Though there is no major war in South Africa, like those seen in the Middle East, violence kills people daily and it is effectively a country at war.
This was the message Mzwakhe Nqavashe, chairperson of Cape Town’s portfolio committee on security and social services, shared on Wednesday, when hundreds gathered in the city to celebrate the second commemoration of the proclamation of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW).
The DPCW, which was drafted and finalised in 2016, is a legal instrument which seeks to address religious conflicts, cultural bias and ethnic hatred through international law. The DPCW, which was drafted by the HWPL Peace Committee, is a result of a volunteer movement which uses a bottom-up approach, engaging communities, to peacefully resolve conflicts through dialogue.
The commemoratory event, hosted by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international non-profit organisation that works closely with the United Nations, was held in various cities across the world, with participants including religious, youth, governmental and community leaders.
In Cape Town about 600 gathered at the V&A Waterfront to advocate for an end to conflict in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
“In South Africa, we are confronted by violence amongst South Africans themselves … We have joined and we are working together with IPYG (affiliated to HWPL) in terms of achieving this war against violence in the South African context,” Nqavashe said.
Wednesday’s event, which kicked off with a vibrant welcoming ceremony, included a panel discussion to provide community leaders with an opportunity to share the ways in which certain articles of the DPCW was being implemented in South Africa. Further discussions were held to establish plans for wider implementation of the peace law.
Andre Smit, law adviser to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said the event provided a platform for the kind of discussions South Africans needed to have more frequently.
People speak a lot about war, plan for war, plan to protect their own interest but we’re not putting in enough effort in planning for peace and making sure that our children live in a world where there will be peace,” he said.
Nothing happens without us working together. Civil society, government, everybody being on the same page [reveals] where help is needed.
The delegation then joined HWPL’s main event in Seoul, South Korea, through live stream, before marching from the Table Bay Hotel to Nobel Square, which pays tribute to South Africa’s four Nobel Peace Prize laureates — Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.
Shamila Abrahams, who plays an active role in women’s advocacy, said the event helped unite South Africans.
The DPCW stands for principals that transcend colour and religion. It’s all about what really matters to humanity — basic human values,” she said.
She added that sometimes it appears as though only the privileged were able to drive change, but that change at a grassroots level could create a ripple effect throughout the country.