The conveners of the first Conference for the Future of South Africa have declared the event “an overwhelming success”, saying it marks a defining moment in the country’s history of struggle against injustice.
More than 600 delegates from 130 civil society organisations across South Africa attended the conference, and agreed on a common action plan to recapture the state and “put it back in the hands of the people”.
The conference was hosted by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Save South Africa campaign, in conjunction with a range of supporting organisations.
Among those who attended were ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza, former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, SAFTU leader Zwelinzima Vavi, Fedusa leader Dennis George, and Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale.
Organisations represented include the SA Women’s Collective, Section27, Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, #UnitedBehind, Casac, Johannesburg Against Injustice, Right to Know, a number of faith-based organisations, Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Stalwarts and Veterans.
“I think this is a record … I don’t remember this number of civil society organisations coming together in one place,” ANC stalwart Reverend Frank Chikane told the conference. “This is a great day for South Africa – it promises us a great future.”
Convener Mandla Nkomfe said the conference had redefined the role of civil society: “This event saw a reemergence of civil society uniting behind specific objectives – particularly in terms of fighting state capture, restoring democracy and building state integrity.”
Conference delegates developed a two-stage action plan to begin the coordinated push against state capture, with the first phase focused on protests around the parliamentary vote of no confidence on 8 August, and the second focused on a broader set of initiatives – called an “integrity six pack” — to begin to restore credibility in state institutions.
“In the longer term, we will begin looking at building and unifying civic voices leading up to the 2019 election, to imprint the people’s wishes on the country’s body politic,” said Nkomfe.
Among the actions envisaged for the vote of no confidence are a national day of prayer against state capture, as well as nationwide action leading up to 8 August calling on all MPs to publicly state how they will be voting.
The draft resolutions and a declaration of common purpose will be distributed to participating organisations over the next few days and consolidated into a formal plan of action.