Phuhlisani turns 10

Reflecting on 10 years of work
Phuhlisani has been working as a land and rural development consultancy since 2004. On the 5th December we came together with our friends, associates and representatives of communities we have worked with to celebrate and reflect on ten years in the land sector.  While there is much to celebrate – a great team, a growing network of local and international associates and a solid record of research, training and practical work on the ground – we remain deeply concerned about the factors limiting the overall impact of our work. 
Of significant concern has been the number of times that government departments have commissioned research, strategies, plans and policy proposals which has been completed and signed off – often after processes that required significant investment of time by a wide range of public, private and civil society actors – only to later disappear without any evidence of follow through, or subsequent implementation by the state. These are indicators of deep-seated systemic weaknesses in the state. Likewise publicly funded research and evaluation studies often remain embargoed, and their findings excluded from the public domain. These examples remain a source of deep frustration and raise ethical questions concerning wasteful and fruitless expenditure.   To counter these trends we have chosen to work on local and applied assignments and undertake research that can be disseminated. 

Plans to establish an NPO
The gathering also heard that Phuhlisani is currently exploring the establishment of an NPO wing – an organisation to be known as SPADEWORK to promote social platforms for area development and enterprise and will support:
  • individuals and groups involved in smallholder agricultural production as a part of their livelihoods strategy whether in their homesteads, informally on state or private land, through access to municipal commonage or land through redistribution, restitution and tenure reform settings; 
  • farmworkers on and off commercial farms; 
  • the rural poor dependent on social grants and casual work resident in selected rural towns 
The three constituencies will form the base for the construction of local social platforms. Social platforms are designed to bring local actors together to consolidate what works and to identify and better understand local issues and problems through action research as a basis for the co-design of locally appropriate solutions.   
SPADEWORK’s focus will be on selected Districts and Local Municipalities, launching initially within the Western Cape. SPADEWORK aims to undertake the detailed, difficult and often invisible preliminary work required to prepare the ground for appropriate local development and social and economic enterprise.  

Tribute to Boyce Williams
The final part and the main focus of the proceedings was a tribute to Boyce Williams, one of the five Phuhlisani partners who has been forced into early retirement due to ill health. A wide range of speakers outlined the immense contribution that Boyce has made to the struggle for democracy and land reform in South Africa. His work in the unions, with the South African Council of Churches, as a field worker for the Surplus People Project and in Phuhlisani was highlighted by different speakers. Speaker after speaker acknowledged Boyce’s unique personal characteristics – his deep respect for those he worked with, his tolerance and humour, his ability to manage conflict and build relatioships, his multi-lingual fluency and finely tuned social process skills which have made him a well-known and respected figure up and down the country.  

Boyce Williams
Boyce Williams
Posted: 12/10/2014 (6:17:01 AM)

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