Workshop for community activists

The attendees at the first of three workshops planned to teach the community about how local government works.

Steenberg Community Forum (SCF) launched its community learning and capacity building programme with the first of three training sessions which focused on local government, sub-councils, wards, ward committees and the community.

It was held at the First Steenberg Scouts hall, Steenberg, on Saturday July 16.

Peter Martin, chairperson of the SCF, and a SETA accredited trainer, facilitated the workshop which was attended by community activists, ward committee members, and leaders of community-based organisations, among others.

The workshop, he said, was held in line with the requirements of the Local Government Municipal Systems Act which states, that: “A municipality must … contribute to building the capacity of the local community to enable it to participate in the affairs of the municipality.”

Mr Martin said the feedback he received from the attendees had been positive. “The candidates found the training exciting and an eye-opener, and even suggested that this training be rolled out to the broader community to empower them. It was further suggested that more time be allowed for discussing what has been learned and how to apply the knowledge practically.”

Heathfield resident Craig Cerff, who is secretary of the Princess Vlei Forum and Sector 1 chairperson of Steenberg Community Police Forum as well as Ward 72 Security and Safety officer, said he learnt a lot because Mr Martin had “simplified how local government works”.

Mr Cerff said ward allocations were explained and he had learned “how our funds are being handled.” However, he added, the community was not always informed where the money was going.

Aaron Paul, a community activist from Retreat, said the workshop had helped him consider how to approach his work in the community.

“For years the battle for liberation has been fought on two fronts, for example the revolutionists and the academics or strategic thinkers. By attending this course which gives you a better understanding of the various rules and structures of South Africa political make-up. Now I can evaluate my options regarding the approach to follow given the various challenges we face daily in our community in a continuous struggle to empower the people.”

Grassy Park community activist Riedewaan Semaar, said the meeting had been beneficial to him and praised Mr Martin for mobilising and organising a productive initiative.

“I had my own understanding and I was shocked by the last 28 years on how we choose to understand things. I feel the local government should have led the way to explain how international development plans work. We are calling on the government to do more to educate and share knowledge so we can work together.”

Mr Martin said the dates for the next two sessions had not been confirmed yet. “The next programme focuses on participation and the constitutional and legislative framework for community participation.

If you would like to attend upcoming sessions, or for more information, contact Peter Martin at 084 697 8619.