Our first Men’s Sector newsletter reported on two progressive Men’s Sector districts in South Africa – Sekhukhune, in Limpopo province, and OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape. Recently OR Tambo district hosted Eastern Cape Men’s Prayer Event which was attended by 400 men from all over the province. Limpopo held an historic Men’s Imbizo as a part of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence in partnership with the Department of Health in the province.
Free State and Eastern Cape
Since the publication of the last newsletter, the Men’s Sector in the Free State and Eastern Cape established a new leadership team in a democratic election. These bodies assist to improve the work done by organizations such as South Africa Men’s Action Group (SAMAG) in the Free State, and Promotion of Rural Livelihoods (Ruliv) in the Eastern Cape.
In the Free State, Mphahlolle Men’s Health, under the direction of Mr. Pule Mokoena, has taken over the leadership of the Men’s Sector. The organization has also pledged to help establish a Men’s Sector secretariat in the province. The newly elected chairperson of the Men’s Sector in the Eastern Cape, Rev Lulama Ntshingwa, is in talks with Ruliv on who will take over the Men’s Sector Secretariat in that province.
According to Northern Cape Men’s Sector leadership, the sector is still in its infancy. The sector is situated in the Frances Baard District, with only ad hoc activities in other districts. However, the ball is rolling; the leadership of the Northern Cape recently reported during the Brothers for Life refresher trainings in Kimberley that the National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS (NAPWA) and Legatus are assisting with the implementation of the Men’s Sector Programme in the Northern Cape.
In the Western Cape things are progressing smoothly at programmes level due to the engagement and consultation of civil society on Medical Male Circumcision (MMC). The Western Cape Department of Health (DOH) and various civil society organisations from various SANAC sectors met to discuss the issue. The consultation addressed the current state of MMC in South Africa, including the state of national and provincial MMC policy and clinical guidelines, national and provincial plans of MMC roll-out and awareness-raising programmes.
The participants of the meeting concluded that there was a need for civil society to work hand in hand with the DOH and be involved in the MMC programmes, and therefore recommended the speedy finalisation of a national and provincial MMC policy as well as implementation guidelines. The need for real cohesion between the DOH and the civil society stakeholders at both national and provincial levels was highlighted as a key factor in strengthening the ties, maintaining meaningful communication and thus ensuring effective implementation of the campaign and roll-out. It was also decided that a task team would be set up to coordinate and monitor the progress of MMC processes based on the recommendations of the meeting. A task team of seven members was established and terms of reference were put in place.
In an historic move, the Western Cape has formally founded the Western Cape AIDS Council, and one of the duties of the Men’s Sector task team is to meet and work together with the leadership of the council.
North West, KZN and Mpumalanga
The Men’s Sectors in North West, KZN and Mpumalanga are working hard to rally organizations working with men in their provinces. Recently Brothers for Life refresher trainings played a huge role in activating work in the three provinces, and in the next few months the sector’s leadership will be focusing on strengthening their involvement. Mpumalanga has established a very strong task team with the help of the Department of Health and SAPS; the team’s purpose is to make sure that activities are taking place whiles the sector is still under construction.
Lastly, credit must go to the Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development for hosting the provincial Men’s Workshop with the aim of engaging organizations working with men in the province on the NSP development process. The Department of Health and Social Development promised to collaborate with organizations working with men, and that the Gauteng Provincial Men’s Sector full structure will be established at the Gauteng Provincial Summit.