Why I felt it was important fro THO to attend the COSATU/ Civil Society Initiative

Over 50 civil society organisations including the Traditional Healers Organisation (THO), converged at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg, to discuss the role of civil society in socio-economic programmes delivery. For a long time healers have been complaining about lack of service delivery in communities where they and their patients live but no Councillor would bother to listen. "For us healers, this initiative is coming at the right time just before 2011 elections, a time in history where every Councillor will be rushing to us to canvass for elections and this is the right time to make them sign contracts for making land available to communities for food security. 

How do they promise us vegetable farming when they know they do not control land?. This time we need to hold more seminars and meetings in all our branches as THO and tell members not to vote until government has put in place a practical programme to benefit communities and ourselves as practitioners of tradiitonal medicine. Thokozani asivoteni ngamehlo avulekile! "This newly formed partnership should not fail us but instead it should be a platform  we use to end years of corruption, slavery, discrimination by politicians we helped to be in power" Sthembiso Nene says. 

 We need more healers and their patients to have opportunities to be employed and skilled by a government which will not only think for themselves but the people. We have a responsibility as Healer leaders to bring about meaningful change otherwise we will go down memory lane as failures in this industry. 

I hope to persuade a number of colleagues in other provinces to vote in support of a partnership with COSATU. Whilst at Birchwood i was inspired by the rich discussions in the workshops such that i then started calling my colleagues in provinces telling them to identify community leaders in their areas that are principled and interested in people's development who we could elect as future councillors not liars and people who are greedy for only positions. We now need to open our eyes Makhehla otherwise we will continue to be a play ground of playful individuals. 

 What saddens me is that we elect people today who come to us to campaign for parliamentary positions and give them a shopping list of what we want to see happen in our profession, they promise and immediately they are away from us they throw away the list and close doors at us. Many notable leaders use our services when troubled by problems of the world but immediately they are comfortable and our umuthi works well for them they just forget about how much we worked hard on them to be where they are! They now feel ashamed to be seen with us, let alone participate in any of our meetings. This time we will show them the power of a black, poor umeLaphi. Ke Nako!!!

As a delegate who attended the conference which started in October 27 -28, I walked away feeling really empowered and supported by both speakers and contributors from the floor. I have already mapped out my plan of action and the first thing to start with is by calling a big district and provincial meetings for all leaders to receive feedback and incorporate the discussions into local meeting debates. We will also take the declaration to them and indicate to them that as indigenous peoples of the country we participated and emphasized that there were more issues to look at beyond just positions of power.  The Declaration came out clear on what needs to be done to stop corruption, unemployment and poverty and our role thereof. My commission looked at freedoms and what we need to do to continue the fight for a better life and justice for all including the right to practice traditional, indigenous culture without fear of intimidation whether at the workplace or anywhere else and the freedom to choice of treatment which no one has ever a right to take away. 

I am proud for having worked hard in this two days to put my sector right on top of civil society map and ensuring that we inform fellow colleagues who were part of my commission on the challenges experience by healers in the different communities and how much we worked hard to promote the ANC which later looks down upon us and choose to work with their friend and create havoc in the profession. Most ANC leaders still believe in the DIVIDE AND RULE mentality of apartheid! We may not totally agree with each other as associations but the one important think we all agreed on is the importance of life, freedom and respect for communities. we have agreed that such a respect can only be demonstrated through practical forms such as creating job opportunities, ending corruption, fight against discrimination and at all cost Stand up against POVERTY. 

I trust that the declaration arrived at today will make a difference to the majority of healers in this profession and their patients which is about 72% of the general public. With this brief feedback i trust that like me you will understand why i am excited to tell you my great story of re-writting history. With these words i invite all of you to pray with us for strength and correct guidance to give you the best and continue to defend the profession. Makhosi,, Thokoza!

Sthembiso Nene, KZN

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