The struggles of community leaders in their attempts to access services and development opportunities, without sacrificing integrity, were raised at Accountability Lab’s first Accountabili’tea’ Conversation. Written by Siliziwe Mtwa
Hosted by Mbonleleli Gqirana, coordinator of the Community Action Network in Site C, Khayelitsha, the discussion was an opportunity for youth leaders, SMEs, nonprofit organisations and project organisers to discuss youth, development and accountability in the area.
“We collectively explored the notion of accountability and how we must also keep ourselves in check as youth leaders, bearing in mind that there are opportunities we would like to access, but we must do so ethically”, says Gqirana.
Vuyokazi Malafu of iKhaya eLitsha Hubs, a nonprofit that has a youth hub in Site C and is mainstreaming feminism among adolescent girls and young women, facilitated the conversation. It aims to generate debate around integrity and accountability amongst young people.
Seasoned activist, Noncedo Bulana, gave insight around the history of Site C and Khayelitsha, including how those dynamics influence the structure and agenda of development in the township. She also touched on the importance of youth having conversations to push the development agenda.
Panelist Abonga Ngxaka mentioned an instance where she was asked to provide sexual favors in return for getting a construction contract in Site C, highlighting the searing lack of integrity from those the community require services from. Participants, mostly women, spoke about how they are often in positions where they are expected to compromise their values and ethics in order to gain access to opportunities which will enable economic growth for them and their families. Panellists showed how these serious breaches in accountability and integrity were having a disproportionate effect on women.
The question of sustaining accountability in a township context, where information is scarce and avenues for recourse are inaccessible, was also raised. The room was divided between participants who believed that being part of local political formations was the easiest way of pushing the development agenda, and those who argued that non-partisan activism is more efficient.
The Accountabili’tea’ was followed by the launch of the Site C Community Action Network and Site C Youth Forum Covid-19 Support Program and Business Delivery Service. They received a donation of 10 bicycles for use by local entrepreneurs for delivery services and to assist the elderly and those recovering from COVID-19. The bicycles were donated by Khaltsha Cycles.
The discussion was a space to share, learn and highlight the ways in which the youth of Site C are moving forward and innovating.