The Right2Know Campaign held its seventh National Summit in Salt River, Cape Town, from 17 -18 March 2017 . The Summit constituted of 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 .
Delegates considered the 2016 Organisational Report and assessed the progress made since the 6th National Summit in February 2016 as well as the challenges and opportunities facing the campaign in the coming year.
Delegates accepted the 2016 Audited Financial Statements and 2017 Budget. They also heard Mhlobo Gunguluzi’s appeal against the outcome of his Disciplinary Procedure and voted to set aside the sanctions imposed by the Disciplinary Committee.
Delegates then developed and adopted the following resolutions and elected a 2015/16 National Working Group.
2.1.1 Secrecy & Surveillance:
- Campaign against abusive surveillance laws, including demanding an end to mass surveillance, urgent reforms to RICA, and scrapping the registration of SIM cards
- Campaign for private companies such as MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom to desist from aiding surveillance.
- Organise popular education on the threats of surveillance and equip activists to defend themselves
- Produce simple pamphlets that explain how surveillance works and how to detect it
- Collect and publish stories of surveillance and harassment by intelligence structures
- Hold the surveillance watchdogs accountable, including the Inspector General of Intelligence and Information Regulator, and demanding that the IGI investigate complaints of surveillance.
- Provide solidarity and support to students and workers on university campuses to resist surveillance, both by the state and private security
- Campaign against state surveillance of protesters, including demanding the release of footage of R2K held by SAPS
2.1.2 Right to Protest:
On the Regulation of Gatherings Act:
- Expand our popular education on the RGA with various stakeholders;
- Undertake research on abuse of the RGA and municipal bylaws to restrict the right to protest;
- Undertake research on amendments to the legislative framework, including the RGA and municipal bylaws.
- Engage targeted metropolitan/municipal structures on their restriction on the right to protest, and where appropriate to challenge current municipal practices.
- Continue to support the legal challenges to the RGA.
Beyond the Regulation of Gatherings Act:
- Undertake further research and producing popular education materials on other limitations to the right to protest – especially protests on private property and in labour protests and the use of wrongful arrest as a means of criminalizing and suppressing protests.
- Produce an expanded Right to Protest handbook to include the results of the new research.
- Continue to challenge the dominant narratives in the media that cast protests as violent and seek to undermine the right of protest.
On the Protest hotline:
- Continue to support and strengthen the Protest Hotline hosted by CALS.
- Capacitate a core group of activists in provinces to coordinate a rapid response team to assist activists facing threats of arrests and in need of legal assistance (e.g. bail hearings, section 4 meetings other legal assistance) and humanitarian assistance;
- Expand the network of legal assistance in each province where R2K has a presence as a way of expanding the capacity of the Protest hotline.
- Recommend to the Protest Hotline to look at ways of extending its scope beyond urban nodes and in provinces beyond Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and Western Cape – and to supporting activists wrongfully arrested.
- Develop protest observer/ monitoring capacity in the provinces (and nationally) to report on and document abuses of the right to protests.
- Explore, challenge and campaign against the use of excessively high bail amounts used to limit protest, criminalise legitimate expression and that is disproportionate to other (real) crimes.
On violence in protest:
We recognize that:
- Our society is built on violence and ‘violence’ as a phenomenon in protests is often a tactic of last resort when institutions are not responsive to people’s needs;
- The media often advances an agenda that uses isolated violence to delegitimize and even criminalize protest.
- R2K is committed to defending, practicing, and advancing the right to disruptive protest – including civil disobedience.
- R2K will not resort to violence as a tactic.
- We respect the autonomy of other organizations to determine their own tactics.
- R2K should consider whether ‘violence’ is limited to harm of humans or extends to damage to property.
2.1.3 Access to Information:
On Public Participation:
- Rooting our work in public participation, we will campaign for open meetings and open processes, at all levels of government and extend focus on local ward committees, local tender processes and budget processes, IDP processes and imbizos.
- Continue to capacitate activists to use a diverse range of access to information tools, ensuring that these tools assist to build strong links to local struggles.
- Work with organisations working to access land to submit information requests to the government to disclose land ownership information to campaign for a full land audit.
On Corporate Secrecy:
- Focus on combating corporate secrecy, including tax dodging, illicit financial flows and corporate corruption, linking these issues to local secrecy.
- In partnership with MVC we will campaign to disclose on private political party funding, including campaigning for policy change.
- Working with partner organizations, we will continue to campaign to stop the secret R1 trillion Nuclear Deal.
- We will support the campaign for the release of all apartheid secret records.
- We will continue to campaign for the findings of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the Arms Deal to be set aside.
- Working with Black Sash and other allies, we will continue to build the Hands Off Our Grants Campaign nationally, demanding that SASSA insource all payments, with no deductions and no delays and ensure people’s privacy and personal information is protected.
2.1.4 Right to Communicate:
On Internet Freedom:
- Continue to campaign for a free and open Internet, fighting any attempt to censor free expression online, including internet shutdowns;
- Reaffirm our commitment to oppose regulatory and/or legislative attempts to censor the Internet, including the Film and Publication Board Amendment Bill, the Cybercrimes Bill and State Security Agency monitoring of online content.
On Access to Telecommunications:
- Reinvigorate the Vula’ma Connexion Campaign, to fight the high cost of data and airtime, and undertake more popular education on #DataMustFall
- In order to drive Vula’ma Connexion strategically (including formulating details and specific demands), we must engage more meaningfully with a number of our partner organisations and campaign members who possess a good collective knowledge on telecommunications;
- Campaign for and promote community-owned telecommunications (the Zenzeleni model) as a way for poor and rural communities to realise their communications rights;
- Campaign for the roll out of free broadband services, especially free Wifi, to poor and rural areas.
On Media Freedom:
- Recognizing the importance of access to public broadcasting to the right to know, we resolve to continue with advocacy around SABC governance crisis and related issues, and demand editorial independence, transparency in management and content that meets the needs of people
- We will oppose the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, the powers which it gives to the Minister, and the way in which it diminishesthe oversight role of Parliament;
- Campaign against the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill (the Censorship Bill): while committed to fighting racism, misogyny, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of prejudice speech, we nevertheless call for the hate speech provisions to be scrapped as an unnecessary threat to free political speech and media freedom.
- We call for Parliamentary TV to be accessible on a free-to-air channel now.
On Digital TV:
- We will campaign to expose the corruption and secrecy in various aspects of digital migration and digital terrestrial television, and will demand that all such cases be investigated and made public, including the Treasury probe.
- We will demand that digital TV deliver its promise of media diversity, not increased commercialisation and corporatisation.
On Community Media:
- Capacitating our own activists to perform popular education at a community level on the rights of communities to have ownership over local community media radio stations;
- We will engage with the ICASA broadcasting regulation review to promote community media that is independent, sustainable and representative of community interests.
2.2 Building the Right2Know
2.2.1 Campaign Structures, Relations, Internal Democracy:
We declare 2017 the year of walking the talk!
- Encourage provincial activists to identify popular education and mobilization needs for local communities on R2K issues
- Strengthen community mobilization by supporting activists to forward local struggles especially through access to information.
- Activists involved in local community struggles must report to provincial structures on a monthly basis
- Continue to work in solidarity with related civil society organisations towards our communal vision and missions.
We reaffirm that:
- We are a democratic organization;
- We work at a community level to advance the right to know and support local struggles and we work at city/provincial/national levels to challenge law/policy and raise public awareness.
- We value contributions of a wide range of capacities, including local community activists and activists working on national policy issues;
- We are activist led and the role of staff is to support activism and to be accountable to activists.
- National issues must be discussed in Provinces and Provincial issues discussed by the NWG. Provincial Coordinators must play a key role in linking the NWG and PWG.
- We do not work with Political Parties;
2.2.2 Rooting R2K in Local Struggles:
Emphasising the values of public participation and the free flow of information:
- Expand the reach of the R2K progressively and proactively within the metropolitan (urban) areas and rural areas;
- Strengthen our presence at sites of protests and struggles to demonstrate our support for partner organisations around common purpose
- Continue to develop leadership and skills of R2K activists
- Annually consolidate and maintain a database of support organisations, local struggles and individuals to document their respective struggles, areas of experience and expertise and their constituencies
- Undertake ongoing reflection and learning on different approaches to organising, including how we enter communities and how we sustain our engagement.
- Prioritise fewer relationships and ensure deeper and more sustained and proactive support.
- Ensure that we do not ‘substitute for’ or ‘take over’ local struggles.
- Prioritise R2K mobilisation on R2K issues that impact directly on communities
- Ensure that R2K balances support for local struggles without losing focus on R2K’s own campaigns.
- Support provinces to identify two key local campaigns to support in a sustainable way.
- Each province should aim to increase the allocation of its resources to supporting local struggles. This must be reflected in monthly budgets & reports.
2.2.3 Combating Patriarchy:
- Develop a popular education tool kit to deepen our understanding of patriarchy within R2K including aspects of womxn’s experience, the LGBTI experience, power dynamics, and gender oppression
- Bring a combating patriarchy lens to focus areas of the R2K campaign and develop partnerships and tools to do so.
- Work on extending the activist code of conduct to include principles for creating inclusive spaces and getting buy-in from comrades to do so.
- Integrating feminism within R2K by telling more stories of female and feminist activists, enable feminism in focus groups, and have a leadership programmes for womxn only, to build confidence and empower female activism.
2.3.4 National Solidarity Network (Outreach):
- Reaffirm our principle of struggle before structures
- Visit and keep working with all organizations that have signed MOU and also continue to mobilize new Communities.
- Prioritise areas where struggles are already taking place, with an emphasis on protest
- Continue working on building partnerships with Outreach Communities
- A comprehensive outreach strategy must be adopted at the second NWG meeting, with consultation of the provinces.
2.3.5 Media, communication and popular education:
- Spread our messages and information by going back to basics, including door to door and community meetings.
- Encourage community members to write press statements relating to actions in their own communities and the links to R2K focuses.
- Popularise community stories so that community struggles become more visible.
- Actively engage youth, including learners and students.
- Actively engage community media to tell the stories of the successes and lessons of community actions.
- Undertake induction for all new members of R2K and engage in information sharing and understanding practices amongst our activists.
- Undertake R2K Leadership Development based on local needs.
- Insure each Province will create spaces for political discussion on a regular basis, including discussions around our internal political nature, such as the walk the talk workshop
- Focus on material that is accessible and can enable local struggles – this should include translations.
2.3.6 Finance & Staffing:
Noting that R2K’s Human Resource & Finance systems are well developed and strong and reaffirming our commitment to fair labour practices:
- Administrators must have skills to administer and account for funds.
- PWGs and provincial staff must develop the capacity to engage monthly financial reports.
- Mandate the NWG’s Fin Team to explore the possibility of reducing salaries.
- PWGs and Provincial Co-ordinators should workshop staff conditions of employment and staff job descriptions to develop greater management capacity.
- Support the appointment of an Operations Coordinator to give greater support to provincial administrators and Provincial Coordinators.
- Explore establishing an ‘activist solidarity fund’, to be discussed at the NWG’s first meeting.
- Provinces should continue to discuss questions of expanding staffing and paying activists – and feedback to the NWG within 2 months, and study and learn from other organisations that have paid activists.