facilitators. The combination of local knowledge and specialist input provided important information in a bid to:
- help strengthen and deepen local organisation
- identify different opportunities to begin to address local needs and problems
- make the voices of local residents heard to bring positive change.