African Monitor (AM) will be part of this year’s World Economic Forum taking place this week from 4 till 6 September. AM, represented by Executive Director Ms Namhla Mniki, will lead discussions on Innovating for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many of Africa’s leaders at WEF will be grappling with Africa’s current opportunities and the 4th Industrial Revolution.

But how can we discuss ease of doing business in a nation that is in turmoil? How can we talk about Artificial Intelligence and drone economies (spending billions on research and testing), but can’t put resources aside to help the women of South Africa to be safe? Shouldn’t the women of this country be our priority?

It cannot be business as usual.

This is what AM’s Executive Director, Ms Namhla Mniki had to say:

The preparation for my contribution at the World Economic Forum where I was meant to be presenting on SDG innovations in Africa has came to a halt since this recent spate of attacks on women.  I am putting my wait behind the  #AmINext campaign.  I will be raising these key issues in all my input and will coordinate efforts to get a deal from business and government to make our public service delivery points safe.

To the Honorable Klaus Schwab, His Excellency the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, to drone companies, big data companies, companies at the cutting edge of AI and digital monitoring systems – we want to say, figure out how your technology can get the women of South Africa safe or get out of our country.

And to our government, secure a deal to make all government service points safe by Friday at the end of WEF. You keep us safe, we will grow the economy.

When asked in the news, what it means when government service points like the Post Office and schools are no longer safe or government officials are perpetrators of gender based violence, Deputy Minister in the Presidency talked about the work that they are doing to educate women to be vigilant and training female police officers to sensitize them about being responsive.

But, Minister, how does this response have anything to do with women and children being attacked at government service points?

Well, here is what would have been a better answer from the Minister as someone who is committed to change:

“We are horrified to think that women are not safe in the places they should be getting help and services from.

As a minister responsible for the protection of women and children In South Africa, I will be putting an immediate call through to our President to screen every public service employee. If public servants are paid by tax from citizens, they should be beyond reproach.

If any of them is found to be having a pending case or have been found guilty of any crime against women and children, they cannot serve in their position. Offenders of any kind cannot serve our communities as government employees.”

We think ways should be found to make these spaces safe for the most vulnerable in our society. We need cameras at service points. We need security. Whatever it takes, we need to figure it out and fix this problem urgently.

We, at AM are deeply saddened by and concerned about the never-ending stream of reports of gruesome acts of violence being committed against women and children daily in South Africa. Action is needed now!


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