Statement of Objection
OCTOBER 2019, By the Children of CPC in partnership with Molo Songololo
This is a joint statement of objection by the Molo Songololo Children’s Forum members who gathered on Saturday 19 October 2019 at Welwirschia Primary School in Delft. We consist of children from different schools, communities and backgrounds in the Western Cape. We are girls and boys from the age of 12 to 17 years of age.
Regarding nominations of persons to be appointed as the Western Cape Commissioner for children
We took part in the Children’s Consultation on the Western Cape Commissioner for Children Act held on 20 July 2019 at the Delft Technical School in Delft with 200 children.
A few of us have been involved in the Molo Songololo Children’s Forum Advocacy Groups for a while and are now 18-years and older. In the advocacy groups we learn about the rights of children and the rights of children to participate in decision-making processes.
These rights include the;
• right to be informed,
• right to be consulted,
• right to express our views and opinions
• right to be taken seriously and our views to be respected, considered and included
Some of us took part in the Round Table Discussions held in 2013, 2015 and 2017 on the need for an Ombudsperson for Children Accountability for Children in South Africa. We also took part in workshops, made written and oral submissions on the proposed amendments to the Western Cape Constitution concerning the Western Cape Commissioner for Children; and made a submission on the Western Cape Commissioner for Children’s Bill, which has now become law.
We are very pleased that the Western Cape Commissioner for Children Act is now in place and that the process to appoint the Western Cape Commissioner for Children is on way. We note that there was a call for nominations and that 59 persons were nominated or applied for the position of Western Cape Commissioner for Children.
We have been informed by Molo Songololo that there is a call for the public to make objections to persons nominated for the appointment as the Western Cape Commissioner for Children. We were shown the list of nominees and have gone through each one very carefully.
We have many questions about the list of nominations, the appointment process and the lack of children’s involvement. We believe that there was no consideration given to inform the children of the Western Cape and make sure children can participate.
Our views on the list of nominations
We appreciate that the process to appoint the Western Cape Commissioner has started. We are pleased that there are so many people who have been nominated or who applied and who want to be the Commissioner for Children.
It is a good thing that lots of people are interested to be a Commissioner for Children and promote our rights. It is great to know that there are people who care about children and who fight for our needs and interests.
We are concerned that children were not consulted, informed and given an opportunity to nominate persons they would like to have as Commissioner for Children. We would have liked to identify such persons from our communities and nominate them.
Children have rights and we have rights to take part in decisions that affect us. The Commissioner and the work of the Commissioner will affect us.
We therefore want to know from the Standing Committee on Social Development, ”why the Committee did not make any effort to inform the children of the Western Cape and made arrangements for children to nominate persons to be appointed as the Western Cape Commissioner for Children?”
We understand that the Western Cape Parliament and the Standing Committee on Social Development have a duty to monitor government’s implementation of children’s rights; and have a responsibility to promote the rights of children, which include the rights of children to participate in public-decision making.
We want to know what the Western Cape Parliament and Standing Committee are going to do so that children can enjoy their right to participate in the appointment process of the Western Cape Commissioner for Children.
Limiting our right to participate and make objections.
Unfortunately, we do not know the people on the list. We do not know who they are and what they have done or are doing for children. Some of us recognised some nominees because of the work they have done, or because they have been in the media.
Most of the names on the list of nominees are not known to us. Most names are not of people we know that work in our communities and fight for our rights and protection. We have no idea who most of the people are.
The names are not of people we know, who help and speak up for children who are;
• poor, hungry and vulnerable
• abused, assaulted, raped and exploited
• bullied and hit by teachers and out of school
• homeless, migrants and refugees
• using alcohol and drugs
• exposed to violence and crime every day in our communities.
The list also has lawyers and advocates. We know that lawyers and advocates are usually not approachable, and children normally find them unfriendly and cold. They work in courts and many of our courts are not very friendly to children. Children feel intimidated by them.
We don’t know their profession and background. The list does not provide profiles and backgrounds on each of the candidates. We do not know what the people, who are on the list, have done for children.
Therefore, the reasons we cannot make objections to any person on the list of nominees, is because we do not know;
• most of the people on the list
• the profiles of the nominees
• the backgrounds and expertise of nominees
• the character and qualities of nominees
• if nominees are fit and able to work with children
• if nominees know and understand the rights of all children
• the strengths and weaknesses of nominees.
• if nominees have committed a crime or treated children badly
• if any of the nominees are suitable to be the Commissioner
Because we have not been given background information on the nominees, and unable to take part and make objections, we believe that;
• our right to information on the nominees has not been met.
• our right to participate and make objections on nominees has been limited.
We believe that a nominee would not be suitable to be a Commissioner for Children if he or she;
• Haven’t interacted with children in recent years
• Have a criminal record
• Only want the status of the position and have no commitment for children
• Have a temper and lack character to work with children
• Have little or no experience in working with children
• Do not have a passion and commitment for children
. Has little or no employment background with children and children’s issues
• Do not have the qualities and values to work with children
• Has conservative attitudes, religious and traditional views
• Do not have communication skills to engage effectively with children
• Do not have knowledge about the needs of all children in the Western Cape
• Do not have the status and respect of children and communities
• Do not understand the responsibilities of the Commissioner for Children
• Not able to ensure the independence of the Commissioner and office
• Unable to express and show accountability to children
• Do not have leadership qualities and able to work with and engage children
Respecting our right to participate;
The Western Cape Parliament and the Standing Committee on Social Development must respect the rights of children. This include our rights
• to be informed and consulted
• to have access to decision-making that affects our lives
• to express our views and opinion
• to have our views and opinions considered and included
We, therefore make the following objections;
• We object that no effort was made to inform children of the Western Cape of the process to make nominations for the Western cape Commissioner for Children
•This could have been done in cooperation with schools, institutions, NGOs and community organisations; social media, and media targeting children and young people
• We object that no profiles of nominees were provided which limited our rights to take part and make objections
•The profiles could have help us get to know the nominees and check if they suitable and take part
• We object that our rights to participation are not respected
The Provincial Parliament and the Standing Committee on Social Development must respect, promote, implement and monitor our rights; including our participation rights. If parliament is not doing to do it; how can parliament expect government or anyone else must do it
We object to be left out. We trust that the necessary considerations will be given to ensure effective participation of children in the appointment process ahead.
*Names of children not published to project their identity
Molo Songolo is a child rights advocacy organization, they advance the rights, care, protection and participation of children through awareness, education, training, advocacy, and the provision of support services. Molo Songolo worked closely with members of the CPC to include children in the advocacy process for the appointment of the Commissioner for Children.
Children participated through the following organisations linked to CPC through Connect Network and the Western cape Street Children’s Forums