The Right2Know Campaign held our third National Summit in Durban from 15-17 March 2013. Delegates assessed the progress made since the second National Summit (held in Johannesburg in March 2012) and the challenges and opportunities facing the campaign in the coming year, before electing our 2013/14 leadership and adopting a set of resolutions to guide the Campaign.
Download the full 2013 R2K National Summit report here.
R2K’s 3rd Annual National Summit
15-17 March 2013, St Philemona, Durban
The Right2Know Campaign held its third National Summit in Sydnam, Durban, from 15-17 March 2013. The Summit was constituted by delegates elected at Provincial Summits in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape, as well as members of the outgoing National Working Group and a number of observers from supporting organisations (see participants listed in APPENDIX 1).
Delegates assessed the progress made since the second National Summit (in March 2012) and the challenges and opportunities facing the campaign in the coming year (see Organisational Report in APPENDIX 2).
Delegates then developed and adopted the following resolutions and elected a 2013/14 National Working Group.
The Summit programme is included as APPENDIX 3.
2. R2K National Summit Resolutions 2013
Reaffirming all decisions taken at previous National Summits, the Campaign made the following resolutions.
2.1 Resolution on Access to Information
- The existing provisions for access to information (such as PAIA) are not enough to ensure that information is provided readily, in a format that is useful and that can be used strategically for our struggles;
- Community struggles for fair process and full participation will continue to be a vital means of ensuring the right to know, for which the Campaign has proved to be an effective tool for support;
- Recent ‘open data’ initiatives have provided a new opportunity to access and share information on a wide scale.
Strengthen our coordinating in this sector, by
- Establishing an Access to Information Working Group within the Campaign.
Deepen our community solidarity work, by:
- Giving solidarity to the struggles of our partners, members and allies in their efforts to gain free information, full participation and fair process.
Politicise the Promotion of Access to Information Act, by:
- Continuing to link legal requests for information with popular protest and mobilisation;
- Developing a standardised R2K access-to-information workshop, to be rolled-out provincially;
- Using popular education tools and materials to increase the number of PAIA requests made by R2K’s constituent organisations and communities;
- Centralising PAIA requests into a national database;
- Issuing regular R2K statements on access to information at a national and provincial level;
- Demanding better access to information, in terms of language and format;
- Contextualising our popular education in the framework of Constitutional rights;
- Focusing on the appointment of an “Information Regulator” (as per new legislation) to ensure that the commission will be led with independence and integrity.
Support proactive release of information and open data, by:
- Embracing the shift from requesting single records to advocating for the proactive release of whole datasets that can be used by residents of an entire area, constituency or community.
2.2 Resolution on Stopping Secrecy
- Our Campaign has successfully shifted from a limited focus on the Secrecy Bill to a comprehensive focus on the growing culture of secrecy in our society;
- There is a need to further build R2K’s ‘common message’ on secrecy;
- The Campaign has recommitted to challenge all secrets that seek to disempower the majority and secure the power of the minority, targeting four key areas in the next year.
Fight the Secrecy Bill, by:
- Pursuing all available avenues to challenging the Secrecy Bill, both through activism and law;
- Continuing to engage in popular mobilisation and grassroots education around secrecy, and in particular in the process around the legal challenge. Our aim is to ensure that all activists in the campaign are fully informed and help to shape the ongoing legal challenges.
- Organising rolling provincial and national protests every month as Parliament finalises the Bill, culminating in a mass, countrywide event in June, to coincide with National Youth month;
- Reaffirming the following resolutions taken by the National Working Group, in the event that our demands are not met:
▪ R2K will take legal action against the state, including the Minister of State Security, the State Security Agency, and any other relevant respondents in relation to the constitutionality of the Protection of State Information Bill;
▪ The R2K appoints as its attorneys the Legal Resources Centre, with due power and authority to act on behalf of R2K in relation to the legal action against the Protection of State Information Bill;
- In addition, we resolve that the NWG is authorised to take such steps as are necessary to pursue all available legal options. These steps must be undertaken mindful of our constitution as a non-partisan campaign.
Fight the Spy Bill (the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill), by:
- Continuing to monitor the parliamentary processes around the Bill, which is likely to be finalised in 2013. This will include providing detailed analysis of the Bill;
- Using opportunities for popular mobilisation and grassroots education around secrecy issues to raise awareness around the content and possible impact of the Spy Bill.
Challenge the National Key Points Act, by:
- Pursuing legal means such as PAIA to obtain the full list of Key Points demarcated by government (and to do so regularly);
- Considering a set of protests outside suspected National Key Points. This will include a possible day of coordinated national protests/pickets outside suspected National Key Points, organised by R2K constituent organisations;
Defend the Right to Protest, by:
- Recognising the right to protest as central to our democratic rights and the work of the campaign;
- Working towards ensuring that all activists have the democratic right to protest, informing activists of their rights, and challenging unfair denial to protest and the requirement to pay fees for protest;
- Distributing R2K’s ‘Right to Protest’ booklet widely through community workshops;
- Supporting civil society initiatives to establish a legal defence working group, which will empower activists to know their rights and defend them in confrontation with public and private security.
2.3 Resolution on the Right to Communicate
- The means to receive, impart and share information is crucial to the right to know, by ensuring that information flows across society, deepening our democracy and advancing social, economic, and ecological justice;
- The majority of South Africans exercise their right to communicate via their phones, through calls, messaging, and internet access services. Yet, super profiteering from cell phone companies has vastly inflated the costs of these services, undermining our ability to communicate, inform ourselves, express ourselves, and organise our constituencies;
- In mass media – print, radio and television – highly concentrated ownership and anti-competitive behaviour from industry giants has undermined media diversity and weakened the information landscape;
- In the public broadcasting and community media sectors, underfunding and political mismanagement has lead to deep instability. In particular, efforts to turn community media organisations into the mouth piece of local government has marginalised community voices and undermined the principle of democratic ownership and control of these organisations;
- The digitisation of television (digital migration) presents a huge opportunity to ‘democratise the airwaves’; however, a lack of consultation and transparency around this process, as well as the potential costs to consumers, risks excluding vast numbers of the most marginal members of society;
- These factors are made worse by the lack of independent oversight and regulation provided by ICASA, which faces the constant risk of corporate and political capture;
- The threat of a Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) still hangs over the print media industry.
While there are many important policy processes unfolding that relate to the free flow of information through media and media technology, we resolved to focus on interventions that give the greatest opportunity to mobilise and build our base.
Fight for the Right to Call, by:
- Targeting cell phone operators to reveal their secret pricing structures, and demand that prices be cut;
- Engaging in a mass mobilisation and popular education campaign, leading to a national day of action;
- Highlighting and popularising the need to fight off political and corporate interference in ICASA, the communications regulator that is meant to ensure that the public’s interests are being served.
Democratise Community media, by:
Raising awareness in communities on their rights with regard to ownership and access to community media organisations – using workshops, pamphlets, and other tools of popular education.
Ensure that digital television serves the people, by:
- Mobilising our base in the event of any sections of the public being excluded from the process, either through lack of full public engagement or through high costs and possible loopholes in the proposed subsidy system;
- Creating pamphlets and popular education to inform the public of the process and highlight key issues from the R2K perspective;
- Demanding more information on the planned subsidies for poor consumers, on the principle that nobody should be excluded from accessing television on the basis of cost;
- Ensuring that digital television is used to its full democratising potential through adequate provision of public-service content.
Fight for quality public broadcasting, by:
- Supporting civil society efforts to ensure that the SABC has a broad, fully participatory and inclusive public consultation process on the quality and nature of its content.
Defend independent, critical journalism against the proposed MAT, by
- Preparing to oppose and mobilise against a Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) or similar measure to control critical journalism.
2.4 Resolution on Whistleblowing
- Whistleblowers today face a crisis of intimidation, harassment, job loss, and even death threats;
- The legal framework for whistleblowers does not provide adequate support or protection to allow individuals to blow the whistle;
- There is extremely limited legal support available to whistleblowers, and organisations working in this area are forced to take up cases on a very selective basis.
Provide solidarity to whistleblowers, by:
- Using the R2K whistleblower calendar to issue monthly statements in support of whistleblowers;
- Referring existing whistleblowers to the appropriate structures;
- Conducting internal training and capacity-building on whistleblower support and protection;
- Where appropriate, to use mass media and popular education to bring attention to the plight of individual whistleblowers;
- Convening a whistleblower conference among our members and within the sector, to investigate practical support mechanisms;
- Investigating practical solidarity actions that can be taken by R2K and constituent organisations.
Advocate for amendments to the existing whistleblower law, by:
- Targeting structures with a responsibility to protect whistleblowers (such as the National Prosecuting Authority and Public Protector) to advocate for amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act in Parliament.
2.5 Resolution on Building the Right2Know
Consolidate and improve R2K’s Structures:
- The three existing functional PWGs should become regional nodes that support local and regional activists in surrounding provinces, until such time as new PWGs can be sustainably established;
- PWG should support local activists to implement local events and campaigns within their community and regionally. A function of the PWG is to enable such activists;
- Though members of the NWG are not provincial representatives (each member must serve the interests of all provincial structures), where a provincial structure is not represented on the NWG, the NWG should co-opt a representative nominated from that PWG;
- Each PWG should have a coordinator and a treasurer who will work together with the employee/organiser to oversee the programme in the province between meetings;
- NWG members must be active in PWG meetings;
- NWG meetings must include a report from each PWG, and PWG meetings must include report from the NWG;
- The summit established two working groups to develop R2K’s approach to the Traditional Courts Bill and political party funding.
- In electing a new National Working Group, the Summit resolved that the 2013 Summit could nominate any supporter of the campaign irrespective of whether they were a member (i.e. Summit Delegate) or present at the Summit in another capacity (guests and observers, as well as absent delegates). In preparation for the 2014 Summit, this position must be discussed within the Campaign and a constitutional amendment prepared that clarifies our approach to this matter in the future. The Summit mandated a Constitutional Amendment Team to prepare draft amendments to make it explicit that the National Summit is the highest decision-making body of the Campaign and should adopt a set of resolutions that will mandate the elected national working group.
Continue and intensify mobilisation:
- Emphasis should be placed on broad-based community mobilisation in rural regions;
- Basic literature, multi-media and campaign information should be compiled into a ‘starter pack’ that could be widely distributed by PWGs to community organisers;
- Activist networks should be retained and developed;
- New forms of engagement such as flash mobs and street art should be explored.
- A database of supporter details and activists should be kept both provincially and national. This is in response to the need to maintain contact with all those who have shown interest in the Campaign;
- PWGs should seek to hold regular public meetings with supporters;
- A national newsletter should be published periodically to update supporters on R2K activity, and PWGs should produce material regularly for this newsletter;
- R2K’s statements should be sent out to mailing lists, posted on the website and social media platforms, and hard copies provided at PWGs to those without internet access where necessary;
- Campaign materials should be translated as widely as possible with assistance from multilingual activists in each provincial structure;
- Success stories from PWGs should be documented and shared nationally;
- R2K must undertake the development and build the capacity of its activists to speak, engage and answer questions on core R2K issues.
3. Election of 2013/14 National Working Group
The following people where elected to serve on the National Working group (NWG) for 2013/14:
- Alison Tilley
- Carina Conradie
- Dale T. McKinley
- Jane Duncan
- Hennie Van Vuuren
- Meshack Mbangula
- Murray Hunter
- Nosipho Mngoma
- Nomvula Sikakane
- Thembani Onceya
- Vinayak Bhardwaj
The following people where elected as alternates to be co-opted (in the following order) should elected members withdraw from the NWG:
- Adam Nord
- Pupa Fumba
- Mhlobo Gunguluzi
- Phenyo Butile
- Ashley Louw
Download the full 2013 R2K National Summit report here.